As temperatures dip, we start to crave heartier meals with bolder flavors. Instead of turning to calorie loaded, flavorless casseroles, start relying on grain bowls as your autumn staple meal. These bowls are easy to make, meal prep and customize. A proper grain bowl should have multiple components to build flavor, textures and color.
To make a healthy, delicious bowl, choose ingredients from each of the following categories. Start with a base of carbohydrate, vegetables and protein, then layer in small bits of extras (toppings, pickles, sauces, fats) until you have a bowl that is loaded with your favorite things.
Carbohydrates: Choose 1 to 2 cups (depending on your activity level) worth; sweet potato, squash, lentils, quinoa, buckwheat, corn, sprouted brown rice, wild rice and fruit.
Protein: Aim for a 4- to 6-ounce portion of high quality plant or animal protein; salmon, grass-fed steak, pasture raised poultry and eggs, beans, tempeh, tofu, anchovies and legumes.
Vegetables: Choose 1 to 3 cups of vegetables, and don't be shy about combining raw and cooked, sliced and chopped ingredients; beets, kale, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, brussels sprouts, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, leeks and cucumbers.
Sprinkles: These are ingredients you only need 1 to 2 tablespoons of to add a pop of flavor or texture yet also a bit of nutrients; seeds, nuts, furikake, nutritional yeast, micro greens, sprouts, cilantro, parsley, scallions, shredded coconut, avocado, hummus, dried fruit, kimchi, feta, granola, olives and pickles.
Dressings: Dressings get a bad rap, but a bit of liquid helps pull the meal together, make it more palatable and can provide healthy fats. Instead of a premade bottle, try yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, pesto, sriracha, maple syrup, tahini or coconut aminos.
Pro tip: To meal prep grain bowls without getting bored, fill each food container with a different combination of ingredients! Simply mix and match the ingredients you have on hand to create an endless amount of possibilities.
Here are a few favorite combinations:
- Garden Detox: shredded chicken, roast squash, zucchini, shaved carrot, tomato, sunflower seeds, parsley, raisins, avocado, pesto and yogurt
- Umami Bomb: baked sriracha tofu, buckwheat, miso, shiitake mushrooms, furikake, chopped dates, almonds and shredded kale
- Basic Beet: salmon, sprouted brown rice, pickled beets, red cabbage, balsamic, olive oil, spinach, hummus and pecans
- Standard Fare: basmati rice, scallions, shredded carrots, shredded cucumbers, peanuts, tahini, maple syrup, oranges, sesame seeds and a soft-boiled egg
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