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How To Build a Balance Bowl

Let's start with WHAT is a balance bowl? It's a bowl of super nutritious, healthy, yummy food. It usually includes a carb, fat and protein and is, therefore, very filling. Balance bowls help you to identify what veggies you love and can encourage you to try new foods. A great start to your day or post-workout meal, get your butt in the kitchen and make a balance bowl!

The first thing you do is assemble some veggies and protein that you want to eat. Make sure you choose lots of greens like kale and/or spinach and maybe some beans or tofu. You can add on some avocado for a healthy fat and maybe a whole grain or potato. I always add tahini sauce or use 1 tbsp of olive oil for extra flavor and spice. You can assemble a balance bowl as you wish but this is the way I do it, no rules, so whatever you think is best!

1. Assemble and prepare your greens. I always steam my greens and use either kale or spinach or sometimes both. There is no, absolutely no such thing as too many greens. You can steam them and add a pinch of sea salt for flavor during the steaming process. Once your greens are done cooking, place them on one side of your bowl.

2. Add additional veggies. Steam or bake some carrots, steam some organic corn, bake some brussel sprouts or broccoli. Add these additional veggies to your bowl next to your greens. You want to see all the ingredients you are adding to your bowl so assemble the ingredients next to one another.

3. Add and prepare a protein. Add tofu, chickpeas, adzuki beans, etc. If you buy uncooked beans in bulk like I do, soak them overnight. The next day, drain, rinse and boil the beans. Lower the heat and cover until the beans are soft and mushable but not too overcooked. You should be able to crush the bean with a fork. For tofu, you can bake it, steam it or saute it. Place your tofu or beans in a bowl and spice them up. Add a tiny bit of olive oil and any spices you love. I add cumin, powdered garlic, sea salt and pepper. Or curry powder or dill. Whatever you wish. Add the prepared protein to your bowl next to your veggies.

4. Add a whole grain or potato. I tend to add one or the other but not both since they are super filling. If you are trying to lose weight like me, you want your bowl to be mostly veggies. For me, adding rice and a potato is too much. But you need to go with how YOUR body feels. Bake your potato or steam them. I bake mine with spices and coconut oil. I make my rice in my rice cooker and add 1 tbsp of olive oil and a little sea salt. Place next to your veggies.

5. Add a fat. 1/2 of an avocado is fabulous. If you use tahini sauce to cover everything, this is also a healthy source of fat. The olive oil is also healthy fat. You can also add nuts such a almonds or walnuts. Place on top of your veggies if you run out of room.

6. Add seeds or superfoods (optional). You can add hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, anything you would pair with veggies. Sprinkle on top of ingredients.

7. Use a sauce (optional). I LOVE tahini sauce!!! You can buy it at Trader Joe's or make it yourself with sesame seeds. Instead of using a whole avocado, you can make a sauce with it. You can use cashews and make a cheesy sauce. The possibilities are endless.

Once you have assembled your bowl with all the ingredients next to one another, add the sauce and coat the ingredients evenly. Feel free to try different veggies. I encourage you to find your local farmers market and go there to explore what they have. Talk to the farmers about what they treat their produce with or if they are organic, talk to them about how to cook different veggies and what you pair the veggies with. I've had so many great conversations with local farmers here in NYC and many times you don't know how the produce is grown until you speak to the farmers. Buy organic when you can, especially greens and corn (highly GMO) and buy local.

The best way to take care of yourself is through mindful eating and putting healthy, whole foods in your body (easier said than done, right?). These balance bowl are a wonderful way to love yourself. You are putting food into your body that is easily digestible and it gives your body the nutrients and fiber it needs. It's so easy to be a junk food vegan, especially in NYC. There are countless vegan restaurants, bakeries, ice cream places and it's taken me almost two years to walk by them or just make food at home. I love to cook, hence this blog but I also love going out to a restaurants with friends or even myself and enjoying a new food or a cupcake (haha). For me, I have to make a conscious effort to be truly plant in eating plants, not plant products or plants that are highly processed. Being vegan doesn't mean you are eating mostly fruits and veggies and even though the vegan diet is healthier than a meat and dairy diet, you can still eat too much sugar and neglect the veggies. This is why, in my opinion, it's easy to be vegan because it's now MADE to be easier, You can have your cupcakes, pancakes, fake meats, milkshakes etc and still be vegan. However, it doesn't necessarily mean you are eating healthy. I love these balance bowls because they encourage me to just focus on veggies, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats and ditch the processed vegan food.

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