With our busy lives, it can be difficult to create a nutritious meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. An all-in-one protein meal solves this problem because it is an easy, tasty, filling, and balanced meal for any time of day. You may have also seen these bowls also referred to as buddha bowls, power bowls, grain bowls, or nourishing bowls, but the main ingredients for each are lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables.
What Is Protein?
Protein is considered “the building block of life” and is found throughout the body, in our nails, skin, hair, muscle, bone, and internal organs. Protein helps:
- deliver oxygen to cells
- make antibodies that fight off infections and illnesses
- reduce hunger and food cravings
- gain muscle mass
- maintain bone mass
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s My Plate Plan, the general recommendation for protein intake for women above the age of 31 is 5 – 6 “ounce-equivalents.” A 1 ounce equivalent of protein is considered 1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds.
5 Steps for Your All-In-One Protein Bowl
Using a simple 5-step formula and a few ingredients, you can easily create a delicious and healthy meal.
Step 1 – Choose Your Whole Grain
Complex carbohydrates will form the base of your protein bowl. To make things easier, batch cook your grains ahead of time and reheat a serving as you need it. Choose from:
Step 2 – Choose Your Protein
Protein is an essential part of our diet, and there are plenty of options to choose from, including:
- Beans (cooked or canned)
Choose lean forms of fresh, frozen, or canned meats (e.g., chicken breast or ground turkey) versus processed meats (e.g., hot dogs, sausages, ham, or lunch meats).
Step 3 – Choose Your Vegetables
Try to incorporate at least 2 types of vegetables to provide color, flavor, and nutrition. Fill half your bowl with cooked and uncooked vegetables. Use a combination of leafy and starchy greens, or try mixing warm and cool temperatures to keep your bowl exciting.
Some fresh vegetables to consider are:
- Mixed Greens
- Butter Lettuce
Cooked vegetables will provide another texture and add more flavor. Try roasting your vegetables for some added caramelization and extra richness. Some roasted vegetables to try are:
- Green Beans
- Brussel Sprouts
- Sweet Potatoes
Since we eat with our eyes first, you can make your bowl prettier by playing around with different knifing techniques. Mince your vegetables or chiffonade those herbs. Use a spiralizer to turn your veggies into noodles.
Step 4 – Choose Your Healthy Fat
Whole, concentrated fat sources are nutritious, and adding one to your all-in-one protein bowl will make it extra tasty! Remember that it’s best to use small portions due to their higher caloric value. Some delicious healthy fats include:
- Olive Oil
A sprinkle of cheese, nuts, or toasted seeds will add even more protein to your bowl!
Step 5 – Choose Toppings/Flavorful Sauces/Condiments
Using seasonings will help with the variety of your all-in-one protein bowl. Spices, herbs, dried fruit, mustard, salsa, cheese, nutritional yeast, and flavored vinegar are just some of the options you can choose from.
How To Make a Chicken Protein Bowl
Let’s put the steps to the test and make a great lunch or dinner!
1. Choose Your Whole Grain
Cook some quinoa according to the package directions and set it aside.
2. Choose Your Protein
Purchase a cooked chicken at your local grocery store. Slice part of the chicken and save the remainder for another day.
3. Choose Your Vegetables
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Combine a sliced sweet potato and a handful of sliced Brussel sprouts in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for approximately 35-40 minutes, tossing halfway, and cook until fork tender.
4. Choose Your Healthy Fat
Make a simple balsamic vinaigrette dressing using olive oil as your healthy fat. Combine 3-parts extra-virgin olive oil and 1-part balsamic vinegar in a small jar or container with a lid. Add salt and pepper, replace the lid, and shake vigorously.
Slice one-half of the avocado for garnish.
5. Choose Toppings/Flavorful Sauces/Condiments
On a separate baking sheet, add 1/3 cup of sliced or chopped almonds. Toast almonds in a 350°F oven until golden and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
To make your all-in-one protein bowl, add a serving of quinoa and some of the roasted veggies to the bowl. Top with your sliced, cooked chicken and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Drizzle some salad dressing and top with sliced avocado.
So that’s it! Simple, right? With these 5 steps in your repertoire, you can create any number of all-in-one protein bowls for any meal of the day. Most are savory but for a sweeter bowl, just add more fruit. If you are vegetarian or vegan, use plant proteins like legumes (e.g., beans, lentils) and soy products (e.g., tofu, tempeh). Protein bowls are even a great way to use up your leftovers!
If you are looking for some more healthy protein recipes, be sure to read this article. You may also enjoy the bowl recipes found in these cookbooks: