A Guide to Grain Bowls

A Guide to Grain Bowls

Jul 01, 2022Margaret Barrow

The summer season is upon us and that means spending more time outside in the great outdoors soaking in the beauty of Mother Nature, but it also means good food. Grilling out in the backyard, handcrafted sandwiches for picnics in the park, and homemade summer smoothie bowls. Yum!

Summertime also means warmer weather. (Cue the higher temperatures and stifling humidity levels). The last thing you want to do on a hot summer’s day is turn on the oven or stovetop and cook dinner in the kitchen, essentially warming up your house as well. Instead, skip the take-out orders and consider keeping cool with a delicious grain bowl. Here is your guide to making a homemade grain bowl. (This one is so good you will want to bookmark it).

Step #1: Get a Grain

The base of a grain bowl is, well, a grain so select your favorite grain as the foundation of your meal. There are a variety of options to choose from, but here are a few of our favorites, some of which may already be stocked in your kitchen pantry (Photo credit: Marilyna).

    • Amaranth
    • Brown rice
    • Buckwheat
    • Bulgur wheat
    • Couscous
    • Farro
    • Freekeh
    • Kamut
    • Millet
    • Orzo
    • Sorghum
    • Spelt
    • Teff
    • Quinoa
  • White rice

  • If you prefer to use a grain alternative, try cauliflower rice, kelp noodles, or shirataki rice, which are all grain replacements made from vegetables. (photo credit: 

    Step #2: Pick a Protein

    After you have selected your grain, pick a protein. We focus on practicing a plant-based lifestyle, so try black beans, chickpeas, tempeh, tofu, or white beans.

    However, if you eat animal meat, feel free to add beef, chicken, or pork (No judgement here). Pescatarian?  Add in some ahi tuna, broiled salmon, grilled cod, seared tuna, or shrimp. We want you to choose healthy. (Photo credit: Nopparat Promtha

    Step #3: Select Some Vegetables

    Now that you have your grains and proteins selected, it is time to throw in some vegetables from the community farmers' market. Vegetables can be added cooked or raw, chef’s choice so it is up to you. (Photo credit: Alex Raths)  Go ahead, you pick! Some great veggie options for grain bowls include:

    • Asparagus
    • Avocado
    • Broccoli
    • Brussel sprouts
    • Cabbage
    • Carrots
    • Cauliflower
    • Corn
    • Cucumber
    • Eggplant
    • Green beans
    • Kale
    • Mushrooms
    • Onions
    • Peas
    • Peppers
    • Potatoes including sweet potatoes
    • Spinach
    • Tomatoes
    • Zucchini

    Step #4: Slather in a Sauce

    Although grains, protein, and vegetables are delicious all on their own, they are even better when they are slathered in a sauce. DIY a recipe and make a homemade version of your favorite store-bought dressing or sauce then add it to your grain bowl. Some easy sauce ideas are chipotle sauce, cucumber sauce, green goddess dressing, soy sauce, or tahini sauce.

    If you are having trouble selecting a sauce, focus on a culinary theme, which may help you narrow down the type of flavor profile you want to enjoy. Try channeling the vibes of the Hawaiian islands, go Japanese style, or maybe try Mediterranean, Mexican, or Moroccan style grain bowls. Ummm, someone pass us a spoon, please. Our mouths are watering! (Photo credit: Roxiller)

    Step #5: Top with Toppings

    Finally, toss in some last-minute toppings for an added burst of flavor and texture. Almonds, chia seeds, feta cheese, pecans, pepitas, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are all great options. You can even include some fresh handpicked and homegrown herbs from your backyard garden or from the herbs growing on your kitchen windowsill. (Photo credit: Barbara Gabay)

    One of the best parts about a grain bowl is they are perfect for repurposing leftovers, so if you have any leftovers remaining from your backyard BBQ over the weekend, elevate them into your homemade grain bowl. Plus, they are perfect for lunch or dinner, so you can enjoy them during your afternoon lunch break at the office or at home for a delicious and easy dinner meal that is quick and simple to make.

    - Stay Healthy and Happy

    Need some new recipe ideas for your very one homemade grain bowl? Check out @MBVeganShare or join our CEO live @itsnolasnacks every first Sunday when she shares some delicious and nutritious vegan recipes. Do not worry, even if you are not vegan, you will still enjoy these dishes.

    Tag us @itsnolasnacks so we can see all of your original and one-of-a-kind grain bowl recipes.

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