Blog / Nutrition

Grain Bowls: A Trend We Love—Plus 5 Grain Bowl Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner!

What’s your favorite grain bowl recipe? Do you even know what a grain bowl is? If this hot new trend has escaped your attention, we get that. After all, who isn’t super busy these days? But grain bowls aren’t just the latest trend in healthy eating. They’re also infinitely customizable and easy to plan ahead for quick weeknight meals. So come with us as we explore everything you need to know about grain bowls. Plus we’re even going to throw in five grain bowl recipes for the perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

What Are Grain Bowls?

Grain bowls are healthy and delicious one-dish meals you can throw together using nearly any ingredient you have on hand. They’re also super easy to prepare and allow you to stretch your creative side. In fact, there’s only one rule to grain bowls, and that’s grains!

But here, too, you can be as adventurous as you like. After all, we all get in a food rut now and again, and there are so many healthy grains out there that most of us have never tried. And grain bowls give us the perfect opportunity to branch out and try new things. 

So why not use your grain bowl as an excuse to try something new? What better opportunity to delve into more exotic whole grains like farro, freekeh, quinoa, kamut, amaranth, and teff? Or how about whipping up a bulgur, millet, barley, or brown rice bowl?

Then just top with your favorite fruits, fresh vegetables, meats, and sauces and boom! You have a nutrient-packed alternative to processed foods and takeout that’ll perk up any breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

5 Grain Bowl Recipes You’re Sure to Love

Because grain bowls allow you to flex your creative muscles, it’s easy to design a variety of meals that satisfy and delight by simply combining different grains, fruits, veggies, proteins, and sauces. Still, recipes are sometimes just what we need to get those creative juices flowing. So, with that in mind, we offer these five grain bowl recipes that should get you looking at breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a whole new way.

1. Blackberry Coconut Bulgur Breakfast Bowl

This breakfast bowl recipe from Cook Nourish Bliss combines bulgur, blackberries, and coconut to create a quick, satisfying breakfast that will fill you up and provide healthy energy for hours.

Meal prep time: 5 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

For the bulgur

  • 1 cup (medium grind) bulgur
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pure maple syrup to taste

For the blackberries

  • 12 ounces fresh blackberries
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For serving

  • Additional coconut milk and/or maple syrup
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted if desired
  • Chopped nuts

Instructions:

  1. For the bulgur: Add the bulgur, water, and coconut milk to a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stir, cover, and reduce heat. Allow mixture to simmer gently for about 12-15 minutes, until bulgur is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed (it should be similar in texture to thick and creamy steel-cut oatmeal). Remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup.
  2. For the blackberries: Add blackberries, maple syrup, and lemon juice to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Let the mixture simmer for about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until berries have broken down a bit and are syrupy but still have texture. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. To serve: Let the bulgur and blackberry mixture cool for at least 10 minutes before eating. Then add some of the bulgur to a bowl, swirl in a generous amount of the blackberry mixture, add additional milk and/or maple syrup, top with coconut flakes and nuts, and serve immediately.

2. Green Goddess Glow Bowl

Let’s say you’re sitting at work, your stomach’s growling, and you’re wondering what to eat for lunch. Do you head out for yet another greasy fast-food meal that hypes you up for a couple of hours before dropping you like a box of rocks midafternoon, or do you instead reach for the filling, long-lasting energy that comes from a healthy, tasty grain bowl like this vegan and gluten-free quinoa bowl from The Glowing Fridge? We think you know the answer!

Meal prep time: 5 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups water (or vegetable broth for extra flavor)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth (or 1 tablespoon coconut oil)
  • 1/3 of an onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup edamame, frozen
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups kale, de-stemmed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tahini lemon dressing

  • 1/4 tahini
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (approximately 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or agave nectar)
  • Sea salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, add quinoa and water (or broth) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. 
  2. In a separate pan, heat vegetable broth (or oil) and sauté onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add frozen edamame and zucchini. Cook for about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add kale and cook about 1 minute or until softened. 
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat. 
  5. Prepare dressing in a small bowl by adding all ingredients and whisking until smooth. Scoop the quinoa into a bowl, top with the vegetable mixture, and drizzle on dressing.

3. Peanutty Quinoa Bowl

This recipe from Oh My Veggies makes use of both tofu and peanut sauce to create a simple yet savory vegetarian grain bowl that’s perfect for a weeknight dinner or anytime meal.

Meal prep time: 5 minutes

Total time20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small broccoli crown, cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices baked tofu
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts

Instructions:

  1. Cook quinoa in water or vegetable broth according to package directions. 
  2. While quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add red pepper, and cook for about 3 minutes or until softened. Transfer to a large bowl. 
  3. Add broccoli and 2 tablespoons of water to skillet. Cover and steam for about 2 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Transfer the broccoli to the pepper bowl. 
  4. Whisk peanut butter, lime juice, water, tamari, sugar, and ginger in a small bowl. When quinoa is done, transfer it to the veggie bowl and toss everything with peanut sauce. 
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  6. Divide quinoa into two bowls and top each with two slices of tofu and a tablespoon of chopped peanuts.

4. Wheat Berry Bowl with Salmon and Miso Sauce

This recipe from Food Network combines the chewy, nutty flavor of wheat berries with the savory satisfaction of miso sauce and the healthy fats of salmon to create an Asian-inspired grain bowl that’s sure to please.

Meal prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups wheat berries
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 8-ounce salmon fillet (preferably with skin), cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/4 small head)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 sheets toasted seaweed snack, cut into thin strips
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Instructions:

  1. Bring medium saucepan of water to a boil, add wheat berries, and cook until plump and tender, 35-40 minutes. Drain wheat berries and transfer to a medium bowl. Toss with sesame oil and salt. 
  2. While wheat berries cook, whisk together mayonnaise, miso, mirin, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. 
  3. Swirl sesame seeds in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until toasted and golden, about 3 minutes, and pour into a small bowl. 
  4. Season salmon with salt. Add oil to the skillet, set over medium-high heat, and heat oil until it starts to smoke. Place salmon, skin side down, in the skillet. Once two thirds of the salmon becomes pale orange, turn and continue to cook for about 1 minute more for thicker pieces, 30 seconds more for thinner pieces. As each piece finishes, remove from skillet and transfer to a plate. 
  5. Evenly divide wheat berries among 4 bowls and add piles or rows of cabbage, avocado, and scallions. Top each with a piece of salmon, miso sauce, sesame seeds, and seaweed and serve with a lemon wedge.

5. Spicy Quinoa Taco Bowl

If you’ve gathered by now that there’s no cuisine that doesn’t lend itself to grain bowls, you’d be right. With that in mind, we now round out our tour of ethnic cuisine with this spicy taco recipe from One Ingredient Chef.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups white quinoa
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 2 cups corn
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 3 green onions
  • 4 small corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, combine two parts water with one part quinoa. After mixture begins to boil, turn heat down and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all water, approximately 20 minutes. 
  2. Place three to four corn tortillas, cut into pieces, in an oven preheated to 375 °F for 8-10 minutes or until slightly crispy.
  3. While quinoa and tortilla strips are cooking, dice avocado, slice green onions, halve cherry tomatoes, chop cilantro, prepare corn, and drain beans.
  4. Combine spices and juice of two limes in a small bowl and mix well.
  5. After all water has been absorbed by the quinoa, remove from heat, place in a large bowl, drizzle with lime mixture, add other ingredients, and combine well.

    You may have noticed that several of these recipes use quinoa as a base. While this ancient grain is super healthy, don’t think you have to limit yourself. Remember, grain bowls are all about bringing your healthy and creative sides together. So don’t be afraid to mix it up. And who knows? You may find the food world’s next great masterpiece lurking in your very own kitchen!

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