Buddha Bowls, also referred to as grain bowls or whatever-I-have-left-in-the-fridge bowls, are so easy and versatile. They are one of the best ways to pack a ton of nutrients into one meal and get a perfect balance of colors (the more variety of colors, the better). Buddha bowls are also a simple way to get a good balance of macro-nutrients like protein, complex carbs, and fat. Last but not least, ANYONE can eat and enjoy these – they’re typically gluten-free but you can also make them dairy-free, grain free, vegan, nut free, paleo, and the list goes on. The recipe I’ll show below is vegan and gluten-free and could also be considered paleo-friendly, depending on your intake of nuts and seeds.
As I mentioned before, Buddha Bowls are super versatile. Right now, I’m taking a healthy meal planning workshop at the Institute for Integrative Health with Rachel Druckenmiller of Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen and one of my biggest takeaways from part 1 of this workshop series is that making meals don’t have to be super complicated. She suggested that we all consider the meal to be more of a template than a specific recipe. This allows for variation and easy substitutions and it takes the stress out of cooking! I think I already knew this but having it explained by a real professional in a super simple way was a game-changer for me. So I put that mindset to the test with this Rainbow Buddha Bowl.
I promise I’ll get to the recipe soon but first, I want to talk about the amazing benefits of a few of the stars in this dish just to give you an idea of the types of foods you may want to consider when making a bowl for yourself!
Kale and Broccoli: I can’t give enough praise to dark leafy greens and other cruciferous veggies. They are true superfoods packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals like sulforaphane, which has been shown in studies to stimulate enzymes in the body that can detoxify carcinogens before they can damage cells. Some people don’t digest raw greens like kale all that well so lightly sauteing (until they turn a bright green) with some coconut or olive oil and salt and pepper can help.
Beets: These juicy root vegetables are rich in Vitamin C, fiber, folate, and essential minerals like potassium and manganese. They are also a great source of betaine, which helps protect cells and internal organs and has amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Beets are also rich in nitrates which are converted into nitric oxide in the body and support healthy blood pressure and stamina. One of my FAVORITE characteristics of beets is their ability to support the body’s Phase 2 detoxification process, helping to purify the blood and none other than the LIVER!
Sweet potatoes: These bad boys are high in Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene (what makes them orange, just like carrots), Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, fiber, and essential minerals like manganese, copper, and potassium. They are great for supporting healthy digestion. While all potatoes are starchy vegetables, you should NOT fear them, they can be eaten as part of a balanced diet, it’s all about how they’re cooked. They’re packed with a ton of beneficial nutrients! Just consume in smaller proportions than, say leafy greens and cruciferous veggies.
Tempeh: If you eat vegan or vegetarian and haven’t heard of tempeh, then you are missing out! Even if you eat meat, I highly suggest giving tempeh a try. Like tofu, tempeh is (typically) made from soybeans. However, tofu barely resembles tempeh when it comes to nutritional content, mainly because tofu is processed and tempeh is actually made from whole soybeans. It’s also fermented, making it a much more absorbable and digestible food compared to tofu. Tempeh is chock full of manganese, copper, and fiber, as well as protein, phosphorus, Vitamin B2, and magnesium. We picked up the MOST DELICIOUS tempeh from Smiling Hara Tempeh. We chose the raspberry habanero bbq flavor which is actually made with peanuts and hemp seeds, not soybeans, and it really brought the whole dish together. Even with the added flavor, the ingredients still remain super simple. *salivating just thinking about it* We found these gems at MOM’s Organic Market.
Tahini: Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and has a taste and texture similar to nut and seed butters. Once again, it’s packed with tons of beneficial vitamins and minerals – just make sure you’re getting unhulled tahini, as it’s made from the whole seed and maintains all of its nutritional value. Tahini is rich in essential minerals like phosphorous, lecithin, magnesium, potassium, and iron. It’s also one of the best sources of calcium, as well as Vitamin E, and multiple B-vitamins. Finally, it’s a wonderful source of Methionine, which aids in liver detoxification. (You’ll soon notice that a lot of the foods I use are chosen based on supporting my liver, which now does the job of two organs after losing my gallbladder. If you haven’t already, you can read all about my experience here.)
Now, it’s time for the recipe!
Rainbow Buddha Bowl with Tahini Sauce
▷ Prep Time: 10 minutes
▷ Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
▷ Servings: 2-3 (or 2 with a leftover meal)
▷ Profile: Vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free
*Sorry, Toy Story Alien socks not included 🙂
◈ 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1.5-inch “fries” or 1-inch cubes (whichever you prefer)
◈ 1/3 yellow onion, sliced or loosely chopped
◈ 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (I use this, which saves a bunch of time.)
◈ 5-6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
◈ 1 head of broccoli, chopped
◈ handful of lacinato kale (approx. 6 leaves), de-spined (is that a word? idk I’m going
with it) & chopped
◈ 1/2 red beet, grated (I used a cheese grater but you can also use a food processor)
◈ 1/2 block of tempeh, cut in 3/4-inch cubes
◈ 1 cup uncooked brown rice, makes about 2 cups cooked
◈ Hemp seeds (optional, I love topping with hemp seeds for the added nutrition)
◈ Coconut oil, approx. 2 tablespoons
◈ Tahini sauce, 1/4 cup tahini, 1/2 lemon, ~1/4 cup warm water (depends on preference for thickness), and maple syrup (optional, to taste), recipe below
◈ Preheat oven to 375°F
◈ I like to cut/chop/slice/grate all ingredients ahead of time to make the process a little easier.
◈ In a medium pot, combine 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water, pinch of sea salt and olive oil (optional) and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer about 25-30 minutes until most of the water has evaporated. (I like to buy my brown rice and other grains in bulk so this is just a general rule-of-thumb. Directions may vary.) Set aside, covered, while preparing the other ingredients.
◈ In a mixing bowl, combine the sweet potato chunks, 1 TBS of coconut oil, cinnamon, turmeric, sea salt, and black pepper until all the pieces are evenly coated. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the inside is soft and the outside is slightly crispy. I honestly wing it a little bit, so I just keep a close eye and always test a piece to see how well it’s cooked. If you like your sweet potatoes a little crispier like me, you can also switch the oven to Broil on high for about 5 minutes. Just remember to keep a close eye so they don’t burn!
◈ In a large skillet over medium heat, melt about 1 TBS of coconut oil. Add the sliced onions and saute for about 5 minutes until they are slightly see-through. Add about half of the chopped garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant.
◈ Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for 5-7 minutes. Then add the cubed tempeh and saute for another 5 minutes.
◈ Lastly, add the chopped kale and broccoli. You just want to saute these until they are a bright green, slightly softened but still crisp. This ensures that they maintain most of their nutritional content. You also want to have a variation in texture – mushy broccoli and wilted kale just doesn’t do the trick. You can turn the heat down to very low and cover while making the tahini sauce.
◈ To make the tahini sauce, you’ll need warm water. I use an electric kettle, which is super quick and easy and let the water sit while I’m preparing everything else.
·········✦ In a small mixing bowl, add about 1/4 cup of tahini.
·········✦ Then add the juice of half a lemon. I use a citrus press like this.
·········✦ Stir in warm water about 1-2 TSP at a time until you get a consistency you like.
·········✦ If you prefer the sauce to be slightly sweeter, add a little pure maple syrup.
◈ In a bowl, add about a half cup of cooked brown rice. Top with a hefty amount of the greens & tempeh mixture. Add a smaller portion of the sweet potatoes as well as the grated beets.
◈ Drizzle on the tahini sauce and top with hemp seeds and the other half of the chopped garlic. You don’t have to add the raw garlic, I just love the way it tastes and all of the benefits of eating it raw! Chopped garlic that sits for at least 10 minutes allows the formation of high amounts of the compoud allicin. I’m a bit a garlic freak… Ok maybe more than a bit… Fine, I’m a certified garlic freak. Anyways…
If you do try this recipe, I’d love any and all feedback! Happy (and healthy) cooking ❤