Cooking with Uncommon Foods: Quinoa Buddha Bowls

Cooking with Uncommon Foods: Quinoa Buddha Bowls

There's a renaissance of rediscovering ancient foods and weaving them seamlessly into modern diets. One such "old-yet-new" grain that's capturing hearts and plates worldwide is quinoa. Originating from the high-altitude regions of the Andes Mountains, this tiny but mighty grain has transformed from a staple for the Incas to a superfood for global gourmets. As we all strive for meals that rejuvenate, the Buddha bowl is a testament to balanced eating. Combining quinoa's nutty goodness with vibrant vegetables, sumptuous proteins, and rich fats, Buddha bowls are a symphony of nutrients.



Quinoa: An Ancient Grain with Modern-Day Elegance


Before the global food stage ushered quinoa into the spotlight, it was deeply entrenched in the tapestry of South American culture. But what is it about this grain that’s allowed it to journey from ancient civilizations to contemporary kitchens?


A Storied Past and Proud Origins

Thousands of years ago, in the rugged terrains of the Andes, quinoa was more than just food—it was a lifeline. Revered by the Incas as the "mother grain", it played a pivotal role in their agricultural practices and religious ceremonies. Beyond the mighty Incas, quinoa sustained various indigenous tribes, proving its adaptability and resilience in diverse climates and altitudes.
Quinoa's Nutritional Greatness

Quinoa's Nutritional Greatness

This grain packs a punch when it comes to nutrition. Unlike most plant-based foods, quinoa boasts a complete protein profile, meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids our bodies require. It's also rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, and various antioxidants, solidifying its reputation as a nutritive powerhouse. Its versatility in the kitchen, combined with its health benefits, makes it a cherished ingredient for those conscious about their dietary choices.

The Varieties of Quinoa

Venture into the world of quinoa and you'll be greeted by a delightful spectrum of colors: white, red, black, and even rainbow mixes. While the subtle differences in flavor and texture might go unnoticed by a casual eater, avid cooks cherish these nuances. White quinoa, often described as the most delicate in flavor, cooks up fluffier, making it ideal for salads and bowls. Red and black quinoa, on the other hand, offer a slightly earthier taste and maintain a firmer texture after cooking, perfect for stews or as a side dish.



The Anatomy of a Buddha Bowl


There's something deeply satisfying about a dish that represents equilibrium. The Buddha bowl, with its balanced combination of ingredients and flavors, not only presents a feast for the eyes but also nourishes the body.


What is a "Buddha Bowl?"

The term "Buddha bowl" is a modern moniker that resonates with abundance and balance. While its origins are not directly tied to any religious practice, the bowl's name evokes the imagery of Buddha's round belly (a symbol of contentment, happiness, and prosperity). The dish's generous and diverse components mirror this sense of abundance, making each bite a journey.

The Foundation of the Buddha Bowl

Every masterpiece starts with a solid foundation, and for the Buddha bowl, it often begins with quinoa or rice. These grains, with their subtle taste, serve as the canvas upon which the other ingredients rest.

Where the Vegetables go in the Buddha Bowl

The inclusion of vegetables is where the culinary palette comes to life. From the earthy tones of beetroot and spinach to the bright hues of bell peppers and cherry tomatoes; vegetables add color, crunch, and nutrients.

The Buddha Bowl is a Protein Powerhouse

Tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, or even slices of grilled chicken or beef can elevate your bowl. Not only does it add depth and character to the dish, but it also ensures you get the essential dietary building blocks.

The Final Flourish: Fats and Dressings

Last but certainly not least, healthy fats and dressings tie everything together. A drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, or a dollop of avocado puree can transform your Buddha bowl from good to divine.


The Buddha bowl stands as a testament to how individual components, each unique and flavorful on its own, can come together in harmony to create a dish that's more than the sum of its parts.



recipe: quinoa buddha bowl with tofu

Recipe: Quinoa Buddha Bowl


Ingredients for Quinoa Buddha Bowl:



  • 1 cup quinoa (white, red, or mixed)
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth



  • 1 medium-sized beetroot, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved



  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 block of firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (for frying tofu)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Healthy Fats:

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced



  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Instructions for making Quinoa Buddha Bowl:


  1. Quinoa Preparation: In a medium saucepan, bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  2. Tofu Preparation: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu cubes, season with salt and pepper, and fry until they're golden and crispy on all sides. Set aside.
  3. Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your preference.
  4. Assembling the Bowl: Begin by placing the cooked quinoa at the base of your bowl. Arrange the beetroot slices, bell pepper, spinach, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, and fried tofu over the quinoa in individual sections or mixed, as per your preference.
  5. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top, lay out the avocado slices, and drizzle the dressing evenly over the bowl.
  6. Give everything a gentle toss if you like, or dive in and enjoy the medley of flavors in each bite.


Now you have a wonderful Quinoa Buddha Bowl!


Other Quinoa Quick Facts:

  • Origins of Quinoa: Indigenous to the Andean regions of South America, quinoa has nourished civilizations for thousands of years.
  • Quinoa is Not a Grain: Surprisingly, quinoa isn’t a grain. It’s a seed, closely related to spinach and beetroot.
  • Quinoa Protein Power: One of the few plant foods that offers all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source.
  • Quinoa is Gluten-Free: An excellent choice for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
  • Quinoa is Rich in Fiber: Promotes digestive health and keeps you feeling full longer.