Bowls are the new plates. All sorts of interesting ones -dish meals are now being eaten in a bowl and being called – protein bowls, Buddha bowls, broth bowls, quinoa bowls and globowls (the globally inspired bowl meals). Similarly breakfast bowls are being dubbed as smoothie bowls, acai bowls and Banzai bowls. Just do a search on Pinterest and Insta and you'll be bowled over.
It’s not that they are new - bowls have been around for a while.
Every culture and cuisine does their own bowl dishes.
Poke (Po-Key), the age old, popular Hawaiian dish is a good example. This super-healthy dish is made up of diced raw tuna marinated in soy and sesame, served on a bed of whole grains and vegetables. Everything you need (plus taste) in one bowl. In fact, if you ask me, khichri, with its balanced proportions of vegetables, dal and rice is possibly the best example of a bowl meal - and most of us have been eating, rather relishing it for ages now. Besides, slow-cooking and one-pot meals like soups that incorporate all the food groups: veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins have been cooked at most homes for a long time now.
In the morning, breakfast bowls can help you check off fruit, yogurt and whole grains (in other words score a balanced breakfast) in one easy, quick- to-put together meal.
They are a great way to blend multiple flavours and fit in a huge variety of ingredients in one single dish (even the ones that you don’t usually eat - like sprouts or chickpeas maybe!)
They can be eaten cold or warm, and customised to the last bit.
They are a great way of eating your veggies - most bowl recipes demand a good quantity of vegetables - so you get a fibre and antioxidants boost.
They are a great way to combine all sorts of vegetables with all kinds of whole grains such as quinoa, farro, amaranth, pearl barley, brown rice or soba noodles and a protein source like grilled meats, eggs, beans, nuts, cheese or tofu.
Want to go grain free? Simple - just opt for zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice and you are set. In a bowl you won't miss the roti and rice so much.
They are so pretty, that they get the gastric juices moving, easing digestion and keeping our gut happy.
They help do away with the need to put together two-three time consuming dishes to make a meal seem complete. So are time saving.
Finally, (and this one gladdens my nutritionist heart immensely), eating from a bowl is a good way to monitor your portion sizes, and thus calories, which can be a big help to those struggling with weight issues.
Plus as they usually deliver just enough (neither less, nor more) you feel great after eating, and stay comfortably full till the next meal, so mid meal munching gets nixed.
Breakfast: Kosambari (lentil chaat)
Soak 30 gm daal (split green moong or yellow moong) for around 1hr. Discard the water and add grated carrot, chopped cucumber and tomato (1/2 each), and 20 gm shredded coconut to it. Add salt to taste, lemon juice (1 lemon), and some chopped coriander leaves. Mix well. Heat 1 tsp oil and add a pinch of mustard seeds. When they start popping, add few curry leaves, a pinch of asafoetida and 1 red chili broken into pieces. Mix well and dig in. Also add a half finely chopped apple on top to get some fruit power.
Lunch: Beet Greens Pesto bowl
In a food processor, combine 4 cups of beet greens (remove the stems), 4 cracked garlic cloves, ½ cup walnuts, 3 Tbs. grated parmesan, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Process the ingredients while streaming in up to ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil until you have the consistency you want. Store the pesto in an airtight container in the fridge.
Take 2 tbsp of the pesto and mix in assorted steamed veggies, some chopped cashews and half an apple. Add a few slices of avocado for taste and good fats too.
Dinner: Couscous bowl
Boil water and cook 150 gm couscous. Drain and add 30 gm feta cheese, 1/4th cup pomegranate seeds, mint leaves, salt and pepper. Sprinkle either of the below mentioned dressings. Add any other veggies if you wish to.
mix 4 tsp orange juice, 1 tsp vinegar and 1 tsp olive oil
mix 2 tsp soya sauce, 1 tsp lemon juice and 2 tsp water.
From my book Don’t Diet! 50 habits of Thin People
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)