(image: Nutrition Stripped)
If you’ve scrolled through your social media in the last year, you’ve probably come across a slew of veggie-filled dishes called a “Buddha bowl.” They are usually deep, round bowls filled with healthy cooked and raw vegan ingredients that fill you up and keep you sustained for hours. The easiest way to throw these bowls together is to prepare a few different ingredients one evening during the week, particularly the cooked ingredients, and use them to make quick and fresh meals throughout the week.
You can follow the original Nutrition Stripped recipe, but Buddha bowls are an infinitely flexible concept. All you have to do is arrange some vegan protein, complex carbohydrates, and a healthy source of fat on a bed of raw leafy greens. I like to add a few odds and ends to bump up the flavor and texture of my Buddha bowls, and it’s a fantastic way to use up leftovers, like sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potatoes: Delicious and Nutritious
Feel free to omit or add any ingredients to this recipe, but don’t skimp on the sweet potatoes. In terms of nutrients per dollar, sweet potatoes provide an excellent return on your investment. They’re exceptionally nutrient dense and are a rich source of potassium, manganese, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Unlike white potatoes, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic load, so you get the benefit of sustained energy when you choose sweet potatoes over other simple starchy foods.
Sweet potatoes might actually contribute to a long, healthy life—if you’re willing to eat enough of them. The traditional diet of Okinawa, a Japanese prefecture, is almost 70% complex carbohydrates and characterized by foods that have a low glycemic load but are exceptionally high in antioxidants, like leafy green vegetables and the Okinawan purple sweet potato.
This traditional diet may help the people of Okinawa live remarkably long lives; the average lifespan is about 80 years for men and 87 years for women. In one study, blood tests of Okinawan centenarians revealed they had less oxidative stress than the control group of adults in their 70s.
You might be able to find purple sweet potatoes locally. They have a bold purple flesh, but the color of the skin may differ depending on which variety you find in your area. In the U.S., you’re more likely to find Stokes Purple sweet potatoes, which have a dark maroon skin. The rich color of the skin and flesh is due to the concentration of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant. These antioxidants are actually more effective at trapping free radicals (and preventing oxidative stress) than the anthocyanins in red cabbage and grapes. Look for these deep-hued potatoes at your local farmer’s market or organic grocery store in late summer through April. Try to use them within 2 weeks as they won’t last as long as white and yellow potatoes. When cooked, purple sweet potatoes maintain their gorgeous color and they look absolutely incredible in this Buddha Bowl recipe.
I also took the opportunity to include one of my favorite autumnal foods—lightly crisped, roasted Brussels sprouts. You only need a few for this recipe, and they taste great tossed with minced garlic, fresh rosemary, and olive oil.
What Other Nutrients Does This Buddha Bowl Provide?
The dark leafy greens in this recipe are a rich source of fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.[8, 9] Conveniently, the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat from the avocado, olive oil, and flax seeds will help your small intestine absorb vitamins A and K from the leafy greens and carrots, since the vitamins are fat soluble. The apple cider vinegar, which offers a multitude of benefits, will help emulsify the fats for absorption.
Have you ever tried a Buddha bowl? Do you have any tips? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.