How to make a Nourish Bowl

Author: Linn Thorstensson Dip NT mNTOI


How do you make a simple, nourishing bowl of food? Especially in an age where food and eating have become increasingly complicated?

I used to do a lot of food blogging some years ago. I think what drew me to it was the creative aspects of it: creating new recipes from ideas I had swirling around in my head, doing some writing around it, and the photography and styling of the food or dish.


Pix from Yoav Aziz on Unsplash
I spent many a Sunday doing the whole process from cooking, testing, styling, writing, editing and then finally uploading it to my blog. It was definitely a fun way to spend a day getting immersed in a creative pursuit. 


Not everyone loves cooking or thinking up elaborate meal ideas, of course, and to be honest, during the past two years of living through a pandemic, making creative inspiring meals is not something I’ve found myself doing. Instead, it seems to be an endless ongoing question in our house of “What will we have for breakfast / lunch / dinner?” three times a day, every day!




To try and mitigate this, I challenge myself with meal planning–which tends to include some new recipes from the many cookbooks I have–but I also keep coming back to the basic concept of a “Nourish Bowl.” This is the kind of cooking that simply requires assembling a handful of different ingredients. 


To create a Nourish Bowl, you can use your mindfulness and mindful eating practice by asking yourself some guiding, self-exploratory questions.


  • What do I feel like eating right now?

  • What temperature? Hot / Cold / Room Temperature

  • What textures? Soft / Crunchy / Smooth / Hard / Crispy / Chewy

  • What flavors? Sweet / Sour / Salty / Umami / Acidic


For our Nourish Bowl we will use a combination of these answers and in the “recipe,” I will give you some suggestions for what to pick from each of these to make a bowl that fits your specific taste preferences. Making a Nourish Bowl is more like a concept than a true recipe because there are no hard and fast rules, only specific guidelines and ideas to inspire you.


You can make Nourish Bowls as lunch or as a lighter evening meal or why not as a savory breakfast option?



HOW TO MAKE A NOURISH BOWL

Serves 1-2 depending on volume


The bowl is made up of several components: greens, grains, vegetables (raw or cooked), extra protein, salty or tangy toppings, crunch and a dressing. It will also contain all of the macro nutrients to make a balanced meal. Think of these as guidelines, rather than rules, and let your own creativity and curiosity guide you to figure out what kinds of combinations entice your taste buds.


To assemble:


Greens: Add approx. 1 or 2 cups of mixed green leaves. These could be any type of salad leaves, or other greens like kale or spinach. If you are looking for extra crunch, use little gem lettuce or iceberg lettuce. You can also add as many chopped herbs as you like for a different flavor. Mint, coriander (cilantro), parsley, oregano, marjoram, or chives work well. Use what you have on hand.


Grains: Cooked grains such as whole spelt grains, whole oat groats, buckwheat, millet, quinoa or brown rice makes a Nourish Bowl turn into a more substantial meal. You want to cook the grains of choice according to instructions on the package first, then let them cool before adding them into your bowl. Use 1-2 cups of grains per person.


Colorful Vegetables:  Add more raw, finely grated vegetables such as beetroot, fennel, carrots, green beans, red or white cabbage, or other root vegetables like carrot, celeriac or turnip. Fresh tomatoes and cucumbers are nice too, of course.

If you have leftover roasted vegetables, like sweet potato, beetroot or any other root veg, these will make another nice addition. If you prefer steamed vegetables, broccoli, green beans or cauliflower might tickle your fancy. Aim for 2-3 different ones.


Fats: Top with one or more of these:

  • Nuts or seeds (toasted makes for even more flavor)

  • Avocado, chopped or sliced

  • Olives 

  • Sundried tomatoes, chopped



Protein – Choose one

  • Tinned (drained) tuna or salmon

  • Cooked chicken/turkey/beef/ham (excellent use of leftovers from a roast dinner)

  • Smoked salmon or mackerel

  • Cooked beans or lentils (pre-marinated ones, if you can buy them)

  • Poached or boiled egg

  • Feta cheese or goat cheese, crumbled 

  • Hard cheese, cubed

  • Hummus


Optional extras: Add sauerkraut or kimchi for some sourness or if you want to add some sweetness instead, fresh fruit like pear, grapes, apple or pineapple might work. Otherwise, sultanas, raisins or dried cranberries might be an idea.


Assembly tips: Mix all vegetables plus grains with your salad dressing of choice. Add your protein and fat and any other extra toppings you desire. Tuck in and enjoy!


A few things to note: If you are planning on bringing your Nourish Bowl with you somewhere, I would either bring the dressing on the side or mix it in with the grains and veggies and keep the green salad leaves separate until eating so that they don’t wilt. Any cooked grains will keep for a few days in the fridge too.


For further inspiration, I am giving you a simple salad dressing and a recipe for tamari toasted seeds, which make excellent toppings or as a snack all on their own.


Simple lemon & ginger dressing

3 tbsp good quality olive oil

½ tbsp lemon juice

Zest of half a lemon

1 inch peeled ginger root, finely grated

Mix all the ingredients together. Give them a good whisk or shake to make sure they’re well-blended. Pour some over your choice of vegetables. This works with warm vegetables as well as cold ones. 



Toasty Seed Snack

Seeds are an excellent source of minerals such as zinc and magnesium. Both are important for immune health and energy. They are high in fat but contain good levels of essential fatty acids that we need for good memory, concentration, immunity and skin health. Just remember that a little goes a long way!

10 servings

3 tbsp pumpkin seeds

3 tbsp sunflower seeds

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp linseeds (flax seeds)

1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (Use less if using soy sauce as it tends to be saltier.)


Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 170°C/Gas 3½. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. In a bowl, toss all the seeds with the tamari or soy sauce so they are well coated. Scatter the seeds on the lined baking tray. Toast in the oven for 15 minutes, shaking the tray or stirring the seeds well a couple of times during cooking. Add to your favorite salads for some extra crunch or eat a tbsp on its own as a snack. 





Linn Thorstensson, Dip NT mNTOI, is a registered Nutritional Therapist, based in Co.Cork Ireland, with a special focus on helping people heal their relationship with food and eating, through a mindful eating and self-compassionate approach. She is also a food blogger, recipe developer and photographer and a meditator. Linn holds a three year PGDip in Nutritional Therapy, certifications in mind-body medicine and Mindful Eating (MB-EAT).

She is one of three directors for the board of Nutritional Therapists of Ireland and is excited to be part of the continuing growth of The Centre for Mindful Eating.

When she is not found reading, writing or in clinic, she tries spending most of her time in nature, with her dogs, with friends and in deep conversations.

You will find more about her, her work and her personal path over on www.straightforwardnutrition.com