It's almost the end of first week of January which means that most new year resolutions to eat healthy and lose weight have already been broken. But if you are still going strong or will like to get back on the wagon, this is the right time to talk about a fun way to eat healthy - grain bowls. Filling and full of flavour, grain bowls offer so many possibilities that you will never be bored. Plus, unlike salads, these can be warm or cold depending on your liking, the mood and the weather.
So what's a grain bowl. It's half a bowl of cooked grains, combined with an equal quantity of some combination of proteins, vegetables and other toppings, plus a dressing that brings the whole thing together. The possibilities, as I said, are endless so let's put together a template for what a good, hearty grain bowl should look like for your lunch.
Start with a healthy grain: Millets, quinoa and wheatberries are my favourites but you could also go for brown rice or couscous. Cooking times vary and if you are going for something hardy like the millet above, you need to plan ahead. I soak millet the night before, then pressure cook it until it's cooked through.
Add a protein: Even as a vegetarian, there are many options to pick from. You could add slices of tofu or paneer (Indian cottage cheese). Lentils work well too. If all else fails, just top off the whole thing with a poached egg.
Now for the veggies: Preferably, add some greens to add color and flavour. Spray or brush a nonstick pan with olive oil, then stir fry spinach or swiss chard or kale until wilted.
Something fresh: So far, everything's cooked or stir fried in your bowl so add some sparkle with tomatoes. Orange and grapefruit segments work well too. And if neither of these complement the flavours you already have in the bowl, add a handful of fresh herbs.
Something crunchy, something fun: Now that you have the key elements of the bowl in place, go crazy with the toppings that add another layer of texture. Nuts, toasted seeds, crispy seaweed, olives, capers, sundried tomatoes - these are elements that pack a punch even though you will add them in tiny quantities.
Finally, dress your bowl: The goal is to eat healthy so the dressing has to match. Depending on what you have in your bowl, even a dash of balsamic vinegar or lime juice may suffice. Or you could go for a vinaigrette. My bowl was looking fairly oriental with millet, kale, tomatoes, nori and toasted sesame seeds so I concocted my dressing by mixing up soy sauce, sriracha and rice wine vinegar.
Happy eating, everyone! May all your goals for 2017 come true.