Move over bacon, bowl-style meals are among the hottest new food trends. Best of all, bowls are a plant-friendly way to get in all the Beans, Greens, Squash, and Yams our body requires for energy and optimal health.
In years gone by, animal protein took center stage on the American dinner plate. The ever-present potatoes were off to one side. Other spots on the plate were filled with a rotating list of veggies and a roll or slice of bread. Salad might have made it onto the plate, or was sometimes exiled to its own smaller dish. With the advent of TV dinners, the lines between food took on even more importance as molded plates kept each food item in its assigned place. But no longer. The newest food trend declares, "Let the mixing begin."
Trending Bowls Signal Hope for Improved Health
The food and culture sections of news outlets around the country have been reporting on the bowl trend, and dozens of cookbooks are available to guide us in making the perfect one-dish meal. And it's just in time. I've previously written on how the growing American habit of skipping the sides in favor of a simplified meal consisting of an entree or a sandwich is leading to a decline in fruit and vegetable consumption and a corresponding decline in health. The bowl trend looks set to rescue dinner and restore produce to its proper place on our plate — ahem, make that bowl.
Breaking Down the Bowl
Served hot or cold, a bowl meal starts with a whole grain or some type of noodle, and then adds a protein and a variety of veggies. Often, each item is placed distinctly atop the grain or noodle foundation, allowing the eater to mix and match flavors and textures as he or she works her way through the meal. Other bowl builders take a bottom up approach and layer the ingredients. Either way, a flavorful sauce is always added to the bowl to unify the disparate components into one satisfyingly delicious experience.
Bowls go by a variety of names:
- power bowls
- protein bowls
- grain bowls
- quinoa bowls
- Buddha bowls
- broth bowls
- rice bowls
- globowls (for globally inspired bowls)
- monk bowls
- sushi bowls
- barbecue bowls
- burrito bowls
And don't think that breakfast has missed out on all the new fun. Fruit, granola, and a thick smoothie are the basic elements of breakfast bowls, which are also known as smoothie bowls, acai bowls, or banzai bowls.
Bowl Tutorial for Beginners
The great thing about this new eating trend is how flexible bowls are. Since bowls naturally feature whole grains, greens, and vegetables, making them free of animal protein and oil is a pretty easy step. Beans, lentils, soy curls, and tofu are all Starch-Smart® choices that will help make a bowl meal hearty. I'd also recommend including some sort of a starchy, root vegetable — like seasoned potato or sweet potato slices — in the mix to make sure the meal will stick to your ribs. For my patients, I further suggest making certain the sauce fits the Starch-Smart® guidelines for their level of health; oils, sodium, and irritating spices often hide in dressings and sauces.
The following quick video demonstrates the basics of building a bowl. To make it Starch-Smarter, I'd take it very easy on or even omit the tahini sauce and the pine nuts at the end. To replace the flavor of the omitted tahini, I might add some roasted sesame seeds or a drizzle of oil-free hummus at the end. But that's the great thing about bowl meals; each person can adjust the ingredients to suit their preferences.
Here's what some news outlets are saying about the bowl trend:
(1) Huffington Post: Six Food Trends to Help You Eat Better in 2016
(3) Chicago Tribune: How to Build a Bowl, the One-Dish Meals All About Flavor, Texture, Color