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  • Writer's pictureAliza Strock

Buddha Bowl 101

You've seen them called Buddha Bowls, Nourish Bowls, Variety Bowls and more. These colorful bowls have taken the health food scene by storm, plastered all over Pinterest, Instagram, and on the menus of cafes. When I first was seeing these beautiful bowls on the internet, I often asked myself, "but how can I make one at home?" or "how do I make it look as pretty?!" It's taken me years to refine my food styling skills, and I'm still learning everyday, studying youtube tutorials and endlessly scrolling on Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration.

Autumnal Harvest Bowl: avocado, cucumber, honeycrisp apple, chickpeas, sweet potato, romaine lettuce, and a tahini maple dressing!

The trick to making one of these bowls *look* appealing (if that's something that you're interested in - totally fine if not, sometimes the yummiest food is a total mess!) is separating your toppings into sections. See how all of the elements are in their own little clump? To me, that's such a lovely way to look at all of the ingredients individually, yet working together to create one big and beautiful bowl. And let's be real, as soon as I finish photographing, I mix and mush everything together!

Asian Crunch Bowl! broccoli, purple cabbage, red pepper, crispy tamari chickpea hempe (tempeh made from chickpeas and hemp seeds rather than soy), edamame, carrot, all on a bed of quinoa! don't forget the peanut sauce, and garnish of spring onions and crushed peanuts.

One of the most important components of a Buddha bowl is the SAUCE. Without a top notch sauce, the bowl is definitely lacking in something that brings everything together. Sauces are so easy to make (and much cheaper and healthier than store bought!) and you can use really anything you might have on hand. Nut butters and tahini make really delicious sauce bases and add a nice dose of healthy fats to the dish.

Indonesian Gado Gado: chickpea tempeh skewers, avocado, cucumber, purple sweet potato, romaine lettuce and a cashew butter sauce.

Let's talk base for a second. Every good variety bowl has to start somewhere, right? That's with the base - what you layer your toppings on. A solid base is usually some type of grain, some type of green, or both! My favorite bases are quinoa, brown rice, and romaine lettuce, but sometimes I'll chuck some spinach in with a grain to add some extra dark leafy green vitamins and minerals.

Once you've got a base that you're happy with, then comes the toppings. To me, the more colors, the better! More variety in colors not only means prettier and tastier, but more nutrients and health benefits. I usually try to include at least 3 vegetables, plus beans and a protein like tofu or tempeh, and finish with a garnish of fresh herbs and some nuts or seeds. Drizzle some of your sauce on there and you have got yourself a damn fine bowl of happiness!

Mexican inspired bowl: quinoa, romaine lettuce, smokey TVP (textured vegetable protein, it's soy), guacamole, mango, black beans, and lime drizzled with my cashew nacho cheese sauce and sriracha!

The best part about making these bowls? There are endless possibilities for what you could include. Sometimes my bowls don't even link up with a specific theme or cuisine and I just chuck in whatever I have available. They're perfect for those "clean out the fridge" meals at the end of the week, and they really give you the opportunity to be creative and try new flavor combinations.

Let's recap:

1. base (grain, leaves, or both)

2. at least 3 veggies of choice (the more the merrier!)

3. protein (tofu, tempeh, hempe, meat alternative, TVP, etc)

4. legume (black beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc)

5. fresh herbs and/or chopped nuts or seeds

6. sauce/dressing

Mediterranean bowl: romaine lettuce, Greek salad, homemade avocado hummus, homemade beetroot falafels, squeeze of lemon!

I have 100% faith you are now capable of creating an Instagram-worthy nourish bowl. Give it a try! It's so much easier than you might think, and such a great way to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet.

Tag me @shaktifresh so I can see your creations!

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