This Mexican Buddha Bowl is packed with black beans, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and brown rice. Topped with guacamole, lime juice, or hummus.
Buddha Bowls are all the rage nowadays, and for good reason. It’s a bowl brimming with stuff that’s good for the body – veggies, protein, nuts, seeds, you name it! It’s become incredibly popular among vegans. But can be made with or without meat.
Personally, I’ve found it to be one of the easiest (and tastiest!) ways to get lots of veggies into my diet.
But first, what is a buddha bowl, anyway?
I’m sure you’ve seen them at least once in your Instagram and Pinterest feeds. They’ve quickly become one of the hottest new food trends on social media.
They’re made up of 4 main ingredients:
A Buddha bowl is a healthy dish made of different veggies, whole grains, nuts, lean protein, seeds; and flavored with dressing and spices. All that good stuff is placed in a big round bowl that resembles the belly of the Enlightened One.
Fun fact: Did you know that Gautama Buddha did not really have a huge belly? Yup, the famous depiction of a fat and cheerful Buddha is of a different person. Budai, also known as the “Laughing Buddha,” is a Chinese monk who practiced Buddhism.
But, despite the likeness between the bowl and Budai’s belly, the true origin of the dish is based on the real Buddha’s diet. According to Zen priest Dan Zigmond, Buddha would carry a bowl during his early morning walks, where locals would place whatever food they have as a donation. Buddha then ate whatever the people gave him. And that’s where it all began.
Ironically, while the dish is named after a deity’s plump tummy, it promotes clean eating and healthy living. It’s so nutritious that some people even call it the “Macro Bowl” because of all the macronutrients you get from eating it.
And there’s no end to the different combinations you can create! You can tailor the ingredients to your liking. In this article, I’ll be sharing a tasty Mexican version of the Buddha bowl – which is composed of, yup you guessed it, Mexican ingredients.
So, what ingredients go into a Mexican Buddha Bowl?
No matter what kind of Buddha bowl you make, it always follows a basic formula: grains + veggies + protein + dressing + seeds. The key is to add as many colorful and nutritious ingredients as possible. That way, not only will you get a healthy dish, but an Instagram-worthy one as well!
Here are some fantastic options to make a hearty and filling Mexican Buddha Bowl.
Let’s Start with the Grains
Whole grains serve as the base of your dish. They’re healthier and will keep you fuller than processed grains. Now, since a Buddha bowl is such a flexible dish, you can add whatever kind of whole grain you want. The ones below are all great for your Mexican bowl:
- Quinoa – Okay, technically, quinoa is a seed. But it’s here because we cook it as a grain. It’s on the top of my list because it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a legit superfood!
- Brown rice – Black rice and red rice are also just as filling and nutritious, so you can use those as substitutes, too!
- Couscous – This grain comes from semolina wheat. While it’s mainly carbohydrate, it contains protein, fiber, and a slew of vitamins and minerals.
- Barley – This whole grain originated from Eurasia and is common in bread and beverages. It’s a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Farro – This fiber-rich whole grain is packed with protein, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants! Plus, it has a nice chewy texture and nutty flavor that makes it perfect for this dish.
- Millet – These are tiny seeds used as grains. It has lots of calcium, iron, and zinc. It’s so popular nowadays because it is gluten-free, making it an ideal alternative to wheat. This fibrous grain also combats diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
- Freekeh – Also known as farik, it is made from roasted green durum wheat. It’s an ancient grain that originated from North Africa and Levantine and is still popular in many eastern Mediterranean cuisines.
Next Up: The Veggies
The great thing about this dish is that you can use cooked veggies from leftover meals. This way you’ll always end up with a tasty and unique dish! Try to add as many colors and textures as you can! With veggies, your choices are limitless. But, below are a few tasty options:
- Red and green onions
- Roasted sweet potato
- Brussel sprouts
- Butternut Squash
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Red pepper
- Avocado – okay, this isn’t technically a veggie, but who cares? It’s delicious, healthy, and adds a Mexican flair to your bowl!
Now, Add the Protein
Depending on your diet, you can either add an animal or plant-based protein into your bowl.
- Black beans
- Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans
Then, Jazz It Up With Dressing
And by dressing, I don’t mean the unhealthy kind! Try to avoid store-bought thousand island and ranch dressings sold at all costs. Homemade dressings are much healthier and are really easy to make. Here are some of my suggestions:
- Lime dressing – A combination of honey, oil, lime zest, lime juice, cumin, garlic, cayenne pepper, sour cream, salt, and pepper.
- Hummus – it’s creamy on its own, so no need to add anything to it.
- Pesto – Parsley, cashew, and cilantro. It makes for a great sandwich spread, too!
- Cashew dressing – Cashews, apple cider vinegar, minced shallot, dijon mustard, and honey.
- Vinaigrette with spicy Sriracha or Dijon mustard.
- Asian dressing – Just combine sesame oil and honey and it’s good to go.
Then, Go Nuts with Seeds and Nuts!
Nuts and seeds are not only a nutritious addition to the dish, but they also make it crunchy and tastier! These ingredients are all healthy, so you can’t go wrong with any of them.
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Chia seeds
Lastly, Spice it Up!
And I’m not just talking about your regular seasonings, here. Apart from salt and pepper, there is a plethora of spices and seasonings you can use to flavor your bowl!
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic powder
How to Make a Buddha Bowl
Now that we’ve got the ingredients covered, it’s now time to put together our Buddha Bowl. It’s just a matter of combining the ingredients and plating them up nicely to make your bowl pretty.
- Cook your grains. To prepare your grains, soak them in water and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until they are soft and have absorbed all the water.
- As for the veggies, whatever they are – roast them (except for corn, which you should grill). Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of your veggies. So you’ll end up with soft, caramelized, delicious veggies packed with all the good stuff.
Or if you’re like me, you can save a little time, grab the frozen veggies and cook them on the stove.
- Roasted nuts are more flavorful than raw ones, so cook them in a skillet for a few minutes before tossing them into your bowl.
- Combine all your ingredients starting with the grains, then the veggies, followed by the protein, and topped with your chosen dressing, nuts, and seeds.
Tips & Tricks
If you’re a busy parent who just doesn’t have time to cook delicious and healthy meals during weekdays, no worries! You can always prepare your Buddha bowl ahead of time.
- You can cook your rice and grill your corn three days in advance. Just store them in a container and refrigerate.
- Basil-lime vinaigrette can last for 5 days in the fridge as long as you to store it in a sealed container.
- While vegetables taste best when served fresh, you can chop them 1 day in advance to save time.
- Not a fan of cilantro? No problem! You can use basil instead.
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