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Bowl with grains topped with a filet of salmon

Bowls Are the New Wraps: How to Build a Healthy Meal in a Bowl

Eating healthy can be a challenge, especially if you don’t plan ahead. But it doesn’t have to be difficult! And what could be easier than putting together a healthy bowl? Bonus: Bowls make the perfect lunch throughout the week. In fact, building a bowl is a simple three-step process.

STEP 1: Select Your Grain

The first step when creating your bowl is to choose a healthy grain or legume as your base. This will provide healthy carbohydrates to keep you fueled throughout the day.

Some healthy options include:

  • Brown Rice
  • Bulgar
  • Quinoa
  • Whole Rye
  • Barley
  • Black Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Chickpeas

These grains and legumes are jampacked with nutrients, including manganese, zinc, iron, selenium and phosphorous — all crucial for your health. Plus, whole grains and beans are full of dietary fiber, which helps you feel fuller, longer.

STEP 2: Pick Your Vegetables

The next step is to add veggies. The more vegetables you add, the more nutrients you’ll take in. We recommend roasting or sautéing the vegetables — just be sure to keep the oil to a minimum. Another benefit of veggies: They add bulk with minimal calories.

Some of our favorite choices include:

  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Mushrooms

When you prepare your veggies, use herbs and spices to boost the flavor. Options include basil, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, sage, parsley, rosemary, cumin, chili pepper, cayenne pepper and more.

Of course, you can’t use all of these at once — that would be a disaster! But a limited and careful use of these choices will add a lot of flavor to your meal. Not only that, but each of these herbs and spices has its own health benefits, and using the right amount will allow you to cut back on salt without sacrificing flavor.

STEP 3: Choose a Protein

The final step in building your bowl is adding your protein. We recommend you either grill it or bake it.

We suggest one of these lean options:

  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Pork
  • Tofu

Putting it All Together

In these three easy steps, you can build yourself a healthy lunch. Now it’s time to get creative! Once you’ve tried these recommendations, think about using other ingredients. You can add different types of beans, nuts, potatoes or even avocado. Smart sauces also offer easy ways to customize your lunch — think: Greek yogurt tzatziki, salsa or a homemade barbecue. As long as you stick to healthy grains, vegetables and protein, you’ll have a fast foundation for any meal.

As a bonus tip, try preparing all of your bowls for the week on Sunday. If you cook and package your bowls ahead of time, you can easily grab one each morning before heading to work.

Finally, don’t lose hope if you forget your bowl at home. Head to a local restaurant that can make you one! Some of our favorites in Columbus? Brassica, Acre, Bibibop and Northstar. Just use caution when you go to restaurants — you don’t want the health benefit of your bowl ruined with calorie-heavy sauces and toppings.

Now that you have your healthy lunches planned, try out some of these healthy stews for dinner!