“We live in a time where we want everything to be easy, short, and streamlined,” says Rip Esselstyn, New York Times bestselling author and founder of the Engine 2 Diet. “To me, the bowl is the epitome of that: It’s simple, hearty, with minimal cleanup.” With his upcoming book, 7-Day Rescue Diet, out December 27, he lays out the equation for optimal bowls that you can customize with your favorite foods. Esselstyn believes the bowl is another entry point to embrace a plant-strong diet for those who find it too daunting or fear plant-based meals won’t satiate hunger. We spoke to Esselstyn at the Seed Food and Wine Festival and got him to share his favorite, nutrient-rich combinations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All of them serve two.
1. Breakfast Bowl: Banana Steel Cut Oats
- 1 ripe spotted banana, smashed in its own skin
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 1 tbsp chia seeds or ground flax seed meal
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
- ¼ cup strawberries fresh or frozen, or berries of choice
- In a pot over medium heat add the smashed banana (no skin), water, and vanilla.
- Add the steel cut oats, bring to a boil, cover, and turn to simmer.
- Stir occasionally so the oats don’t stick to the bottom. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, depending how chewy you prefer your oats. If you like oats smoother, continue to cook a few minutes longer.
- Add chia seeds or ground flax seed meal, cinnamon, nutmeg, and stir. Serve in bowls topped with kiwi and strawberries. These oats are surprisingly sweet alone.
2. Salad Bowl: Cro-Magnon Man Salad
- 6-8 oz mixed salad greens
- 1 small apple, diced
- ½ cup cooked wild rice
- 2 tbsp dried cranberries
- ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted
- ½ cup dressing of choice
In your most caveman-like wooden bowl, combine the mixed greens, apple, wild rice, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Dress, toss, and devour, utensils optional!
3. Supper Bowl: Red Quinoa Bowl
- 2 cups red quinoa, uncooked
- 15 oz cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ red onion, diced
- ¼ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp lime juice (optional: add some lime zest)
- 2 cups butter lettuce leaves
- ½ cup pineapple chunks, fresh or canned in its own juice
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup Jane’s Dancing Dressing
To prepare the quinoa:
- In a rice cooker, prepare quinoa as directed (some quinoa needs to be rinsed ahead of time to remove a bitter, soapy flavor, and some quinoa has already been pre-rinsed). Or, in a pot over high heat, add 4 cups of water and 2 cups of quinoa. When the quinoa and water come to a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. When the quinoa is cooked and warm, it is time to make the beans.
To prepare the beans:
- Place the beans in a microwaveable bowl and heat for 60 seconds. Or, if you prefer the stovetop, place the beans in a small pot over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through and through. Add the cumin and lime juice and stir. Set aside.
Build your Red Quinoa Bowl:
- In the base of two large dinner bowls place the layer of butter lettuce followed by the quinoa and a layer each of beans, pineapple (and some of the juice, if you prefer), and red pepper. Top it all off with Jane’s Dancing Dressing. Grab your fork and dive into your Red Quinoa Bowl! Don’t forget to serve along with a green salad or a heaping helping of cooked greens.