Bowl Food

Bliss bowls, Buddha bowls, poke bowl or just plain ‘bowl food’. I’ve been thinking about it for some time, way before it was on the menu at Harry’s wedding. I only just found about that out. Over in the United States, bowl food has been big for years; probably why Meghan put in on her wedding menu eh?

While the concept is kind of, well, obnoxious, it really is just food in a bowl, I do love it. I love it because it’s opened up a whole new way of eating, mainly lunching I’d say, that means we can get by without a sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, I love sandwiches but I gave them up as a lunch-time option a long time ago when I read somewhere that our society eats enough for a marathon runner. Seeing as I’m not a marathon runner, I tried to curb my carbs, and eat whole-grains and since then salad has been my go-to lunch. And yes, it gets a bit boring sometimes, which is why bliss bowls were such a welcome change.

I’ve been playing around with the concept for years, and to be honest, it’s a bit of a faff to prepare, so I don’t do it all the time. Rather, if I’ve got some sweet potato languishing on the shelf, and I remember that I’ve got my jar of goodies in the larder (containing quinoa, barley, lentils and probably something else like bulgar wheat), if there’s a fetching avocado in the fridge or perhaps I’m in the mood for roasting some beets, then I usually get the idea to prepare a whole lot of delicious things and keep them in the fridge for the week.

I can’t remember the first bowl I made, but I remember the best bowl I’ve bought. I stopped in Amersham once, looking for lunch and went into the first cafe I saw. It was called The Green Grocer and they had four bowl choices on their menu. I ordered the Gaia Bowl which had roasted beet, feta, puy lentils, avocado, pomegranate, dates and pistachio nuts presented most beautifully in a big bowl. I don’t think I’d seen anything as appetising in a long while and it tasted as good as it looked; a rainbow of colours, textures and flavours and micro-greens.

And it seems it’s not just cool and quirky cafes that are getting on board the bliss bowl bandwagon, I picked up one at M&S last week and it was delightful. Called ‘Nourish Bowls‘, their edamame and black rice bowl was tasty, had all the hallmarks of the perfect bowl and most importantly was a riot of colour and texture. Point is – bowl food is bigger than a wedding trend, better than a salad and perfect to take to work.

I find it best to prepare all the ingredients in separate containers in the fridge, so you’re to assemble each morning before work – or if you work at home like me – assemble when you’re ready for lunch. Some suggestions for ingredients to prepare are: boiled eggs, avocado, hummus, tatsiki dip, dates, raisins, feta, cottage cheese, seseame seeds, roasted veg like sweet potato, beets, eggplant, felafel, courgette or mushrooms, seeds or nuts or both, pickled carrot or onions, marinated dill cucumber wedges.

When it comes to the grains or protein, it’s best to create a meal with things like lentils, chick peas or rice. Ottolenghi is a rich source for interesting ways to cook with pulses and I would even go as far to suggest, in a pinch, using half a packet of Jamie Oliver Super Tomato & Olive Quinoa. These are brilliant straight out of the packet, and the perfect choice to fill out your own bliss bowl. And of course while the tradition is to prepare these as vegetarian treats, you can certainly add meat to yours like shredded chicken or pork, ham slices or prawns. The options are endless. As long you use a bowl, you can’t go wrong.