If you were to be a fly on the wall in our house, you would spot me making a bowl-lunch almost every day. I love my bowls. They get filled with varying array of fresh, seasonal, colourful foods and frame a beautiful mandala of sustaining foods at the peak of the day. They sound extravagant, but they’re far from it. My bowl lunches are always based around what I can find growing in my garden and stored in my fridge. Simple as. A bed of green leaves, some cooked super-grains, grated colourful roots, some protein, good fats and a splash of delicious dressing and some crunchy toppings. I work round these fundamental things and vary them according to what I have to hand and where my mood takes me! And they take less than 15 minutes to prepare, even less if you have pre-prepared the grains and dressings. Have left over rice from last nights dinner? That could be added. As could some pre-roasted squash or sweet-potatoes. I’m all for batch cooking and will usually have a container of pre-cooked grains and a jar of dressing on any given day in my fridge.
My midday routine often looks like this. I have got Fern to sleep after her mid-morning activity and snack, and am set with an hour or two to fit in some jobs for the day. But first, I must eat! I often prepare my bowl lunch whilst she sleep and share it with her after her nap, as it makes up the most perfect toddler lunch. I start off by choosing my grain, rinsing and adding it to a pot of water before grabbing my colander and heading out into the garden, picking what green leafy veggies we have at the time. Even in winter, the garden graces us with dark green kale which can be massaged with a little salt, lemon and olive oil and served under warm grains. After washing the garden produce, I arrange it in my bowl and look to see what additions I have in my fridge that day. Extra veggies, either raw or steamed over the cooking grains and some protein in the form of pulses or occasionally a perfectly hard-boiled egg are added to my bowl. Whilst the grains finish cooking, I whizz up some dressing if my jar is empty, toast some seeds and wallah! I arrange my bowls in sections somewhat obsessively only to know that I will be mixing and messing it all together seconds later ; )
The idea of colouful, highly-nutritious bowl-meals is hardly a new idea. Check out Sarah, Mckel and Angela for their takes on the Soul bowl. I love how they refer to them as their ‘abundance’, ‘nourish’ and ‘big-vegan’ bowls. Such bounty! When you realise that you can make an abundant meal out of pantry staples and a few seasonal veggies, you have the canvas for a beautiful work of food- art. Soul bowls are literally, food for the soul!
Here I give you my basic guidelines for creating a soul-bowl meal. It’s one of those recipes that can’t really be called a recipe, rather a series of suggestions for filling up your bowl with goodness. Got some awesome cashew-cheese or amazing olives you want to add? Throw them in! One of my favourite toppings to add to my salads are edible flowers, as they grow all over my garden. I have calendula, marigolds, nasturtiums and herb flowers all of which love to add, and if you want to read more about what flowers are edible and good for eating, I suggest you check out my friend Elenore’s wonderful post about them here. I know the idea of this will be new to some of you so I hope it offers some inspiration, and if you already make soul-bowls of your own, please tag them #nectarsoulbowl on instagram so I can drool over yours!
Serves 1 hungry person (or could be used as a side dish for 2-4 people)
1 handful of leafy greens (organic salad leaves, baby kale, mizuna, rocket, lettuce, baby spinach etc)
1 cup super-grains (quinoa/buckwheat/millet/freekeh etc)
1 medium carrot
1 medium beetroot
1 handful other seasonal veggies/ leftover cooked veggies
1 tbsp sauerkraut
1/2 cup cooked pulses (chickpeas/ puy lentils/butter beans etc) OR 2-3 Tbsp hummus OR 1-2 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 handful seeds (pumpkin/sunflower/sesame)
1 handful sprouted mung beans/ micro greens
Edible flowers (optional)
1’4 cup tahini
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup liquid sweetener (rice-syrup/maple syrup/ honey)
1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1″ root ginger, peeled (optional)
Start off by cooking the grains. 1 cup should do 2 servings so you can keep the extra portion for up to 3 days in the fridge if you don’t use it, or even double up this amount and make use it over a few days. Rinse the grains in a sieve then place in a saucepan and add 2 cups of water (or double water to grain). Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer for 10-15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Get to work with your veggies whist the grains are simmering.
Gather your leafy greens. For salad leaves, loosely tear up and arrange in the base of your bowl. If you have tougher greens like kale or chard, cut up finely with a sharp knife and sprinkle a little salt over, before massaging for a minute with your hands. Arrange in your bowl and leave the salt to soften the greens whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Grate the carrot and beetroot, and arrange in your bowl along with the sauerkraut in a way that pleases your eye. Smile, relax and enjoy making your food-of-art. Now check your grains. If they’re ready, fluff them up with a fork and give them a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of olive oil. Mix well, then add a portion to your bowl. Now add your pulses/ hummus/ eggs and make any last touches to the way it looks in your bowl.
In a small frying pan, place a handful of seeds and place over a medium heat. Leave for 1 minute before shaking the pan and toast until they begin to pop. This should only take a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To make the dressing, add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. You are looking for a pouring consistency so add more water if it seems too thick. Transfer to a jar or squeezy-bottle and drizzle over your salad. Keep the rest in the fridge, it will keep for at least a week.
Top it off with avocado slices, sprouted seeds or micro-greens, edible flowers and a sprinkling of toasted seeds. And you’re food-of-art is ready! Enjoy!
I’d love to hear what your favourite salad additions are. Food should fulfill us on every level, not just filling our bellies! What foods are nourishment for your soul? Let me know below or tag your creations with #nectarsoulbowl on Instagram!