two buddha bowls

How to Build a Buddha Bowl

By | May 2, 2017 | nutrition

When I was talking to the owners of LFI about post ideas for this month, I suggested this post and they had no idea what I was talking about. After a little more research, I realized that these are darlings of the health food blogger world but aren’t that well known outside of that circle.

But Buddha bowls are life changing. Legit life changing.

Some people call them grain bowls – think burrito bowl but without the limits of the Chipotle toppings. My lunch life changed when I discovered them. It’s a simple idea, start with a base of grains (or cauliflower rice), top with your favorite veggies and proteins and drizzle with a little bit of sauce or sprinkle some cheese for flavor.

Start with a base

On Sundays, I always cook up a batch of grains for the week. Any grain will work for the base of your bowl – quinoa, rice, millet or farro. Cauliflower rice or spiralized veggies (zoodles anyone?) will even work as a base. You can make them plain, or lightly flavor them. Perhaps a cilantro lime rice or dirty rice for the base. But no matter what, make sure you use stock or bouillon when you cook your grains. Each layer of your bowl should add to the flavor.

Add veg

Next, pick 2-3 veggies to add to your bowl. They can be roasted, steamed, grilled or stir-fried. Heck, you can add raw veggies to your bowl. They’re really aren’t any rules – just that you should pick veg that works together. Beets and cucumber might be a little weird…

Pick a protein

To make this a real meal, add some protein to round out the meal. For vegetarians, beans or lentils make a great protein, but you could even add some grilled marinated tofu. Leftover protein from your dinner the night before is the easiest route, but you can always grill, bake or saute chicken. Bake salmon or grill steak. Any meat will make this bowl a meal.

Drizzle some flavor

You could stop with the base, the meat and the veggies because you seasoned each component as you went. However, a sauce will will tie the flavors together. My go-tos are chimmichuri and romesco sauces that I make myself or a sweet chili ginger sauce from the Ginger People. Be creative! Tahini, yogurt, pesto, aioli or salsa are all possibilities.

Bonus toppings

If you really want to go for it, you can add some extra toppings to really make it special. For added crunch, croutons, sunflower seeds, almond flakes and tortilla strips are great. You can’t beat a sprinkle of your favorite cheese or some fresh avocado slices.


This approach to a meal is similar to the “stone soup” approach to making dinner from whatever you have on hand or the “garbage salad” approach that many of my healthy friends make when they are running low on food. But, it is even better than that. You can combine a pre-made base with leftover veggies and proteins or make those special for this meal. If you’re using leftovers, you are helping to keep your meals both thrifty and healthy. You can’t beat that.
What would be in your perfect Buddha bowl?

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