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Your Ultimate Guide to Building the Best Buddha Bowl

How to break out of a dinner rut and use more of what you have on hand

Whether you call it a buddha bowl, nourish bowl, or grain bowl, this is the “Miss Versatility” of your kitchen domain. There are five basic components to building your bowl, yet rather than a hard and fast rule, this is more of a general formula. This plug-n-play system is meant for flexibility, where you can swap out various ingredients for some variety and use what you have on hand.

Keep in mind, bowls are not just for nights when your fridge ingredients need some inspiration. Bowl night is the smooth operator of pleasing many palates, which makes her a wonderful option when feeding a variety of diets and desires. You can set out a bowl bar and allow your people to customize their creations by adding what they like.

Building a bowl is the DIY of our weeknight dinnertime decisions!

Speaking of dinnertime… If you’re in a mothering mood, feel free to put some nutritional requirements on your DIY bowl concoctions. Such as: you must choose from at least 3 different categories, or maybe you want to see at least one green pile per bowl, or half your bowl must grow on a vine. You can even make it a competition, if that is what motivates your people. Decide what’s important to your mealtime goals and go with it. We are adults and can make our own rules. 

Whether you’re trying to bring more plant-based meals into the rotation or you love good food AND good flavor, bowls are about balance, healthfulness, and presentation. All the while, making the most of what you already have! 

The Five Components of a Bowl

1. Start with GRAINS or GREENS

Grains or greens are a great base for your bowl. Quinoa, white or brown rice, farro, or wheat berries bring both fiber and texture to your bowl. If you want a fragrant, nutty option, try my famous coconut rice here. Bonus: Grains are ideal for prepping ahead and using throughout the week. Most grains keep for 5-6 days in the fridge. If using rice, it should be refrigerated within the first two hours of cooking and kept no longer than a few days… it’s sensitive to bacterial growth. Rice can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

Greens are a super easy bowl base that provides dense nutrients, color, and fiber. Some of my favorites are crispy kale, arugula, and whatever greens in the back of my fridge are needing new life. Simply toss with olive oil, squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper and you just totally upped your nutrition game.

2. Toss in Some VEGGIES

Here is where the possibilities are endless! You can go for raw, roasted, or leftover veggetables depending on what’s available and what works with your schedule. Roasting a big sheet pan of various veggies for the week is an easy way to bowl success. Toss a variety of peppers, sweet potatoes, squash, onions, mushrooms, asparagus in olive oil and salt and pepper, pop them in a º425 oven and you’ve just maximized their flavors, and prepped a multitude of meals. If you want an oven free option, shave some Brussels sprouts or carrots straight into your bowl. Shred some cabbage, beets, or jicama or dice cucumbers, tomatoes, or radishes for added color and crunch. I’ve also been known to use my kitchen shears to cut sugar snap peas, peppers, or green onions directly into my bowl!


Both vegetarians and meat eaters alike have ample protein options. Keep canned chick peas, cannelloni beans, or black beans stocked in your pantry. Drain and rinse them and toss them in your bowl raw or crisp them up in a skillet with EVOO, salt and pepper, lickity split. Leftover roasted chicken, smoked salmon, shrimp, those remnants of steak, bacon, or brisket are also bowl superstars. Of course there’s always eggs, jammy or fried are a family favorite! And tofu is also a great protein addition. 

4. DRESS it up

Adding sauce or dressing is your magic flavor maker. Feel free to use your favorite store bought dressing or make your own, I’ve got a delicious tahini maple dressing that will change things forever right in this post. Or go simple with a squeeze of lemon and sea salt, or balsamic and EVOO. Don’t forget salt and pepper! 

Get creative! You can use your favorite salsa, hummus, guac, marinara, or even peanut butter.

5. Time to BEDAZZLE

Now it’s time to bedazzle your bowl. This is my favorite part because I love toppings and crunch! Sprinkle on toasted nuts or seeds like sesame, chopped hazelnuts, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds. Finish it off with snipped fresh herbs (hello kitchen shears), pea shoots, micro greens, or pickled onions.

Bonus Tip: The more varied the color in the food that you eat, the more nutrients you’re getting. Plus, bowls are meant to be fun and colorful!

Are you hungry yet??? Try out my Sweet Potato and Kale Buddha Bowl. Coming together in 30 minutes, it’s filling, packed with flavor, crunch, and nutrition. It has a delicious and easy Tahini Maple dressing and some crunchy spiced chickpeas that add a dose of protein. Recipe below.

Sweet Potato and Kale Buddha Bowl with Tahini Maple dressing and Spiced Chickpeas

A filling 30 minute bowl packed with flavor, crunch, nutrition and a delicious tahini maple dressing.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings: 3


Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 cups canned chickpeas rinsed, drained, and dried
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1.5" cubes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Broccolini and Kale

  • 1 bunch broccolini large stems removed
  • 3 cups chopped kale thick stems removed
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil divided
  • ½ tsp pepper divided
  • 1 tsp kosher salt divided
  • zest of 1/2 lemon

Tahini Maple Dressing

  • 5 Tbsp Tahini
  • 2 Tbsp Maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves grated
  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • pinch of kosher salt

Optional Toppings

  • sprigs of fresh mint
  • sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp everything bagel seasoning
  • ½ cup pickled red onions


  • Preheat oven to º425 and line one sheet pan with foil and set out 2 unlined sheets pans.

Prep Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes

  • Rinse and drain chickpeas then dry in a single layer on paper towels. In a small bowl, whisk together, olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Toss chickpeas with the seasoning mixture then spread onto a foil lined sheet pan.
  • Toss sweet potatoes in a medium bowl with 2 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add to an unlined sheet pan in a single layer. Roast chickpeas and sweet potatoes in the oven for 10 minutes.

Prep Broccolini and Kale

  • While potatoes and chickpeas are roasting, use the same bowl from the potatoes to toss the broccolini with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. After 10 minutes, remove potatoes and chickpeas, toss, and add broccolini to the pan with the potatoes. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
  • While potatoes, chickpeas and broccolini are roasting, toss kale in the same bowl used for the previous veggies, with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread kale onto an unlined sheet pan and zest the lemon over the top of the kale. With 5 minutes remaining on the other veggies, add the kale to the oven.
  • Once veggies and chickpeas are done, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Tahini Maple dressing

  • While veggies cool, add all dressing ingredients to a small mason jar and shake until combined. Taste for seasonings. Dressing can be stored in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Build Your Bowl

  • Divide bowl ingredients among 3 large bowls, top with fresh mint, cilantro sprigs, pickled red onion, and pumpkin seeds or chopped nuts. Drizzle with tahini maple dressing and sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning.


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