How to Make a Macro Bowl

Macro Bowl | Dietitian Debbie DishesHave you ever heard of a macro bowl or buddha bowl? The macro and/or buddha bowl is a simple meal that you can throw together in minutes and eat out of a large bowl while curled up on the couch. At least, that’s what I like to do…  One reason I like macro bowls is that they are a great way to start thinking about how to create a balanced meal, bowl or no bowl. The formula for creating a macro bowl is pretty simple, you have a grain + vegetables + protein + seasoning = healthy meal. Using that formula, you can create a variety of healthy well-balanced meals by switching up the various building blocks for variety. Here are my tips on how to make a macro bowl at home.

6 Steps for Making a Healthy Macro Bowl

Step 1: Choose a Whole Grain and/or Starch: Grains give you a base upon which to build the rest of your bowl. Some good options include: brown rice, quinoa, farro, barley, buckwheat, lentils, or millet. Don’t go overboard on the grain though, try to fill no more than 1/4 of your bowl with whole grains or about 1/2 cup of cooked grains. 

Step 2: Pick Your Vegetables and Roast and/or Saute Them: This is where prepping some of your vegetables over the weekend comes in handy. I like to roast up a big batch of veggies and save them in containers so that I can easily add them to a macro bowl anytime throughout the week. The type of veggies that I include depends on the season, but some of my favorites include: brussels sprouts, zucchini, sweet potatoes, bell pepper, red onion,  carrots, cauliflower, peas, corn, green beans, tomatoes, beets etc. I usually do a combination of about 3-5 different vegetables in one bowl. Try to fill at least 1/2 of your bowl with vegetables and leafy greens or at least 2 servings of vegetables. A serving of vegetables is 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, kale) or 1/2 cup of other vegetables (cooked Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, etc).

Step 3: Add Some Raw or Sauteed Leafy Greens: Leafy greens are packed with good-for-you nutrients. You can either leave them raw or gently sauté them in some olive oil and garlic. Try these greens in your bowl: kale, spinach, swiss chard, cabbage, spring mix lettuce, arugula, etc. Combined with your other vegetables, this should fill at least 1/2 of your bowl with the goal of having at least 2 servings of cooked and/or raw leafy vegetables in your bowl.  A serving of vegetables is 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, kale) or 1/2 cup of other vegetables (cooked Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, etc).

Step 4: Pick a Protein: It is important to make sure you include some protein in your bowl. For vegetarians and vegans I recommend: tofu, tempeh, seitan, or beans. Aim for 3 ounces of protein if you are including a meat in your bowl. If using a vegetarian protein like tofu, tempeh or seitan, adjust your portion so that you are getting 21 grams of protein in your bowl. Protein is listed in grams on the nutrition facts label of the package. For example, the typical serving size listed on the package for tofu is 3 ounces or 1/2 cup, but that only has 9 grams of protein. So, I’ll usually eat 2 servings in my bowl to get closer to that 21 grams of protein which is what you would get from eating 3 ounces of meat. 

Step 5: Drizzle with a Condiment or Sauce: Give your bowl a punch of flavor by adding a flavorful dressing or condiment. One of my favorites is tahini mixed with some water, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Other great options include: hummus, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, or BBQ sauce.  

Step 6: Optional Additions: Give your gut some extra love by including some probiotic rich foods in your bowl like fermented pickles or olives or kimchi. Nuts and seeds are also great for adding a bit more crunch as well as heart-healthy fats. 

Macro Bowl | Dietitian Debbie DishesTo give you an example, here’s a rundown of what I have in the bowl above: 

Grains | Quinoa (Ok, so technically a seed rather than a grain but still useful as a healthy source of carbohydrates)

Vegetables | Roasted beet, sweet potato, red onion, red pepper, summer squash

Greens | Baby kale cooked in olive oil and garlic to wilt

Protein | Soy Beans

Topping/Seasoning | Tahini dressing (1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp tahini, 1/3 cup water, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, salt + pepper)

How to Make a Macro Bowl | Dietitian Debbie

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