Your Perfect Buddha Bowl

Vegan buddha bowl on blue wooden background. Bowl with carrot, lettuce, tomatoes cherry, radish, avocado and chickpea. Vegetarian, healthy, detox food concept. Top view
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A “Buddha Bowl” is now my favorite meal hands down! I think the term “Buddha” bowl was coined because a Buddhist monk would often arrive at a home with an empty bowl, and would be grateful to have it filled in whatever came his way. I often use this analogy in my Wellness Retreats – the idea of allowing your mind to be like an empty bowl, washed of all your old ideas, beliefs, thoughts, and expectations. Then you can allow your open mind (empty bowl), to be filled with whatever you desire. The skies the limit. All you need do is to plug into the field of infinite possibilities, and be open to receive. You can easily create your perfect Buddha Bowl.

But, back to the food Buddha Bowl that that everyone’s going bananas over – I love that I can pack whatever I want to into a deep-rimmed bowl, and customize it to suit my friends and family. It’s the perfect one-bowl dish for those who eat a whole food plant-based diet. Here are the main reasons why I think the Buddha Bowl is so buzzy right now!

  • You get to create a very balanced meal because you pack as many different plant-based food groups into it. In order to make sure you get all the nutrients you need as a vegan, it’s advantageous to combine grains, greens, beans, etc.
  • You can customize the bowl according to foods that you and your family love/hate. For example, I add fermented veggies to mine, but my daughter hates them, so I’ll add something else.
  • You can create a theme so that you never get tired of it. Over the course of one week, I’ll do a Mexican bowl one night, a Mediterranean bowl the next, a Thai …and so on.
  • It sparks my creativity because once I’ve chosen the theme, I can then begin to search for yummy sauce and dressings recipes.
  • It’s visually stunning! We eat with our eyes, so the key is to load your bowl with as many different colors as you can. Also, remember the different colors contain different anti-oxidants
  • Less washing up! Instead of having different plates and dishes on the table, everything goes into one bowl.
  • Easy to-go lunch or dinner. You can purchase a set of glass bowls with lids, and create your “Buddha” bowl lunches for the week.
  • Great way of using up leftovers.

The Basic Components of a Buddha Bowl

  • A grain – don’t skip this part of it because whole grains (despite what the Paleo/Keto people say) are a very important part of a healthy diet. They actually feed the good bacteria in your gut. So, to eliminate them is a big mistake. If you are cannot eat gluten, you can use grains such as quinoa, millet, or black (Forbidden rice). I would steer away from most brown rice now because of the arsenic issue.
  • Greens – this is where you get to pack your favorite greens into your bowl, either steamed or raw. I generally do raw salad greens at lunch (watercress, Romaine, shredded kale etc), and steamed (Bok Choi, Chard, Collards etc) at dinner. The key is to vary your greens.
  • Cruciferous veggies: This is a great opportunity to get in the one veggie group that has potent anti-cancer compounds. Gently steamed is fine. A tip: Try to chop your cauliflower or broccoli about half and hour prior to steaming or roasting it. This releases the anti-disease compounds.
  • Protein is easy in a Buddha bowl. My favorite choices are: baked tofu (cubed), roasted tempeh (that’s been marinated), and sometimes Seitan. If you are not fully vegan, you could add some shrimp or organic meat of your choice. If you are a meat-eater, it’s way healthier to eat meat in this way because you add a small amount as a condiment or way to flavor your bowl.
  • Always beans! These obviously fall into the protein category, but I give them their own shout-out because they are so darn healthy. Just 1/4 cup a day will give you the extraordinary health benefits, and help to lower your blood sugar.
  • Healthy fats! It’s important to consume healthy fats on a daily basis. They work actually help your body to absorb the powerful compounds in the greens. Healthy fats would be nuts, seeds, and avocados. I rarely create a bowl that doesn’t contain toasted nuts and avocados because of the delicious factor.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you that starches are unhealthy or too calorific. This is a ridiculous notion. Many of the healthiest regions on Earth (the Blue Zones), have subsisted on starches (90%) of their diet for hundreds of years. Starches provide slow-burning energy for your body, and are deeply satisfying. I love to roast my starches such as squash and sweet potato. You could even do a regular mash!
  • Try to get in as many colors as you can so that you really do eat the colors of the rainbow. I try to include red cabbage, beets, cranberries, carrots, radish etc.
  • Mushrooms contain compounds that have now been found to be extremely protective against cancer. I try to load up my bowl with cooked mushrooms such a Shitake and Portobello.
  • The dressing or the sauce makes the bowl! Get creative with oil-free dressings. Again you match your dressing to your theme by adding herbs such as cilantro or basil.

The sky is the limit for your Buddha bowl, and I’d love to hear your ideas.


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Sophie Uliano is New York Times best-selling author and leading expert in the field of natural health and beauty, who takes a down-to-earth approach to beauty focusing on what's truly healthy. Join my masterclass to get started.