Grain Bowl for Dinner: Healthy and Delicious

Grain bowl
Grain bowl (Photo by Keri White)

My husband and I have been integrating more plant-based meals into our diet recently, though we remain omnivores.

Inspired by the “grain bowl” craze that is sweeping the nation, I devised a healthy meal that was delicious, colorful, satiating and adaptable in terms of ingredients. I used groats as the main grain, and opted for an Indian flavor palate of ginger, turmeric, onion, garlic and chili pepper, and added some white beans for protein.

I roasted the winter veggies I had on hand — sweet potato, delicata squash and beets — in a bit of coconut oil and a generous sprinkling of “Sel a l’Indienne,” a specially seasoned curry salt that a generous friend brought me back from France last summer. (Equal parts salt and curry powder would be a perfect substitute.)

Because these two elements were rather dense and starchy, I dug around my crisper drawer and found some baby arugula that was too little for a salad but too much to toss. I chopped it up and used it as a garnish to lend some freshness, crunch and zing. Fresh parsley, dill, cilantro or chopped kale would work just as well.

The version below fed two generously, with a good amount of the grain mixture left to serve as a side dish with tomorrow’s meal

In terms of variety, the potential is practically limitless. Just be sure to follow the liquid proportions and cooking times for the grains on the package — quinoa and couscous cook for far less time than groats or brown rice. Select vegetables that cook for similar amounts of time in the oven, or stagger the process.

Grains: brown rice, groats, couscous, barley, quinoa, farro

Beans: garbanzos, black beans, pinto beans, lentils, kidney beans, great northern beans, soybeans, red beans, white beans

Vegetables: carrots, onions, broccoli, peas, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, sweet potatoes, beans, squash

Toppings: fresh herbs, scallions, baby spinach, micro-greens, sprouts

Seasonings: soy/ginger, cumin/chili powder, thyme/rosemary/sage, curry or simply use a premixed option like Jane’s Crazy Mixed-up Salt, Montreal seasoning or fajita seasoning

Grain Base

  • 1 cup groats, soaked, rinsed and drained as package indicates
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or preferred cooking oil)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chili pepper (if desired)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onions, ginger, garlic, chili, turmeric and salt until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the groats and stir to coat.

Add the water and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed and the groats are cooked, about 90 minutes. Stir occasionally.

When the groats are nearly done — after about 70 minutes — add the beans and stir.

Serve as a base for the grain bowls, topped as desired.

Curried Roasted Vegetables

Serves 2

Be sure to cut the vegetables into similar-sized chunks to ensure even cooking.

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 2 beets, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon curry salt, or ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon curry powder

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed cooking tray with parchment.

Place the chopped vegetables on the tray and toss them with oil and curry salt.

Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 45 minutes until they are cooked through and beginning to brown at edges.

For the topping:

  • 1 cup baby arugula, coarsely chopped
  • Sprinkle the arugula over the vegetables. 


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