Instead of eating off a plate (how common!), the hot new restaurant trend is plopping everything into—wait for it—a bowl.
What, not revolutionary enough for you? Well, it’s actually a pretty mind-blowing, fit-body-building idea. No longer are you forced to limit yourself to just an entrée and two sides stuck on a dreary plate, looking like they’re doing time on the same cell block. Now you can pile on just about anything your heart desires—proteins, whole grains, vegetables, sauces—to make up an exciting, balanced meal with layers of complementary tastes.
Bowl meals are especially popular at healthy fast-food joints like Sweetfin Poké, Sweetgreen, and Chopt, which are spreading across the country. (For other hearty meals they’ve inspired, see Beasts in a Bowl: 6 of the Heartiest, Manliest, and Most Muscle-Building Salads a Guy Could Eat). They let customers choose from the entire menu to fill their bowl—to boost flimsy greens with hunks of lean steak and plantains, for example, or turn a boring “one fish, one veg, one potato” plate into a gratifying hodgepodge of salmon, sweet potatoes, rice, cukes, avocado, and a splash of vinaigrette.
To make your own bowl, says Rocket Fuel author Matt Kadey, R.D., “start with grains or a roasted sweet potato, add slightly smaller amounts of protein and vegetables, and end with some sort of spicy sauce—that’s the key to better-tasting bowl food.”
Here are some great bowl combos to whip (or order) up:
Steak (protein; energy-boosting iron)
Black beans (extra protein; fiber)
Jalapeños (metabolism-boosting capsaicin)
Whole-grain couscous (slow-burning carbs)
Yogurt- based tzatziki (more protein/probiotics)
Salmon (heart-healthy omega-3 fats)
Sweet potatoes (energizing grain-free carbs)
Chicken (clean, lean protein)
Lentils (filling fiber)
Spinach (vitamin K)
Feta cheese (bone-strengthening calcium)
Sliced almonds (cholesterol-fighting monounsaturated fats)