Grain Bowl Basics for when You want Panera but Baby, it’s Cold Outside

Grain Bowl Basics for when You want Panera but Baby, it’s Cold Outside

Yo, grain bowls are the future. Have you tried Panera’s new warm grain bowls recently? They’re great for when you want to have a lot of variety in a meal but want something hardy and not salad.

Fire. Absolute Fire. Minus the fact it’s like $10+ a bowl. Not so fire.

Turns out the Internet can really cheapen the cost if you want to have them more often. You probably also have all the ingredients in your fridge or pantry to make a basic bowl. If you have leftovers, that’s even better.

Grain bowls are also called Buddha bowls and have been around for while but they recently gained popularity. Google Buddha bowl or Grain bowl and there’s 500+ recipes and little tutorials on the first page. Crazy.

So, of course my first thought is to add yet another article on grain bowls and how to build them.

Think about the flavors you want to complement when you’re making bowls on your own. This is key. If you want an Asian-inspired bowl, make sure that you use Asian vegetables and common Asian spices, then add your own personal twist to it by adding one of your own favorite flavors. Same for any other bowl you’re dressing up.

Let’s dig in, folks.

Components of a Delicious Bowl

Photo by Lukas on

Whatever your preference, ya gotta have a protein source. You can use any leftovers you have or you can make up a meat to add. Add whatever you desire: chicken, beef, pork, egg, tofu, etc.

Protein helps build muscle and satiates hunger, which will be great for holding you over if you’re eating lunch or going to bed without indulging that midnight snack.

Photo by on

It’s a grain bowl, put grains in it. You can use rice, quinoa, barley, oats (if you’re doing a breakfast buddha bowl) for the base in any of these bowls. Remember to use whole grain if you can like brown rice, but if you can’t, that’s totally fine too.

You can spice it up by cooking the grain in your favorite stock (chicken, beef, bone broth, or veggie stocks) or find another creative way to add some flavor. You can also prepare this ahead of time (it’ll keep well) and then just scoop out and heat what you need when you’re ready.


Raw and Cooked Veggies
Photo by Karina Shilongo on

Cooked veggies will add more flavor to your bowl and start to add much needed substance. You can do A LOT. You can add squash, roasted sweet potatoes, grilled zucchini, green obeans, asparagus, really whatever floats your boat.

As for raw veggies, think about what you would add to a salad: tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, peppers, or even salad greens. These will add a little crunch or texture and raw veggies, especially if they’re local, contain more nutrients than their cooked counterpart.

Photo by Nerfee Mirandilla on

Sauce will help the bowl from drying out and pull all of the flavors in your bowl together. This is important for creating a cohesive bowl that feels complete on the first bite.

You can use your favorite salad dressing, whip up your own, or use another sauce. It’s up to you what you want. Use oils, vinegar, spices, etc to get that perfect sauce.

Garnish, Crunch, or Extras
Photo by Ella Olsson on

Top with a garnish like Microgreens to make it look pretty. Add some sunflower seeds, almonds, or tortilla bits to add some hard crunch and a nutty flavor. Add avocado, salsa, cheese chunks, chickpeas, hummus, or anything else your grain bowl still needs after that first bite. You’ll know if something is missing or not. Once you add it, you’ll notice a huge difference.

The thing to remember here is that you can make it as complex or as simple as you want. You can also get really creative and use your leftovers in these bowls. This is a great way to use them up (Thanksgiving is coming up soon!) without blowing up your diet.

I’ll be enjoying a few myself this winter with some warm broth too. Might even be better than soup.

If you make your own bowl, please share what ingredients you used and how it turned out!

In love an light,


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