It’s not easy cooking for more than one person on a regular basis. One hates tomatoes, but someone else can’t live without them. There’s a spicy food lover, but another can’t take the heat. Add the complication of convincing everyone to eat something good for them and you’ve got a real headache. But don’t break out the ibuprofen (or take out menu) just yet!
One of the easiest ways to please everyone’s palate while still providing a healthy meal is the Build-a-Bowl. Using a variety of nutritious foods and condiments, each person creates a custom bowl with exactly the flavors they want — and it comes together fast. Below is a step-by-step guide for this easy, modern and nutritious meal everyone will be excited to finish. As you’ll see, the key is in the condiments.
Start by cooking a healthful whole grain such as brown rice, quinoa, millet or farro (an ancient Etruscan grain that’s easy to digest). This will be the base for each bowl.
Chop up three to five vegetable toppings in a mix of colors and textures; try sliced cucumber, lightly steamed broccoli, cubed avocado, shredded carrots, tomato, spinach, kale or arugula.
Prepare one or two protein options like beans, organic cubed tofu, sliced hard-cooked eggs or steamed fish.
Offer several condiments for people to choose from. There are a variety of satisfying, healthful choices: Pesto, tamari, tahini, naturally fermented kimchi and sauerkraut, hot sauce, chili flakes, salsa, peanut sauce, olive oil and vinegars will give everyone the chance to get the flavors they crave.
Give everyone a bowl and start building!
Pesto and Tahini Build-a-Bowl
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups cooked white beans, great northern or cannellini
1 bunch kale, loosely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, cut into cubes
1 avocado, sliced
Vegan Pesto (recipe follows)
Lemon Tahini dressing (recipe follows)
Place all ingredients on table with serving spoons. Give everyone a bowl; build away.
The arugula adds a pleasantly peppery note.
Makes about 1 cup
1 cup basil
½ cup parsley
½ cup arugula
½ cup walnuts
2 garlic cloves
⅓ cup high quality olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
Combine basil, parsley, arugula, walnuts, garlic and salt in food processor or blender. Pulse to form coarse mixture. Keeping the blender or food processor on low, slowly pour the olive oil into the mixture until smooth.
Lemon Tahini Dressing
Makes about ¾ cup
⅓ cup tahini, well-stirred
¼ cup purified water
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender; process until smooth.
Image courtesy of Joanna McCracken.