by Nancy Sweet, director, LLCC culinary programs and operations
Low carb, keto, whole 30, paleo … it’s hard to keep up with the next diet trend and what they are either bulking up on or eliminating all together. Is it just hype? Or do they actually work? I’m guessing it all just depends – on your body and on your choices.
But the thing that seems the most sensible to me is to simply eat real food. Limiting white sugars and processed foods while increasing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nutrient-dense foods seems the most reasonable way to make a true lifestyle habit versus a fad diet.
Buddha bowls are (technically) vegetarian and use a combination of whole grains, veggies and proteins topped by some sort of sauce. All arranged in a sort of artsy way in a bowl.
At my house, this goes two ways. Either truly follow a recipe with their specific Buddha bowl plan or, more often, ransack my fridge and pantry, and end up with a Buddha bowl with bulger, chickpeas, assorted roasted veggies, a hard-boiled egg (and maybe meat too if there is some that needs used up) and finished with olive oil, red wine vinegar and some minced herbs if I have some at home.
For a novice, here are some general rules of thumb to get started on building your bowl. First, keep it simple. Keep some grains on hand that work well, such as brown rice, farro, couscous, barley, quinoa or wheat. Then, use any veggie in any way – raw, roasted, sautéed, grilled, steamed. Add in beans, peas or egg for extra protein. Then finish with a light herby sauce or vinaigrette.
These bowls are great because they can be served hot or cold, they work well for any season, and can easily be made into a more ethnic dish based on your seasoning. Then, toss it all up and you are good to go!
But below are some Buddha bowls to get you started until you are ready to build your own creations.
Mexican Sweet Potato Black Bean Bowl
Servings: 2 bowls
1 cup brown rice, cooked according to package directions
1 large sweet potato
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 jalapenos, seeds removed and diced
1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
1 tomato, diced (or, if tomatoes out of season, 1 can diced tomatoes drained, Rotel brand even better!)
3 green onions, sliced thin
2 cups baby spinach
1/3 cup Cotija or feta cheese
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 large avocado
½ bunch cilantro
½ cup Greek yogurt
Juice from 1 lime
Pierce sweet potato with fork or knife and microwave on high until just fork tender (not quite baked potato stage). Allow to cool to touch and remove peel and dice sweet potato.
Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil and sweet potato and season with salt and pepper. Cook until sweet potatoes are crispy; remove from pan and set aside. Add red peppers and saute for about 3 minutes until blistered. Remove from pan.
Place black beans in the pan and season with cumin, chili powder, oregano, and salt and pepper. Heat until hot. In the meantime, process in a blender or food processor the avocado, cilantro, Greek yogurt, and lime juice. . Adjust seasoning to taste.
Assembly: Portion spinach into two bowls. Top each bowl with quinoa, black beans, sweet potatoes, red bell pepper slices, jalapenos, tomato, and cotija cheese. Drizzle with sauce.
Greek Chicken Bowl
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp minced garlic (or garlic paste)
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (can also sub 2 chicken breasts)
1 cups chopped seedless cucumbers
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 cup store bough hummus
2 cups chopped Romaine or baby spinach
1 cup farro or bulger, cooked according to package directions
In a small mixing bowl, add whisk together all ingredients except olive oil. Slowly whisk in oil. Place half of the vinaigrette in another container to use as sauce on the finished bowl.
Add remainder of vinaigrette to a large resealable plastic bag with chicken thighs. Close bag and massage marinade into the chicken. Marinate for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
While chicken marinates, prepare your other ingredients. Cook farro or bulger. Chop cucumber, onion, tomatoes, olives, and parsley and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and drizzle a bit of olive oil into the skillet. Pat chicken thighs with a paper towel to remove excess marinade and cook chicken, about 4-5 minutes per side, until golden and cooked through. Remove from pan and roughly chop chicken once cool enough to handle.
Divide lettuce and farro or bulger evenly among 4 bowls. To each bowl, add half of the diced chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olives, hummus, and feta. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and minced parsley. Serve with pita or flatbread if desired.
Roasted Veggie Buddha Bowl with Creamy Balsamic Dressing
1 cup Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 cup butternut squash
1 cup broccoli, trimmed and chopped
1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup red cabbage, rough chopped
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 cups quinoa, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour and drained
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup salad oil
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss brussels, butternut squash, and broccoli with 1 tablespoons olive and salt and pepper. Spread veggies on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. In the meantime, toss chickpeas and cabbage with remaining oil. After 15 minutes add chickpeas and cabbage to baking sheet and roast all veggies together for another 15 minutes.
In the meantime, make dressing. In a blender or food processor, blend together cashews, honey, soy, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil to emulsify. Taste for seasoning.
To make bowl, divide quinoa between two bowls. To each bowl, add half of the roasted veggies and goat cheese. Drizzle with balsamic dressing.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.