I will let you in a little secret! I love 3 things when it comes to food. Firstly, I love cooking and eating healthy food. I like to spend time in the kitchen preparing my meals, sometime in advance as well. However, there is one thing I don’t really appreciate & that is clutter. You can call me lazy or minimalistic, but I am a huge fan of simple and easy dishes, especially the one-pot dishes like Protein Rich Buddha Bowl. Such recipes have my utmost respect because they are the easiest and often the healthiest of dishes.
Secondly, because I am a health enthusiast and I prefer to keep a close eye on everything I eat. Like the saying goes “you are what you eat” & we all should make conscious choices when it comes to eating right & how everything you ingest has a long-term effect on your health. That is why I like to work on getting the recipes just right.
Thirdly, & probably the most important is working out and the conscious food choices we make when taking care of our body! What you do not know about me is my love of outdoor activities. I loved playing all sort of sports as a kid pretty much into high school. A lot of my childhood buddies would attest to that! Staying active is like second nature to me. And if you are the intense workout kind, you would know how important protein is.
When you are looking for a healthy and protein-rich recipe and want to avoid meat, the one thing that I could recommend to everyone is a “Buddha bowl.” Thankfully we have some amazing vegan ingredients that you can add to protein rich Buddha bowls!
WHERE DID PROTEIN PACKED BUDDHA BOWLS COME FROM?
Though it is believed that the term “Buddha Bowl” comes from the fact that Buddha ate from a bowl but nothing cannot be further from the truth. In reality these “Food” bowls were named so as to tap into the health market specifically. You must have noticed how the health industry has evolved into multi-million dollar industry during the last couple of decades. The businesses in health industry leveraged Yoga’s spiritual ties to add gravitas to their products and services. Buddha Bowls are nothing but excellent examples of it.
In fact, the term buddha bowl was first used in the early 2010’s by famous American chefs like Martha Stewart & later on by Epicurious. Till then the term was completely unheard of! Historically, it is said that Buddha would carry a big empty bowl with him all the time. People would give food to him in that bowl, and he would eat whatever was given to him. In short, “a variety of food.”
So came the concept to eat a small portion of variety from different or all food groups, i.e., grain, vegetable, protein, toppings, and a dressing. Bottom line – Protein Rich Buddha Bowls are nothing but natural foods, tipping heavily towards a fresh & balanced diet, that is devoid of any processed food.
What actually needs acknowledgement is the Buddhist rituals practiced around food. These rituals are significant towards understanding the holistic approach towards mind, body & soul. The exquisite chant below, known as the “Theravada Chant” from Buddhism’s oldest school, is the equivalent of “saying grace.”
“Wisely reflecting, I use this food not for fun, not for pleasure, not for fattening, not for beautification. But only for the maintenance and nourishment of this body, for keeping it healthy, for helping with the Spiritual Life;
Thinking thus, I will allay hunger without overeating, so that I may continue to live blamelessly and at ease.”
The above chant so beautifully elaborates that “Food has its place, but it should not take over our lives.”
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A perfect Protein rich Buddha bowl is a combination of 5 essential things. So, you have a lot of options. Here are a few ideas for you to try:
- Grains: Whole wheat grains, quinoa, white or brown rice, etc., work well.
- Vegetable: Most widely loved vegetables include kale, spinach, red cabbage, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, yam, etc.
- Protein: You can choose from plant-based proteins like tofu, chickpeas, red beans, etc. However, if you are not vegan, you can add fish or chicken or any other protein of your choice.
- Topping: Toppings include fresh herbs, seeds, and nuts.
- Dressing: From a simple olive oil, sesame oil, or lemon juice to delicious and creamy dressings like vegan cheese sauce, carrot sauce, etc., you have plenty of choices to try.
Rice, Chickpeas & Sweet Potatoes Buddha Bowl
- 1 Tbsp. Oil
- 1 Tsp Cumin seeds
- ¼ Cup Onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. Tomato, chopped
- 1 Cup Pre-cooked rice, I used basmati rice
- 1 Tsp Garam masala
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 2 Tbsps. Cilantro, chopped
- 1 Cup Pre-cooked chickpeas
- 1 Tsp Salt
- ¼ Tsp Ginger powder
- 1 Tsp Paprika powder, optional
- 1 Tbsp. Oil
- 1 Sweet potato
- ¼ Cup Onion, sliced
- ½ Cup Green cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
- ½ Cup Red cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
- Olive oil, to drizzle
- Salt, to season
- Ground black pepper powder, to season
FOR THE CARROT GINGER DRESSING
- ⅓ Cup Extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ Cup Rice vinegar
- 2 Large Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about ⅔ cup)
- 2 Tbsp. Fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp. Lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. + 1 Tsp Honey
- 1 ½ Tsp Sesame oil
- ¼ Tsp Salt, some more to taste
- Heat oil on medium in a pan and add cumin seeds.
- Once cumin seeds start spluttering, add onion.
- Sauté onions till translucent, then add tomatoes.
- Sauté tomatoes until mushy and add rice to it.
- Mix thoroughly, cook for another couple of minutes.
- Add garam masala, salt, and cilantro.
- Mix everything together.
- Heat oil on medium in a pan and add chickpeas.
- Stir fry the chickpeas for 5 minutes and remove from heat.
FOR SWEET POTATOES
- Preheat oven at 400°F
- Peel and cut the sweet potato into ¼” slices.
- Peel & slice onions into ¼” slices.
- Place onions and sweet potatoes on a baking tray.
- Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt & pepper powder onto onions and sweet potatoes.
- Place the baking tray on the middle rack in the oven.
- After 10-12 minutes, remove the caramelized onions from the baking tray and put sweet potatoes back into the oven.
- Remove once the sweet potatoes look honeyed brown. Check for doneness with a knife.
FOR THE CARROT GINGER DRESSING
- Add all the salad dressing ingredients in a blender. Bend until completely smooth.
- Taste, and add additional salt if needed.
- If it’s too sour (it should have some zing to it), add in a little honey.
- Serve over greens and any other ingredients you’d like.
- Place rice and chickpeas in a bowl.
- Add sliced red and green cabbage
- Top with caramelized onions and sweet potatoes.
- Finally pour ginger carrot dressing over cabbage and serve immediately!
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Any leftover ingredients can be stored only if they are not mixed together & if no dressing is poured on them. You can refrigerate them separately in air tight containers for a couple of days. Just remember “food prepared fresh….tastes the best” the same day. Or maybe the next, if you want to stretch it a bit! Below are few things to keep in mind:
- Chopped leafy greens and other veggies stale faster than cooked grains.
- Cool down cooked meats before refrigerating.
- Plant based protein will have longer shelf life than vegetables.
- Each ingredient has a different shelf life and discretion should be exercised to not consume stale food.
- The carrot ginger dressing can be refrigerated for 5-6 days in an air tight container. So, it can be prepared ahead of time & stored for later use.
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