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How to Build a Better Bowl

How to Build a Better Bowl

The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.

Bowls are fast becoming a popular way to enjoy nutritious and delicious meals! What does a bowl-style meal look like? Think of a salad, only more nutritious and versatile. The sky’s the limit to the number of meals you can create using the bowl formula outlined below.

A nutritious bowl is one with plant-based, nutrient-rich foods as the base. These include green leafy vegetables, omega-3 fats, plant-based proteins, whole grains and functional foods like herbs and spices. If these foods sound familiar, it’s because they are the building blocks of the Fx™ Pillars created by our team of nutrition experts to help you follow this advice from Hippocrates: Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.

Veggie Buddha Bowl
Veggie Buddha Bowl by Sally Roeckell.

Have fun with this! Choose something from each of the categories and don’t be afraid to mix it up to keep each bowl-based meal exciting!

Pillar 1: Eat your greens, as many as you can every day.

Layer the bottom of your bowl with one or more of these alkalizing greens. Try them fresh, lightly steamed or sautéed.

  • Arugula
  • Dandelion greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Romaine
  • Spinach
  • Spring mix
  • Watercress

Rainbow Vegetables
Pillar 2: Eat the rainbow, at least one fruit and two vegetables every day.

Now it’s time to pile on one or more rainbow vegetables. If you’re doing it the Fx™ way, this should be your biggest portion. Roasted, raw, stir-fried or air-fried, these vegetables will fill your body with loads of important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage (Try red cabbage for a burst of color!)
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic, onions or leeks
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes

Sweet Potato Tahini Bowl
Sweet Potato Tahini Bowl by Julia Jolliff.

Pillar 4: Pick your protein: choose plants over fish over fowl over beef.

Next, add a few ounces of plant or animal-based protein to help balance blood sugar and keep you satisfied for hours.

Plant-Based Proteins

  • Beans
  • Edamame
  • Falafel (Save time with Fedora Famous Falafel Dough in the Frozen Department, or make your own from scratch!)
  • Lentils (A couple spoonfuls will do, or kick it up a notch with a slice of this meatless Red Lentil Loaf)
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts or seeds (Try a sprinkle of walnuts, almonds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground flax seeds or pumpkin seeds for extra omega-3 fats!)
  • Actual Veggies or NoBull plant based burgers
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu

Animal-Based Proteins

  • Omega-3 Rich Seafood* (Mackerel, salmon, tuna (fresh or Wild Planet canned). Try mixing canned seafood with a spoonful of Primal Kitchen avocado oil mayonnaise!)
  • Pasture-Raised Chicken (Pasturebird)
  • Pasture-Raised Egg (Heinen’s organic pasture-raised eggs)
  • Grass-Fed Beef* (Heinen’s or PRE Beef)

*These proteins double as an omega-3 fat and help you meet Pillar 3: Dose with omega-3 fats every day.

Tofu Bowl
Tofu Bowl

Whole Grains
Pillar 5: Choose whole grains, preferably sprouted.

If you’re looking for a little extra fiber and b-vitamins, a spoonful or two of one of these Fx-approved whole grains makes a nice addition to an already well-balanced bowl.

  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Brown rice
  • Farro
  • Heinen’s organic whole wheat pasta
  • Millet
  • Tru Roots sprouted quinoa
  • Wheatberries
  • Wild rice

For those watching their blood sugar, substitute any of these for the above grains.

  • Explore Cuisine bean pasta (Pasta Aisle): A high protein and fiber noodle that doubles as a plant-based protein!
  • Heinen’s riced cauliflower or broccoli (Frozen Department)
  • Zucchini or squash noodles (Produce Department)

Veggie and Farro Bowl
Veggie and Farro Bowl by Chef Billy Parisi.

Fun, Flavorful, and Functional Toppings

This is my favorite step in the bowl-building process because it’s a final opportunity to boost the nutrient density of the bowl before indulging. Make your creation count with a sprinkle or dash of one or more these toppings.

Rainbow Fruit
Pillar 2: Eat the rainbow, at least one fruit and two vegetables every day.

  • Chopped apples
  • Avocado slices
  • Berries: fresh blackberries blueberries, raspberries or strawberries
  • Fresh figs
  • Goji berries
  • Chopped pears

Functional Foods
Pillar 6: Remember functional foods: fresh herbs and fermented foods.

  • Broccoli sprouts or sprouted legume mix (Produce Department)
  • Fresh or dried herbs and spices (Basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.)
  • Fermented vegetables (Cleveland Kitchen sauerkraut or Wake Robin fermented pickles, carrots or beets)
  • Mushrooms (Sautéed Phillips Mushroom Farms Organic Gourmet Blend Mushrooms)
  • Bragg nutritional yeast
  • SeaSnax (Roasted seaweed that’s been described as “strangely addicting.”)

Additional Crunchy Toppings

  • Brad’s kale chips
  • Biena crunchy chickpeas
  • Crushed tortilla chips (Xochitl or Siete)
  • Go Raw sprouted pumpkin or sunflower seeds


Sauces and dressings are like the whipped cream and cherry on top of a sundae, only better. They add moisture, flavor and a little extra pizazz to your newly created masterpiece. Here are some of my favorite Fx-approved sauces, dressings and dips to top off a bowl.

  • Bragg ginger and sesame dressing
  • Heinen’s extra virgin olive oil
  • Heinen’s balsamic vinegar (in the tap)
  • Hummus Goodness hummus
  • Hot sauce
  • Homemade pesto sauce
  • Primal Kitchen buffalo sauce
  • Primal Kitchen ranch, green goddess or honey mustard dressing
  • SoCo or Heinen’s Tahini (This recipe for homemade tahini dressing will not disappoint!)
  • Sriracha
  • Wholly guacamole

Key Takeaway

Deciding what to make for dinner can be frustrating, especially when you aren’t in the habit of meal planning. The great thing about bowl-style meals is they can be created with ingredients you have on-hand in your kitchen. So even if you don’t meal plan, you can still enjoy a different nutritious and delicious meal practically every day of the week. The possibilities truly are endless!

Click Here for a Printable Guide on How to Build a Better Bowl.

Melanie Jatsek RD, LD

By Melanie Jatsek RD, LD

Heinen's Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek, RD, LD believes that the answer to a strong, healthy and vibrant body lies within. As a published author with over 20 years of experience in wellness program development, health coaching and professional speaking, Melanie offers expert guidance through Heinen's Club Fx program to help customers take inspired action to build the healthy body they were meant to live in without giving up their favorite foods.

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