We are using up the last of our garden cucumbers and tomatoes…. Is summer really over?! Every time I think about summer, I feel like it JUST STARTED. And when winter comes, it’s like it never ends… Anyone else feel this way?
This Gyro Bowl is the perfect recipe to sneak in the last taste of summer before we welcome (or endure) the chilly weather. If you make the tzatziki and rice beforehand, it's a super quick meal to throw together.
Are bowls healthy?
I gotta say, making any type of bowl is a go-to meal for me. I love a good Mexican or Asian or Mediterranean-inspired bowl. You can make this Gyro Bowl with meat and cauliflower rice to make it Paleo/Whole30, or with lentils to make it vegan.
Bowls are a very popular plant-based food. I am all for making a bowl vegan or vegetarian, but it is important to watch your carbohydrate sources and make sure to include enough protein. Let’s talk about how to build a healthy bowl, which carbohydrate sources are best, and how to figure out if you need to adjust your bowl ingredients.
How to build a healthy bowl
This is the thought process I follow with any dish, but let’s focus on building a bowl. With any type of bowl - whether it’s plant-based, paleo or anything in between - you want to follow a few guidelines:
Include a protein source (grass-fed meat, organic poultry, wild-caught fish, seafood, eggs, beans, lentils, tempeh).
Include a healthy fat (avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil).
Choose one - or max two - carbohydrate sources (more on this below).
Follow the plating rule: ½ of your plate should be non-starchy colorful vegetables, ¼ should be protein, ¼ can be starchy vegetables or grains.
Choosing the right amount of carbohydrates
Vegan Bowls are a tricky food because they tend to be high in carbohydrates. Carbs are an important macronutrient, but if you feel sleepy, anxious or irritable after eating a healthy bowl for lunch, it could be the carbs hitting you a bit too hard. Most carbohydrate-based foods can be placed into 3 categories.
These are the carbohydrate categories; choose 1-2 sources of carbohydrates for your bowl:
Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, plantains, potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnip, pumpkin, acorn squash, butternut squash, green peas
Beans/lentils such as chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, white beans, green lentils, red lentils, black lentils, tempeh, tofu (this is considered a protein + carbohydrate)
Grains such as wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, oats, sorghum, teff (this is considered a carbohydrate source, although some grains may have minimal protein)
I see SO MANY BOWLS contain an ingredient from each of the carbohydrate categories listed above. As an example, a bowl with too many carbohydrates would include beans, rice and sweet potatoes. For some people, a meal this high in carbs may be ok. For most people, especially if you're not active, a bowl this high in carbohydrates causes a spike and crash in blood sugar.
If you are feeling any of these symptoms after meals, it could be a sign that you are consuming too many carbohydrates:
If these symptoms apply to you, we can work together to balance your blood sugar! Until then, it may be a good idea to get your carbohydrate intake from starchy vegetables only, while avoiding grains completely and only consuming up to about ½ cup legumes per meal. I absolutely love recommending substitutes like cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles to my clients - this allows you to still enjoy your favorite dishes with a healthier twist!
Getting enough protein
Often the protein and fat sources are too low in a bowl, making you hungry an hour or two after your meal. A good target is about 30g of protein per bowl (yes, that high!). See this blog post for more information about protein needs and best sources of protein.
Unlimited amounts of non-starchy vegetables
If you are feeling like you are restricted on ingredients, I have good news: non-starchy veggies are an unlimited component!
You can include unlimited amounts of leafy greens, asparagus, celery, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cauliflower rice, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, bell peppers, leek, radicchio, radish, rutabaga, scallion/green onion, garlic, onion, shallot, mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini, tomato…. Or any other colorful vegetables you love!
How to determine your carbohydrate intake
There are so many nuances to discuss with carbohydrate intake - every single person is so bioindividual. We can get into the weeds and talk about properly preparing grains, or meal timing, or cycle syncing, or exercise routines… but in the end, it all depends on the person.
All the carbohydrate categories listed come with nutritional benefits, too - no food should be vilified. It all depends on the person - and nutrition needs are always evolving!
If you are struggling with trying to figure out how to eat for your body, I can help you!
Let’s work together if:
You want a better understanding of what you can and can't eat
You want to learn what foods trigger gut issues
You want to know how to fuel your body
You want to feel energized after meals, not sluggish and bloated
You want to consume balanced meals and have a healthy relationship with food