Make Healthy Comfort Food Magic With These 3 Easy Bowl Recipes

Photo: Courtesy of Nina Olsson.
What's one easy way to make a healthy meal more comforting? No, not with magic — just eat it out of a bowl. While these serving vessels are NOT mythical, they are prime for spill-safe, horizontal noshing on your couch (or bed — no judgement). And more importantly, they can also hold any kind of meal — whether you're craving soup, grains, salad, or a killer combo of all three. Dressing up healthy recipes with creative sauces and toppings is a major comfort move for any tiresome winter meal.
If you're looking for inspiration on how to nail this dining sorcery, then we recommend taking a page (or three) out of recipe magic maker Nina Olsson's Bowls of Goodness. Olsson's cookbook turns familiar veggie-centric recipes into easily elevated and vibrant fare. So scroll ahead to turn into your own meal magician with three Insta-worthy recipes — from stacked burrito bowls to savory granola parfaits. No magic wand required, only a spork.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nina Olsson.
Baja Mexican Bowl
Serves 4

1 cup quinoa
Bunch of heirloom cherry tomatoes or tomatillos, finely diced
1 white or red onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
Juice of 1 lime
Baja sauce
⅔ cup sour cream
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of salt
Spicy beans
Olive oil
2 shallots, diced
14 1/2 oz. can beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups Le Puy lentils, cooked
1 tsp ground or fresh oregano
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped to a paste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1–2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp salt

Serve With
2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced
Lime wedges
Corn tortilla chips (optional)
Hot sauce like Cholula or Sriracha
Hemp seeds
Bunch of spinach

1. Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions, then drain and set aside. Mix the ingredients for the salsa and the Baja sauce and set aside.

2. Heat a skillet and add a drizzle of olive oil. Cook the shallots over medium low heat until translucent. Add another drizzle of olive oil and the rest of the spicy bean ingredients, cooking for 5 minutes over low heat.

3. Divide the quinoa and spicy beans in serving bowls. Add the avocado, lime wedges, tortilla chips, salsa, and Baja sauce. Serve with hot sauce, hemp seeds, and spinach leaves.

Tip: Use avocado instead of the sour cream for making the Baja sauce.

Excerpted from © Bowls of Goodness by Nina Olsson, Kyle Books, 2017, and the photographs © Nina Olsson.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nina Olsson.
Farro & Heirloom Tomatoes
Serves 4

1 1/4 cups farro, preferably wholegrain, pre-soaked for 8 hours
Few sprigs of fresh rosemary
¾ lb. heirloom cherry tomatoes of different colors, halved or quartered according to size
2 red onions, quartered
Olive oil
2 handfuls of toasted pine nuts
14 ½ oz. can cannellini beans
¼ lb. black olives, pitted
Bunch of mixed fresh herbs, such as purple basil, parsley, and mint, chopped
Salt and pepper
Balsamic Dressing
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, finely chopped to a paste
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt and pepper

To Serve
Burrata or vegan mozzarella
Basil leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and toast the farro, stirring constantly,for 4 to 5 minutes. Add 4 cups with a good pinch of salt and the rosemary and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to simmer. Whole-grain pre-soaked farro cooks in 40 minutes. Pre-soaked semi-pearled farro cooks in 20 to 25 minutes, and pearled farro cooks in 15 minutes with no soaking needed.

3. Taste the farro. It should have a good bite, but not be too mushy. Remove the rosemary and drain the farro well. Spread onto a clean dishtowel and let it dry for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, arrange the tomatoes on the lined baking sheet, cut side up, with the onion. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 25 minutes. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and set aside. In a dry skillet, toast the pine nuts until fragrant.

5. Rinse and drain the cannellini beans and pat dry with paper towels. Put the beans, farro, roasted tomatoes and onions, olives, and herbs in a bowl and mix well. Drizzle with the balsamic dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls topped with creamy pieces of burrata and basil leaves.

Excerpted from © Bowls of Goodness by Nina Olsson, Kyle Books, 2017, and the photographs © Nina Olsson.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nina Olsson.
Kale & Quinoa With Savory Granola
Serves 4

3/4 cup quinoa
3 1/2 cups fresh green leaves, such as baby kale, baby spinach, and Swiss chard, washed and drained
Olive oil
1/2 lb. brown mushrooms, brushed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped to a paste
4–5 scallions, thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Savory Granola Ingredients
Drizzle of olive oil
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 tbsp fresh or dried thyme
Pinch of red pepper flakes

To Serve
Bunch of cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup cottage cheese

1. To make the granola, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and stir-fry the oats, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, and pine nuts until fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme, red pepper flakes, and salt, then remove from the heat.

2. Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions and drain. Remove any thick stalks from the greens and tear into pieces. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic, sauté until the mushrooms are brown, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions and greens and sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes. Stir-fry until the greens are wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

3. Divide the quinoa, kale, and mushroom mixture into serving bowls. Top with some savory granola and add fresh cherry tomatoes and cottage cheese.

Excerpted from © Bowls of Goodness by Nina Olsson, Kyle Books, 2017, and the photographs © Nina Olsson.
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Bowls of Goodness by Nina Olsson, $26.30, available at Amazon.
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