Lunch time is my least favourite meal. I find it really tricky thinking of new recipes to have and often I meal prep the same to last me four or five days in a trot. That’s why I love buddha bowls.
I regularly see people venting on the coeliac Facebook groups about their lack of lunchtime options. I want to help people think outside the box, beyond ham and cheese sandwiches or tuna pasta salads. There is a wealth of ingredients out there that are all coeliac-friendly and boast far superior nutritional stats to bog-standard supermarket free-from sandwiches.
The beauty of a buddha bowl is that you can chuck any combination of ingredients you have in your pantry and fridge and call it a buddha bowl.
What is a Buddha Bowl?
A Buddha Bowl is generally a vegetarian bowl with small portions of different kinds of food.
A typical buddha bowl has:
- A carbohydrate source (like quinoa, rice, pitta, tortilla chips)
- A protein (like tofu, lentils or beans)
- A few vegetables
- A sauce
- A crunchy component
What’s in my Buddha Bowl?
This gluten-free buddha bowl uses quinoa as the carbohydrate source. Ever since I learnt how to cook quinoa perfectly, I have it for lunch most days. It was once quite pricey but now you can buy bags of 6 servings for as little as £1.
I always feel so much better when I eat a quinoa-based salad bowl for lunch. It’s not too heavy. It’s full of protein and fibre. And it easily absorbs whatever flavours you fancy. In this buddha bowl, you can cook it in water or vegetable stock, whatever you prefer.
There are two protein sources in this, but one also counts as the “crunch”. The main source is the butter beans, which are super creamy. Butter beans are fibre-filled, a great source of folate, iron and starch to give your body the energy to power through the afternoon.
The second source is the tahini-coated nuts and seeds. If you don’t already know, tahini is a smooth, nut butter-esque paste made from toasted hulled sesame seeds. It’s rich and nutty and it’s gives my oil free hummus a good dose of healthy fats and an earthy flavour.
The combo of tahini, seeds (I use pumpkin and sunflower) and nuts (I use cashews) is hunger-busting. Fat expands in your stomach, keeping you fuller for longer.
Seeds on their own can be quite boring and reminiscent of bird food. But with a little creativity you can bring them to life.
I got the idea to coat the seeds in a tahini-tomato paste mixture after making From My Bowl‘s pizza nuts. She coats cashews and almonds in tomato puree, nutritional yeast, soy sauce/tamari, and herbs and they taste just like the pizza flavoured pringles (which are also off limits to gluten-free folks, so hey, another recipe for you!).
To finish the bowl off, I sautee kale and cherry tomatoes and splash some balsamic vinegar in for some tang!
This bowl is rich in calcium, with no dairy products to be seen! Kale and tahini are calcium-dense plant-based foods that are great if you are avoiding dairy too.
How long does it keep for?
If you decide to prep this for lunches, it should keep for around 5 days in the fridge.
Don’t assemble the full bowl with the nut and seed mixture mixed through or they will go soft. You want to keep the crunch by keeping the nuts in a sealed container in the cupboard, not the fridge.
Try it out! I opted for these flavours, but the great thing about buddha bowls is that they can be customised to your own tastes. Maybe omit the tahini and use peanut butter. Or instead of balsamic, add a dash of tamari. The options are endless!
Tahini Balsamic Buddha Bowl
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup (or 55g) cashews
- 1/3 cup (or 55g) mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 2-3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups / 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups / 100g kale, washed and chopped
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1x 400g tin butter beans, drained
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
- Prepare your quinoa with vegetable stock according to my how to cook quinoa tutorial (linked above recipe)
- Mix the sauce for your seeds (ingredients from tahini to water). It should be thick enough to coat the nut/seed mixture but thin enough that it’s not clumpy. Mix the seeds and nuts with the sauce and spread it out evenly on a lined baking sheet.
- Pop the tray of seeds in the oven - cook for 5 minutes, then remove and mix around, then in for another 3 minutes, remove again and mix up, then back in for a final 3 minutes.
- Heat a pan on medium and fry the garlic in the oil. Toss in the tomatoes and kale, mix around for a couple of minutes, and then splash in the balsamic vinegar.
- When the tomatoes are blistered and the kale has softened, add the beans and heat through. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
- Assemble your bowls! I drizzled extra tahini on top of mine, but you could add hummus, hot sauce - anything you fancy!