November 15, 2017

Buddha bowls have gained popularity in recent years thanks to the rise of health and fitness influencers and the drool-worthy photos they post on Instagram.

Following an “anything goes” maxim, Buddha bowls are just that: one-dish bowls with ingredients that vary depending on who you ask and the recipe you choose to follow. They’ve become a quick, grab-and-go option that’s perfect for takeout or dine-in, and chefs can easily adapt their Buddha bowls to match the styles and tastes of their existing menus without missing a beat.

Culinary students who aren’t yet experimenting with these limitless dishes will find Buddha bowls to be a great meal to try out new flavors, pairings and complements.

Wait, why is it called a Buddha bowl?

Buddha, the enlightened sage and founder of Buddhism, was known for his practice of mindful awareness and moderation, which is still seen today in the everyday traditions of Buddhist monks.

Monks often pay close attention to the foods they eat, the utensils they use and the way nourishment symbolizes higher meaning. Typical meals involve a series of bowls, the largest of which is known as the Buddha Bowl because it signifies the head of Buddha and his infinite wisdom.

Today, health-conscious consumers advocate Buddha bowls as a way to customize meals that are nutrient-dense and incorporate ingredients derived directly from the soil. That’s why most Buddha bowls feature some combination of plant-based proteins, vegetables and whole grains.

All that said, let’s explore several great ways to bring Buddha bowls into your life:

1. Sweet potato chickpea

Combine sliced red onions, halved sweet potatoes, broccolini and kale in a bowl and place cooked chickpeas on top.

The real kicker is the savory oils, powders and sauces that bring the dish to life.

Chili powder, garlic powder, melted coconut oil, grape seed oil, tahini sauce, lemon juice and turmeric all together in one bowl pack a powerful punch when drizzled overtop. If you want to go one step further, toss in a tablespoon of maple syrup.

2. Mexican rice and beans rainbow

True to its moniker, this dish features a rainbow of vibrant ingredients. Even better, they can be reused time again to mix into other bowls should you have leftovers.

Infuse your favorite Mexican blends into this bowl by including:

  • Black beans
  • Mexican rice
  • Diced jalapenos, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers
  • Chopped cilantro and Romaine
  • Guacamole
  • Lime and mango
  • Hot sauce/salsa
  • Grilled veggies
  • Dash of taco seasoning, salt and pepper

3. Ultimate winter bliss

For more of a Mediterranean taste, the winter bliss bowl comes with falafel, pistachios, red cabbage and spinach as its base.

Add roasted carrots, cauliflower and hummus for added flavor and nutrition.

Top it all off with a honey, tahini sauce drizzle. That’s it.

4. Chimichurri nourish

A simple veggie-based bowl, this nourishing dish includes sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onion, beans and rice.

Pretty common.

But what makes it stand out is the Chimichurri sauce, which you can quickly make by combining:

  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Lemon juice
  • White wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Oregano
  • Olive oil

Drizzle over your veggies to reach Zen status.

5. Avocado quinoa

Though Buddha bowls are known for their colorful array of ingredients, this dish projects a simple, two-color palette.

As the name suggests, the core components here are avocado and quinoa, but what really brings in the flavor is tahini, olive oil and pepitas.

Additionally, add arugula, brussel sprouts, salt and pepper to round out your bowl.

Don’t hold back with your Buddha bowls. They’re just too good!