Several years ago, my in-laws Dana and Joan encountered significant health issues.  Joan was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, while Dana continued to struggle with high cholesterol even though he was taking statins and eliminating most fats from his diet.  Instead of diving into even more medication, they decided to make a serious diet change–by going vegan.  They signed up for cooking classes at their local Whole Foods, learned how to eat a balanced vegan diet, and guess what?  Dana’s cholesterol returned to a normal level, and Joan rid herself of the pre-diabetic status.

Was it easy?  Surely not–it’s never easy to change years of eating habits that include meat and milk and cheese and buttercream frosting (okay, I don’t even know if they like buttercream frosting, but I’m just saying I think that might be a hard one for me to give up).  They found a supportive community at Whole Foods, and they learned that with excellent ingredients and several key recipes, eating as vegans was actually quite enjoyable–and delicious.

One of the recipes they passed on to me from this time is something Whole Foods called “Wellness Bowls o’Goodness”, but I’ve heard them more commonly called Buddha Bowls.  I’m so grateful they shared this with Dan and me, and today I’m going to keep on paying it forward because these bowls are not only TASTY but an excellent way to eat up all those veggies and greens you’re getting in your fall share.

According to the good folks at Whole Foods Market Culinary Education, a Buddha bowl includes your base of cooked whole grains or starch veggies, and toppings in these categories:

  • cooked beans
  • greens (lightly steamed or raw)
  • veggies (roasted, lightly steamed or raw)
  • herbs and spices
  • sauce (such as fresh salsa, hot sauce, salad dressing, tamari, etc.)

For the Buddha bowl pictured in this post, I started by cooking 1 cup of organic brown basmati rice with 1 tsp Real Salt seasoned salt.  I used 1 cup of cooked rice for my bowl and saved the rest for fried rice to be made later in the week.  (Quick note here: I found it easier to season–if necessary–each food as I went along instead of trying to season the whole bowl at the end.) I topped my rice with the following:

  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 cup whole leaf fresh spinach, sauteed for about one minute, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms (grown ourselves–we should have these for sale soon!) sauteed with 2 T sliced leek
  • 1/4 cup watermelon radish, chopped (I was hoping these would be ready for your share this week, but they need a little more time.  We do, however, have daikon radish for you, and that will work just as well!)
  • 1/4 cup red cabbage, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • Asian vinaigrette: 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1/2 tsp soy sauce, 1 minced garlic clove

I tell you what.  I felt so so good after eating this for lunch.  And really, there are so many possible variations for the Buddha bowl, that you could make this work for any meal of the day.

To wrap this up, I want to return to Dana and Joan’s story.  Soon after those cooking classes at Whole Foods, my in-laws moved from Maine to the Midwest to our little town of DeMotte (yay!).  They discovered that it was hard to keep up a vegan diet here, and they’ve since allowed small amounts of meat and dairy back into their diet.  But they still love their Buddha bowls, and I’m sure they–along with me!–would love to hear your ideas for a tasty bowl of goodness.

Photography: Anne Kingma