Layers, textures, flavors, nutrients—there's a lot that goes into the perfect rice bowl, salad bowl, or smoothie bowl. We broke down the prep to make putting together a healthy meal easier than ever

By Marnie Soman Schwartz
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There's a reason why your Instagram feed is full of gorgeous, delicious-looking healthy bowls (smoothie bowls! Buddha bowls! burrito bowls!). And it's not just because food in a bowl is photogenic. "Bowls symbolize love, family, and comfort," says Andrea Uyeda, who owns an LA restaurant, ediBOL, based completely around the concept. Her dishes are based on the family meals of her childhood: bowls filled with Japanese rice and topped with fresh ingredients that brought a variety of flavor and texture, all based on what was in season. Fortunately, their mix-and-match nature makes designing your own bowl totally do-able. (Like these Easy Recipes for Breakfast Bowls.) Just follow Uyeda's top tips.

Pick the Right Bowl

The great thing about eating from a bowl, says Uyeda, is that it lends itself to layering flavors and textures, so when you dig in, you can get a bite that's filled with different flavors, textures, and ingredients. To get that experience, you need a deep bowl, she says.

Flavor Each Element

Unlike bowls at many spots, ediBOL's dishes don't have any sauces. That's because "each component should stand on it's own, and be flavorful and interesting itself." Then, when you combine them, you get a wide variety of tastes, and enjoy each bite. So prepare your bases (try rice, grains, greens, or even cold ramen), produce (think seasonal fruits and vegetables), and proteins (meat, eggs, fish, tofu) with that in mind. (Learn how to poach an egg!)

Keep Things Diverse

The key to an interesting bowl is lots of variety. So remember to include hot and cold elements, a range of textures, and three or more tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, etc.). Use marinades and brines to impart deep flavor to your proteins.

Consider Your Nutrients

The great thing about a bowl is that you can customize it to your needs. Vegan? Use tofu on top instead of beef. Gluten free? Swap out noodles for rice. Training hard at the gym? Add some extra protein. (Read more about The Best Protein-Eating Strategy for Weight Loss.) Think about the balance of carbs, fat, and protein you want in your meal as you decide what elements to include. And by using plenty of produce, you'll get a range of vitamins and minerals.

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