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As you’ve probably noticed, the grain bowl really is popping up everywhere lately. This mix of whole grains, raw and cooked veggies, meat or veggie proteins, nuts, pickled vegetables, plus a flavor-packed sauce or vinaigrette is a healthy comfort food packaged in bowl form.

Business Insider has been following the trend across the country since 2014. And they are still going strong today. You can find them at fast casual spots, fine-dining restaurants, and everywhere in between. And chefs around the country have been using grain bowls to flex their creativity and mix up the typical catering menu. If you haven’t considered the grain bowl yet, here are four reasons why you should.

1) Variety Is the Spice of Grain Bowls

When it comes to feeding a group, you need something filling. But you want to avoid weighing people down for the rest of the day. A grain bowls perfectly meets that need. And it can get you out of the sandwich-salad rut. It offers the variety that you need.

Not only that, the grain bowl works at any time of day. For breakfast, mix granola, fruit, or even a fried egg. At lunch, try them with quinoa, roasted brocolli, and a nice tahini sauce. Consumer Reports, agrees, saying that grain bowls are “filling, and you get a mix of flavors and textures in every bite.” You could eat them every meal and never get bored.

2) There Are Endless Health Benefits

These days, everyone wants to be eating healthier. As Fortune explains, consumers are demanding cleaner, healthier food options. So it’s no wonder grain bowls are hitting the big time. The dish really delivers when it comes to health benefits. As the American Heart Association notes, whole grains like brown rice or quinoa help lower cholesterol, and lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Start with that base, and then top on superfoods like black beans, salmon, kale, or blueberries. What a great way to add on high levels of vitamins and minerals into your diet.

3) Each Grain Bowl Is Super Customizable

Grain bowls are designed to be personalized. So that means everyone can get what they like or need. Vegan options are no problem. Spots like Plant Pure Cafe in Philadelphia offer a range of vegan proteins, like black beans, baked tofu, and soy curls. Or, if you’re looking for a gluten-free meal, add quinoa or black rice as your grain. Protein Bar in Chicago offers a Korean Bibi-Q Bowl that includes quinoa, chicken, diced cucumber, pickled carrots, and a sweet and spicy Korean sauce.

And for even more variety, a grain bowl bar allows everyone to mix and match a variety of ingredients and toppings to suit their needs — or just their mood. Salad Pangea in New York City, offers Middle Eastern version that includes chickpea salad, baked falafel, barbeque cauliflower, lemon garlic roasted chicken, a variety of fresh chopped veg, dates, tzatziki sauce, and Moroccan spiced lemon dressing.

4) They Showcase Creativity

Grain bowls are a great way for chefs to showcase their creativity. Some chefs prefer to get inspiration for cuisines around the world, like at Grabbagreen in Dallas. Their Moroccan Mac and Cheese is made with gluten-free quinoa noodles, chicken, cheddar jack, feta, and harissa sauce. And their Tokyo Bay comes with avocado, veggies like broccoli, carrot, cucumber, and edamame with brown rice, salmon, and miso ginger sauce.

There is so much room for interesting combinations and grain bowls suit nearly every type of cuisine. Say, you’re looking for a comfort food fix. Look no further than Locali Conscious Convenience in Los Angeles. Their Chili Bang Bang bowl is made with a zesty vegan chili and vegan cheddar cheese on top of quinoa. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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Leena Trivedi-Grenier

Written by:

Leena Trivedi-Grenier

Leena Trivedi-Grenier is a food and culture writer based in San Francisco. You can read her work online here, and find her on Twitter as @Leena_Eats and on Instagram as @leenaeats.

Posted in: Trends in FoodNeed to Know

Tagged with: Catering, Food Trends, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian