Building a Grain Bowl
May 09, 2018
There's a lot to be said for the ease and convenience of keeping batch cooked grains and beans on hand. On busy days, a delicious grain bowl is only minutes away with just a small amount of careful forethought. Composing grain bowls is a creative way to use up vegetables in the fridge, and to also ensure your daily recommended intake of nutritious whole grains and beans too. Here's an easy guide to composing your own grain bowls at home.
Building a Grain Bowl
Batch cook your choice of whole grains or legumes
When planning for the week ahead, it's a good idea to choose one grain and one legume that will play a starring role in your meals for the coming week. This keeps things simple and means just a few pots and a little planning. Any of our premium whole grains will work as a base for your bowl, as will our legumes. Just pre-cook them according to the items chosen, and store in containers in the fridge until ready to use.
To store cooked grains, simply transfer them to a clean container and refrigerate for up to 7 days. Cooked grains such as Wheat Berries and Farro can be frozen for use anytime. To store cooked lentils, we suggest adding a little olive oil and salt to the lentils after they are cooked and allow to cool. Once cool, transfer to a clean container and refrigerate.
To store cooked Navy Beans, Black Beans, and Kabuli Chickpeas, rinse them once they are cooked and transfer to a clean container. Fill the container with clean water just to cover and store in the fridge for up to 7 days. Change the water once or twice throughout the week if you can to keep them fresh. If you won't be using your beans within 5-7 days, we suggest to drain them and freeze them in Ziploc bags and use as needed from frozen. Just thaw what you will need in a little hot water while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
Choose a nut or seed
Toasted nuts and seeds are optional, but always provide an added source of protein as well as crunch and extra flavour. Dry toast them in the oven or on the stovetop until fragrant and just browning. Our favourites are pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chopped toasted almonds. These can also be made in batches and stored in a sealed container for use throughout the week.
Choose a fresh vegetable or green (arugula, lettuce, kale, sprouts)
Choose seasonal greens to act as the base for dressing and as a textural contrast to your cooked grains and beans. This is where you can get really creative with raw salad greens, sprouts, and microgreens, or even plain sauerkraut in a pinch.
Choose a cooked or starchy vegetable
Having cooked vegetables increases the heartiness of your bowl, and also adds vibrancy. Play with colours! We are partial to roasted root vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Choose to either roast the veggies (best for root vegetables), or to steam them (we love lightly steamed kale or broccoli).
Choose a favourite sturdy dressing
This is the fun part. We recommend thicker dressings for grain bowls, as vinaigrettes are often best for fresh leafy salads or colder grain and bean salads. Choose a tahini-based dressing or one with miso or nutritional yeast. A few of our favourites are Everyday Dressing, Maple Mustard Dressing, and Tahini Maple Dressing as a starting point.
Creating the Bowl + Choosing Toppings
To create your grain bowl, start with prepping your individual components. Roasted vegetables, washed fresh greens, salad dressing, and cooked beans and grains can all be prepared ahead and stored in individual containers in the fridge, ready for when inspiration (and hunger) strikes. Compose each ingredient in the bowl, as you would a Salad Niçoise or a snack plate. We suggest a serving of 1/2 cup of grains and beans to start, adding vegetables in 1 cup portions or as desired. Intermingling of ingredients is encouraged here, as are delicious toppings such as ripe avocado, a scoop of hummus, crumbled feta, minced red peppers, olives, toasted nuts or seeds, and fresh cherry tomatoes.
Compose your bowl as desired and top everything with your dressing of choice. As with our selection of cooked grains and beans, we recommend trying a different dressing each week for variety and ease. Play with your bowls to make them unique! Best of all, enjoy the process ~ this is our favourite way to eat well and it's easier than it looks.