Grain Bowls

My 2020 Intention? Grain Bowls.

I’m not usually one for New Year resolutions. Some people love them, some people do not love them (there’s no right or wrong in my opinion). However, I do see the New Year as a time for me to press the “refresh” button. No specific expectations or goals, but a time to set intentions and try again.

So I’ve been asking myself, “What can I try to do a little better this year?”

Personally, I’ve been moving more towards an entirely whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet for at least a year. With that in mind, I decided my intention for 2020 is to make more grain bowls. Why?  For many reasons. Grains bowls include all the delicious plant-based foods I want to make a daily staple. Plus, they’re easy, versatile and travel well (great for office lunches or keeping it with me when I’m on the road all day).

How’s my intention going so far? Wonderful! With a little prep each week (think 30 minutes or less), I’ve made delicious and easy grain bowls that are quick enough for me to throw together in the morning before work, and the variety of ingredients keep them interesting and tasty. So, if you’ve been thinking about making more plant-based meals or even if you haven’t, but want to make an easy, healthy upgrade to your food choices, try experimenting with your own grain bowls. Here’s how…

Remember – there are no “rules.” Use what you like/have in your kitchen and feel free to add more of one thing or a little less of/omit something else! Here are some recommendations to get you started:

  1. Start with a grain.

 I like to rotate what I make each week. My favorites include quinoa, farro, barley and sorghum, but there are so many more to try! You can even use the leftover rice from your Asian takeout so nothing goes to waste.

  1. Add veggies.

And plenty of them! Mix and mingle your favorites greens or shave fresh cabbage for crunch. Then consider adding in a blend of raw, cooked and even fermented or pickled veggies (a cabbage slaw is my go-to!).

  1. Pick your protein.

A serving of beans or lentils are mandatory in my bowls. In addition, having purchased an air fryer this holiday season, my new favorite is fried tempeh (although you can bake it in the oven too). You can briefly marinade tempeh or tofu before frying or baking, or just keep it plain. Afterall, there’s plenty of flavor happening otherwise, am I right?!

  1. Add healthy fat.

Not just a serving of nuts and/or seeds. Try sliced avocado or a spoonful of hummus for a bit of creaminess.

  1. Drizzle your dressing.

Once you realize how easy it is to make your own dressing, you’ll never look back! It can be as simple or intricate as you’d like. Some of my favorite combinations include:

  • Olive oil + lemon juice + Dijon mustard
  • Sesame oil + rice vinegar + soy sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar + olive oil + Italian herb blend
  • Tahini + lemon juice + maple syrup (just a little) + garlic + splash H20 to desired consistency

If you too have been thinking about taking a more WFPB approach this year—whether it’s for a health, environmental, animal or personal reason—check back for my blog about how you can make a more plant-based way of eating work for you.


Erin Pellegrin RD, LDN

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