Powerbowls to pave the way for health and convenience


Step aside salad and juice, a new food trend is underway for 2016.

Instagrammers everywhere have boasted about their clean eating habits, which include raw juice, gluten-free foods, acai dishes and now power bowls. What's a power bowl? It's a smoothie bowl, salad bowl or anything that is spoonable and beneficial to the human body.

Eating a power bowl does not require locating a high-end organic bar, but calls for a variety of tasty ingredients and can be consumed at any time of the day. A simpler way to describe a power bowl is a salad that isn't messy. Typically, the bowl contains salad or smoothie ingredients neatly spread and organized next to each other in a bowl.

Rachel Alves, registered dietitian of Guido's Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield, Mass., said the aesthetic of power bowls offers a variety of flavor, texture and beauty.

"Whether you are eating out of a plate or a bowl, one should still be mindful of the content of the meal. Most power bowl recipes include foods from most food groups, which makes eating from a bowl a nutritious choice," she said. "The bowl is not just beautiful, but it also provides energy in every bite."

Also popular this year, acai bowls are taking up room at the trendy foods table. Yahoo! Food declared acai bowls one of the 16 food trends to take off in the new year. The purple superfruit is rich with antioxidants and healthy fats. Some partner the fruit with coconut, chia seeds, bananas, almond, granola and more fruit. One might consider it similar to frozen yogurt bowls.

The globally inspired bowl meals stem from protein bowls, Buddha bowls, broth bowls, quinoa bowls and globowls. They can be served cold or warm and incorporate the main macronutrients necessary for a day's worth: fat, carbohydrates and protein.

Sara Wing, registered dietitian and director of Health & Wellness for Cabot Creamery Cooperative, deciphers a serving size for a bowl with and without the "power."

"Eating a meal from one bowl is a great way to monitor how much you eat," she said in an email. "For a smoothie bowl, choose one that holds 1½ to 2 cups of food and 3 to 4 cups for a power bowl. A great way to check your bowl size is by filling the bowl with water and then pouring the water into a measuring cup."

Power bowls make it easier to see what ingredients are used in the dish, something that can come in handy when eating out if you are trying to avoid processed foods.

"The "bowl" meal became popular because people could eat most of the major food groups in one meal out of one bowl — and it was delicious. The bowl meal does not appear to be disguising itself as something that it isn't," Alves said. "The recipes you find on the web or the 'bowl' offerings at natural food restaurants do appear to be nutritious and an easy way for people to eat healthier."

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When searching for power bowl ingredients, Alves suggests brown or wild rice and quinoa, grilled chicken, poached salmon and eggs, red bell peppers, and greens and beans. The bowls typically consist of layered whole grains, protein, vegetables and a choice of sauce or dressing.

The "power" in a bowl meal does not translate into instant energy, but gives a nod to the use of protein-packed ingredients paired with high-antioxidants. Alves said you would get the same nutritious result with these ingredients served on a plate; however, the bowl trend makes the food more appetizing and puts a spin on "do-it-yourself" recipes.

The presentation also helps control portion sizes. When eating on a flat plate, stacking food becomes an acceptable challenge; however, eating out of a soup bowl eliminates stacking and overeating.

A disadvantage to the trend is the never-ending build up of similar ingredients, which tend to make one dish extremely high in calories.

"Ingredients have the potential to be high in calories. Choose lower-calorie items (fruits and vegetables) to make up half or more of the ingredients and use toppings, like whole grains; lean proteins, like chicken, fish and tempeh; beans, avocado, nuts and nut butters, seeds, coconut and sweeter fruits, like pineapple, to boost flavor, add creaminess and crunch," Wing said.

Powerbowls are also a convenient choice for packing a lunch for work or when making soup and stew during the winter months.

Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.

Try this crunchy quinoa power bowl for lunch or dinner. This recipe makes six bowls.

Ingredients for bowl: 3 cups cooked quinoa; 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded; 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded; 1/2 cup diced green onions; 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped; 3/4 cup chopped almonds; 2 medium-size sweet potatoes, diced and roasted in the oven.

Ingredients for Almond Butter Dressing: 1/3 cup almond butter; 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil; 3 cloves garlic; 1-2 Tbs peeled fresh ginger; juice of 3 limes; water to thin as needed. To make dressing, add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Put together the bowl: Mix cooked quinoa, cabbage and dressing in a bowl and toss together until coated. Then add roasted sweet potato chunks to the bowl, along with the cilantro, chopped almonds and green onion, and gently toss together. Distribute into bowls to serve immediately or place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

— Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen recipe


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