The Buddha Bowl.
A concept that gained popularity at avocado-and-kale-like rates, this loosely defined dish is a favourite of hippy cafes and Pinterest boards everywhere. Wholly Green Mo’ approved, the basic idea is a hearty, nutritious bowl filled with greens, raw or roasted veggies, beans, and cooked grains like quinoa or farro. Normally jazzed up with a drizzle of dressing (probably named ‘Green Goddess’), and perhaps topped with nuts, seeds or coconut – it’s a whole foods, plant-based dream.
The name invokes feelings of mindfulness; of Ayurveda, balancing mind, body and spirit; of meditation… and whilst the Green Mo’ wholly encourages a bit of nourishment for the soul, we thought we’d ponder a little further on the origins of the Buddha bowl.
A popular (and, embarrassingly, my first) thought, is that a bowl loaded to the brim looks like Buddha’s rounded belly – but according to the co-authors of ‘Buddha’s Diet’ – scientist and Zen priest Dan Zigmond and wellness writer Tara Cottrell, Buddha himself was slim and not the round-bellied figure Western culture has come to morph him into – that was another monk, years later.
Buddha taught that food should sustain life and good health, not overtake your life. “It was a Middle Way, so that on the one hand, his followers wouldn’t be too focused on food, and on the other hand, it would allow them to sustain themselves and nurture their bodies.” Zigmond says. The ‘Bowl’ image may come from Buddha’s practice of walking through villages with a bowl, living off of donations, eating only that which was given.
Maybe the name for this vegan trend comes from the compassion Buddhist monks give to eating. A central Buddhist worldview states that following an eightfold path taught by Buddha can end craving, and lead to Nirvana (liberation). Part of that path is ‘Right livelihood’; embracing compassion and avoiding harm. Buddhist monks are not allowed to kill any animal (<3), and their vegetarian and unprocessed diet would be filled with simple vegetables and grains. Sounds much like the plant-powered Buddha bowl we’ve come to love!
Our two cents
There are many theories as to where it all came from. Ours? – It has a catchy name. And with a giant bowl full of rainbow-coloured veggies, grains, protein and fresh herbs, bursting with nutritious goodness and drizzled with a generous glug of your favourite dressing, how could it not catch on?
The beauty of these babies is the creativity – endless delicious combinations like this comforting sweet potato chickpea feast from vegan blogger Minimalist Baker (I essentially lived on this when I began experimenting with plant-based diets), or this quinoa-rice number with a spicy peanut sauce from Slapdash Mom.
At Green Mo, though, we like rainbows! Packing in as many colours as you can not only makes it look gorgeous (we know you’re gonna Instagram it), but it also means you’re treating your body to a wide variety of healthful vitamins and minerals.
Green Mo’s Lemon White Bean dressing
For an extra protein punch, here’s our current favourite dressing. Light, refreshing and summery as the sun finally decides to come and play, this creamy lemon white bean sauce is delicious on anything and everything!
1 ½ cups cooked cannellini (white) beans
2 tbsp coconut oil (you can switch in ¼ avocado if you want to skip the oil)
2 tbsp tahini – make sure it’s the one-ingredient type!
1 garlic clove, crushed
Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
A little fresh parsley or cilantro
1tbsp nutritional yeast (optional, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a great vegan source of B12)
Super simple to make – just bung it all in a blender and add water slowly until it’s as thin as you like it, then smother it all over everything and enjoy!