by Shannon Crocker, RD
Cooking meals at home with nutrient-rich, minimally processed foods is one way to help you and your family to be healthy.
Making healthy meals that are also EASY is a super strategy to boost nutrition while keeping mealtime stress at a minimum. Nourish bowls are my go-to for quick and simple meals.
What is a nourish bowl?
A nourish bowl is like a more filling version of a salad, made with a mixture of grains, vegetables and protein. It’s a satisfying meal that’s quick to put together, especially if you prepare a few ingredients in advance. Plus, nourish bowls are a great way to use up extra or leftover food – and everyone in your family can build their bowl the way they like it!
Here’s what you need:
1. Whole grains
Fill about a quarter of your bowl with grains, preferably whole grains, because they are filled with more gut-friendly and heart-healthy fibre compared to refined or milled grains. I love to include Canadian grains like barley, wheat berries or quinoa in my nourish bowls. Each has a slightly nutty flavour. You can also build a bowl with other Canadian-grown grains such as bulgur, freekeh, farro, kamut or amaranth. Brown rice is another option.
Time saver: Cook a batch of grains and keep it in the fridge so you have grains ready to add to bowls.
Neat to know: When you combine protein-rich foods such as turkey with plant-based foods such as whole grains, it creates a food synergy: certain nutrients work together to increase absorption of other nutrients. For example, in the bowl recipe below, the zinc in the turkey helps to absorb the zinc from the barely.
Here’s a big difference between a nourish bowl and a salad: nourish bowls don’t typically include lettuce! Instead, they are loaded up with just about any other veggie.
Fill about half of your bowl with veggies. Include two or three for a variety of nutrients, colours and textures. Depending on the vegetable, you can enjoy them cooked or raw. Look for Canadian veggies in season.
Time saver: Wash and chop carrots, celery, peppers and other veggies in advance.
Neat to know: Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh, and they’re a superb option when fresh veggies aren’t in season. Try thawing frozen corn kernels and browning them lightly in a frying pan before adding to your bowl.
Add protein to create a balanced meal that satisfies your hunger. Health Canada recommends that you fill one-quarter of your plate (or bowl, in this case!) with protein foods, such as lentils, eggs, cheese, nuts and lean meats like turkey.
When it comes to protein foods, turkey is one of my top choices. Here’s why:
- Turkey is packed with high-quality protein that helps you feel energized and satisfied.
- Both the dark meat and white meat of turkey are lean (without the skin), and so is ground turkey.
- Turkey is nutrient-rich, meaning that it has lots of nutrients per calorie.
- All cuts of turkey are excellent sources of vitamin B12*, which is only found in animal products. This vitamin helps support your immune system and nervous system (your body’s electrical wiring).
Neat to know: All cuts of turkey provide body-boosting nutrients, but dark meat is richer than white meat in some nutrients including iron, zinc and selenium. Dark meat lovers rejoice!
*Per 100-gram serving
Mediterranean Turkey Nourish Bowl with Lemony Vinaigrette
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1 very small clove garlic, pressed
- a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups cooked cubed turkey
- 2 cups sliced and quartered English cucumber (about 1 small)
- 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
- 2 cups chopped sweet yellow pepper (1 pepper)
- 2 cups cooked barley, brown rice or quinoa (optional)
- 1 cup caned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 4 Tbsp sliced kalamata olives
- Lemony Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
- Nourish Bowl: Divide turkey, cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, rice and chickpeas among four bowls. Top with feta, onion and olives. Drizzle with lemony vinaigrette.
Time saver: Cook a turkey breast on the weekend so you’ve got turkey ready to add to this nourish bowl for a quick weekday meal. Also super for adding to sandwiches and soups!
Bonus: 3 flavour boosters
Nourish bowls are even tastier sprinkled with these toppings:
- Nuts or seeds: Slivered almonds and pumpkin seeds add a crunchy nutrition boost.
- Shredded or crumbled cheese: Pick one with a rich flavour, so you need only a little.
- Dynamite dressing: Homemade dressings are easy to make. Stir together canola oil, balsamic vinegar, a bit of minced garlic, salt and pepper – and bam!
Neat to know: Canola oil is a Canadian oil with a neutral flavour. It’s super for making dressings (like in the bowl above) because it lets the other ingredients shine.