Conscientious Cook: Power Bowls

One-bowl meals to fuel summer adventures

By Annie Fenn MD // Photography by Paulette Phlipot

A bowl provides the perfect vessel for presenting a meal that is simultaneously healthy and sustaining, yet simple and undemanding. Food just tastes better when eaten from a bowl! It’s true. In fact, psychologists have found that digging into a bowl full of food just makes you feel more satiated, especially if it’s filled to the brim.

That must be why the first step in all my quintessentially summery bowl recipes is to grab my favorite bowl—a handmade, one-of-a-kind, ceramic piece that’s as deep as it is wide. Next, I rummage through the fridge and pantry for food that fits my mood. I don’t want to heat up the kitchen or get all fussy with too many ingredients because, well, IT’S SUMMER! Cooking should be breezy and easy in the summer, so I make the most of what I pull from the garden, find in my CSA box, or haul home from the farmer’s market.

My favorite power bowls have a satisfying whole grain base. Why grains? I happen to love the toothsome texture of whole grains, as it makes the perfect bed for building a bowl meal. Plus, three servings of whole grains per day are recommended for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease prevention. (Want to fend off dementia with food? Yeah, I thought so.) And they satisfy summer hunger like no plain old salad can.

There’s a whole world of grains to discover that go far beyond quinoa and brown rice —think farro and freekeh (an ancient roasted supergrain), amaranth and barley, and my new favorite: forbidden rice. In the morning, I love a comforting bowl of farro with almond milk, seasonal berries, and nuts. Later in the day, my bowl cries out for something green, something pickled, and a good dollop of protein. A luscious sauce brings it all together and a flavor-packed, nutrient-dense topping adds texture and crunch.

Summer power bowls require a bit of advance planning. If I stock the fridge and freezer with pre-cooked grains, jars of sauces, and quick-pickled veggies ahead of time, I won’t have to turn on the oven or stove later. When hunger strikes, all I need to do is grab my favorite bowl, assemble, and enjoy. Don’t forget that these beautiful bowl meals are designed to be portable, too. So take that bowl outside and dig in under the summer sky.

*Note: For on-the-go meals, all grains can be cooked ahead of time. Cooked grains will store in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months. Just heat, combine, and serve.


Warm Farro
Breakfast Bowl

with hazelnuts and huckleberries

1 cup farro, semi-pearled, cooked according
to package directions
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup hazelnuts, skinned, chopped, and toasted
1/2 tablespoon raw honey
1/2 cup huckleberries, fresh or frozen

Place cooked farro in a bowl. Stir in almond milk, cinnamon, and olive oil. Top with hazelnuts, honey, and huckleberries.


farmer’s market detox bowl
with avocado cilantro dressing

1 cup brown rice, cooked according to package directions
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup shredded kale (steamed, sautéed, or raw)
1/4 cup Quick Pickled Carrots
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
1 cup arugula
1 dollop Avocado Cilantro Dressing
2 tablespoons Crispy Cumin Spiced Chickpeas

Place one cup each brown rice and quinoa in the bottom of a bowl. Top with cherry tomatoes, kale, pickled carrots, hard-boiled egg, and a handful of arugula. Add a generous dollop of dressing and sprinkle with chickpeas.

For the quick pickled carrots:
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups carrots, shaved into long pieces with a vegetable peeler

Place rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl and stir to dissolve. Add carrots and let sit for at least an hour. Keep for up to seven days in the fridge.
For the avocado cilantro dressing:
1 half an avocado
1/4 cup full fat yogurt
1/2 cup water
1 cup cilantro leaves and stems
1 small garlic clove
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine.

For the crispy cumin spiced chickpeas:
2 cups cooked chickpeas (fresh or canned)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt

Dehydrate cooked chickpeas on a baking sheet in a 200ºF oven until crispy (about 3 hours). Toss with olive oil, spices, and salt. Bake at 350ºF for an additional 15 minutes, or until brown and toasty.


banh mi forbiddien rice bowl

1 cup forbidden rice, cooked according to package directions
1 cup shredded carrots (use a vegetable peeler for longer shreds)
1/4 cup Quick-Pickled Onions and Jalapeños
1/2 cup cooked, sliced chicken sausage (Thai-spiced is preferred)
1 cup mustard greens
2 tablespoons Hot Chili Mayo
1/4 cup chopped toasted cashews
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (mint, cilantro, basil, or a mixture of all 3)

Place one cup of forbidden rice in the bottom of bowl. Top with sliced carrots, Quick-Pickled Onions and Jalapeños, chicken sausage, a handful of greens, and drizzle with mayo. Top with cashews and chopped herbs.

For the hot chili mayo:
2/3 cup vegan or traditional mayonnaise
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (Sriracha or Sambal Oelek)
Mix mayo, green onions, and chili sauce with a spoon. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

For the Quick-Pickled
Onions and Jalapeños:
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced jalapeños
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Place the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir to dissolve. Add red onion and jalapeños. Let sit for at least an hour. Keep for up to seven days in the fridge.

*Note: For on-the-go meals, all grains can be cooked ahead of time. Cooked grains will store in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months. Just heat, combine, and serve.