The Daily Beet

10 Mar Adventures with Ami: Build a Bowl!

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At our house, we are big fans of the bowl – a one bowl meal with layered ingredients.  There are NO rules. You don’t need a recipe.  You can build one with purpose or with random leftovers.  You can make one to go in a mason jar, have one cold out of the fridge, or one sizzling hot out of a wok. Let’s explore!

My bowls are based around vegetables, with a starch or grain, a bean of some sort and spices, dressing or herbs.  In our house, the purpose of the bowl is a quick, filling meal that is low in calorie density and satisfying.  We accomplish this buy loading in upwards of a pound of vegetables, between the greens and other vegetables.  We sprinkle it with grains and beans, add our toppings and dinner (or lunch) is served!

So what is so easy about a multi-ingredient bowl?  Well, I always have ingredients at the ready.  In 40 minutes time, I can have all of these items cooked and ready to be served: brown rice, quinoa, lentils, baked potatoes and diced veggies. I turn on the oven, get my water on for the rice, put the potatoes in, set the time for the rice, start my quinoa, then my lentils.  Meanwhile, I dice veggies that I use often, like peppers and green onions.  I stock these ingredients in containers in the fridge or freezer.  I keep my potatoes in a big rectangular container with a lid in the refrigerator.  So when it comes time to build a bowl – I have these things to draw from.  Sometimes I dice the potatoes to make croutons out of them for salads or bowls.  Other times I make roasted steak fries.  Sometimes I make a pan of roasted vegetables with herbs and spices. I also make a pot of beans now and then with dried beans.  All of these things work well within the bowl, as well as other recipes.  You can cut down on your recipe prep time by having these things prepared ahead.  You can build a breakfast bowl with these ingredients as well.


hot or cold – your choice!

kale, spinach, beet greens, chard, arugula, mixed salad greens, collards, turnip greens etc.


cubed roasted sweet potatoes, roasted yukon gold potatoes, quiona, brown rice, farro, whole hulled barley, kamut, brown rice pasta, whole wheat noodles – have fun mixing it up!


lentils, beans, tofu or tempeh – your choice! Season the beans/lentils/tofu/tempeh with the spices of your choice!


load up your bowl with steamed or cold veggies – make it colorful, add in some berries or citruses wedges maybe!


Top your bowl with hummus, avocado, salsa, spices, salad dressing, black bean dip, herbs – use your imagination!

There are endless possibilities to the build a bowl scenario.  I would love to see your bowls!


Bowl ideas:

Spinach, Brown Rice, Black Beans, Mango cubes, Green Onions, Diced tomatoes, Sliced Jalapeno, Fresh Cilantro, a squeeze of Lime Juice and a Dash of Cumin

Shredded Kale, roasted sweet potato, mixed greens, french lentils, curry powder

Soba noodles, steamed broccoli, peppers, onions, beet greens, mushrooms, fresh ginger and garlic tossed with clementine wedges


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Ami Mackey for Engine 2
Ami Mackey

Ami Mackey is the Curator of Creative Content at Engine 2. She is also a food coach at Engine 2 and has been plant-strong since 2011. When she isn't attending to all things Engine 2, she is the Program Director at St Louis All City Boxing a nonprofit youth program. She has earned certificates from eCornell in Plant-Based Nutrition & Fitness Nutrition from NASM.

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