A Buddha Bowl is a one-bowl meal that is vegan or vegetarian. A Buddha bowl is low in calories, healthy, and delicious.  What makes it a Buddha bowl is the balance between 5 components.  Grains, vegetables, protein, dressing, and some sprinkled seeds are what go into making up a Buddha bowl.  

Buddha bowls are healthy because of the balance of food in them.  It is up to you to choose the ingredients and In this post, I’ll be giving you some options for each of the five ingredients.  The idea behind this delicious and healthy meal is to have one-half of the dish made up of vegetables, one-quarter of the dish made of protein, and one-quarter of the dish made from a healthy carbohydrate like barley, quinoa, or brown rice.  

Buddha bowls are also a great way to lose weight.  These meals are balanced, nutritious, and will fill you up without an excess of calories. You just need to watch the protein and carbohydrate portions are the healthiest you can find with the lowest calories.  

If you’re reading this and you are not vegan or vegetarian you could but meat for the protein portion but this site will always recommend that you look for a tasty alternative to meat.  Something like chile roasted chickpeas will satisfy your desire for animal products. 

The size of a Buddha bowl is about the size of a western soup bowl.  The Japanese have a bowl called an Oryoki bowl. It means just enough. The idea of portion control is another reason a Buddha bowl is good for you.     

Finally one other thing about Buddha bowls.  It helps you clean out your fridge.  Got some lettuce you need to use – OK.  Got some celery that will go soft if you don’t use it today?  Add it in.  There is nothing cast in stone when it comes to this dish.  For instance, you could use your favorite store-bought dressing or make your own.  

Let’s discuss the protein portion of this dish.

Protein can come from many different sources and sometimes, as with legumes there is some overlap between carbohydrates and protein. Here I’ll list a few proteins that you can use in your Buddha bowl.

Seitan

Seitan is popular with vegans and vegetarians and is one of the highest sources of plant protein.   

Seitan.  Seitan has as much protein as an equivalent beef portion.   Seitan is made from vital wheat gluten so if you have a gluten allergy this may not be for you.  Seitan can be purchased in your grocery store close usually in proximity to the tofu section. Seitan has about 25 grams of protein for a 4-ounce serving.  

Tofu

Tofu is made by pressing soybean curds into a block.  There are different levels of firmness.  Extra-firm and firm tofu can be cooked on its own and will hold its shape.  I have used medium tofu in the same way as firm tofu.  It wiggles like jello and can be fun for the kids.  You can also blend it like soft tofu into a dressing.  Tofu has about 12 grams of protein for a Buddha bowl serving

Lentils

While we’re looking at lentils as a protein here they would also make up the carbohydrate portion of the Buddha bowl. Lentils have 9 grams of protein per one-half cup.

Tempeh

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that contains B vitamins, probiotics, and a whopping 19 grams of protein for a 100-gram serving.

What’s the vegetable portion of the Buddha Bowl

Vegetables make up about one-half of the Buddha bowl. Science Buddha bowls were around long before processed foods think of steamed vegetables or raw vegetables as desired or appropriate.   The vegetables can be lightly seasoned and if you are watching sodium you can either leave the vegetables unseasoned or seasoned with something other than salt.  

I don’t think I need to coach you on basic vegetables but maybe just provide an idea list so you can start your planning

  • Garlic roasted cauliflower
  • Steamed Broccolli  
  • Steamed edamame
  • String beans and almonds
  • Red or green peppers 
  • Sliced English cucumber and apple slices
  • Salad greens mix 
  • Beets and sweet onions
  • Sliced Tomato and cucumbers
  • Cooked or raw carrots
  • Sliced avocado 
  • Shredded cabbage salad
  • Steamed fiddleheads
  • Sweet peas
  • Baby spinach 
  • Baked zucchini rounds
  • Asparagus
  • Radishes
  • Bean sprouts

Grains for a Buddha Bowl

Grains comprise one-quarter of a buddha bowl.  Grain is comprised of three parts.  The endosperm, the germ, and the bran.  Refined grains remove the germ and the bran and leave only the endosperm.  

Think of brown rice vs white rice.  Brown rice is the whole grain and white rice is just the endosperm.  

Your body needs the germ and the bran.  High dietary fiber is linked to reduced rates of circulatory problems, diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers. 

Some healthy grain choices include

Wild rice

  • 191 calories per 100 gram serving
  • 1.8 grams of fiber
  • 4 grams of protein

Brown rice

  • 370 calories uncooked per 100 grams (uncooked) 
  • 3.52 grams of dietary fibre
  • 7.85 grams protein

Amaranth

  • 371 calories per 100 grams (uncooked)
  • 6.7 grams of fiber
  • 13.6 grams of protein 
  • Many vitamins and minerals 

Quinoa (pronounced “KEENwha”) (uncooked)

  • 368 calories per 100 grams
  • 7 grams of fiber
  • 14.1 grams of protein 

For a dressing on your Buddha bowl, you can either use a healthy commercial dressing or a homemade dressing.

One of the issues I have with commercial dressings is the cost of quality products.  The other concern I have is the amount of sugar, egg, and salt in some dressings.  Also if you are a vegan,  many commercial dressings will have dairy products.  Think of cheeses in Italian, Greek, or blue cheese dressings.

Some dressings contain milk products.  Ranch dressing commonly contains buttermilk.  

Now if you are not a vegan or vegetarian all of these choices may be alright for you.  It’s up to you to read the label and determine if there is any ingredient holding you back from using it.  

Diabetics in particular need to watch out for carbs and glucose.  People with heart disease may need to watch out for saturated fats and salt.  

I’ll be publishing an article on homemade healthy salad dressings in an upcoming blog post and two of my favorites will be green goddess dressing and herb and garlic dressing.  Check back in shortly to see them. 

And the last topping is a healthy superseed sprinkle to top it all off.  

Seeds provide extra flavor, and nourishment and are a great way to top off this dish.  You can use a variety of seeds mixed together or just use them individually.  

Flaxseed

Flaxseed has many nutrients, including protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  Flaxseed is rich in fiber.  There is also some speculation that flaxseed will have some protection for certain cancers, may lower cholesterol levels, may assist in reducing blood pressure, may assist in stabilizing blood glucose levels, and maybe even be helpful in managing your weight.  

Overall, flaxseed is a winner with great taste.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds contain vitamin E and other vitamins and minerals.  They have high levels of fiber.  To get this benefit only buy whole hemp seeds and not those seeds that are processed to remove the hull.

Gamma-linolenic acid(GLA) is found in hemp seeds.  GLA reduces the effect of prolactin the hormone associated with PMS.  Hemp seeds and GLA may have a role in reducing symptoms of menopause as well.

Hemp seeds have lots of protein.  2-3 tablespoons of hemp seed will provide a punch of 11 grams of protein.  Topping your Buddha bowl with hemp seeds is a great way to give you a protein boost.  Hemp seeds all of the essential amino acids so they are considered a complete protein.

If you have eczema hemp seeds may benefit you as well.  Hemp seeds have a 3-1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 which is considered optimal. Besides eczema hemp seed and hemp oil may give some relief to dry itchy skin.   

GLA reduces inflammation.  Which could reduce your likelihood of heart disease.  There have been studies where hemp oil improved blood pressure and reduced the risk of clotting to help with recovery after a heart attack.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are powerful antioxidants that may help you to reduce the risk of diseases associated with free radicals.  This includes cognitive decline, certain cancers, and heart disease.  

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are high in fiber, very low in saturated fat, and high in monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  There are 5.5 grams of protein per ounce.  Like many seeds, studies have proven that sunflower seeds are heart-healthy and can lower blood pressure.

When buying sunflower seeds look for ones that are not salted.

Sesame seeds

Like many other seeds, sesame seeds have the health benefits of being heart-healthy, lowering blood pressure, and helps protect against diabetes and arthritis.  

Poppy seeds

Phosphorous, calcium, and Iron are found in poppy seeds.  Phosphorous and calcium are nutrients that are needed to help build healthy bones.  Protein and iron form red blood cells. 

In Closing…

So there’s everything you need to know about Buddha bowls to get started enjoying this delicious and healthy meal.  While traditionally vegan or vegetarian, Buddha bowls can be anything you want them to be.  

Just remember the portion size and that it is one-half vegetables, one-quarter protein, and one-quarter whole grains.  The fourth element is a healthy dressing and finally top with some healthy and tasty seeds. 

Enjoy