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LJWorld.com weblogs Eat Your Vegetables

Feel Zen in the kitchen with the time-saving Buddha bowl

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If you’re like me, and you probably are, based on the number of personal responses I got to my lifesaver weekend roasted veggies a few weeks back, you probably have zero to negative time to cook on weeknights.

In my house, we’re pretty much married to our weeknight schedule, which is determined by some sort of fancy algorithm based on mommy sports, daddy sports, kiddo sports and family time.

It’s as nice to be married to a schedule about as much as it is annoying to be married to a schedule. On the one-hand, it’s very easy to plan when you know exactly what you’re going to be doing each (and every) week. But it’s also nearly impossible to do anything spontaneous or labor-intensive with one’s time, such as creating picture-perfect meals.

Honestly, I barely have time to shove a fork in my mouth, let alone create something beautiful and new and different all the time. Sure, some days I’ll get on a roll and make a few particularly inspired meals. Or, we’ll have a rain-out and suddenly we’re at home with all the time in the world to make something elaborate. But, mostly, I have 30 minutes tops to make dinner, and probably 10 minutes to slurp it down.

Thus, you may have noticed that generally, the recipes I share in this space are good for more than one meal. Sometimes, they’re good for several nights of dinner, other times you can at least get a dinner and a next day’s lunch off of them. And though these ruts are nice and comforting and time-saving, they aren't exactly inspiring, to be sure.

Thus, sometimes, I do crave a meal that makes a ton, yet is totally customizable — one where you feel like you’re eating something different each night though the parts and pieces are basically all the same.

This is sort of the method behind my aforementioned weekend roasted veggies, but, really, those veggies are just the tip of the iceberg. That’s because they can be (if you want them to be) part of the gloriousness known as “the Buddha bowl.”

The Buddha bowl is a concept long loved in the vegetarian community and its versatility should speak to anyone who is short on time, including those of you who like your meat.

The basics of the Buddha bowl go a little something like this: Add a grain, add a legume, add a veggie, add seasonings/toppings, mix. For example, say you make a big pot of quinoa on Sunday. Depending on what you have in your pantry or fridge, your Buddha bowl experience could go something like this:

Sunday: Quinoa, black beans, corn, salsa and avocado

Monday: Quinoa, chickpeas, baby romaine and balsamic dressing

Tuesday: Quinoa, lentils, sautéed veggies, pasta sauce

Get the picture? It’s easy, it’s rut-preventing, customizable (my hubby’s often looks different than mine) and it totally cleans out your fridge/pantry/freezer of all the random purchases/leftovers/frozen things you’ve forgotten/gotten sick of/need to use up.

So, now that we’re up to speed on the awesomeness that is the Buddha bowl (which is so popular now that they make actual bowls called "the Buddha bowl" — the pretty blue bowl holding my salad from Delicious/Nutritious this month is one of them) here’s a recipe for the basic one at the top of the page.

It combines a bunch of really healthy and cheap foods — you know, the kind that you always plan on eating but, um, cough ... never do — which makes the following bowl perfect for those of us who tend to buy 3 pounds of lentils just because they’re on sale. (Guilty as charged...)

Note: I find it’s easiest to first prepare the sweet potatoes, and get them in the oven. Once they’re cooking, I’ll cook the quinoa and lentils in separate pots at the same time on the stove (they cook about the same amount of time). That way, everything is hot and ready at once and all you need to do is slice up your avocado to finish.

Quinoa-Lentil-Sweet Potato-Avocado Buddha Bowl

2.5 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup dry)

2 cups cooked red or green lentils (1 cup dry)

1 recipe Sweet Potato Medallions

1 avocado, sliced

Other toppings: salsa, balsamic, hot sauce, hummus, sautéed veggies (I topped one of mine with leftover fajita veggies from a restaurant — yum!)

Layer the ingredients as you prefer in a bowl. Enjoy! Serves 4-6. (Double or triple the recipe or pieces of the recipe to get more bang for your bowl.)

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