This is the perfect time of year to get out of the takeout funk and into the sweet arms of a home-cooked meal. Plus, who doesn’t love throwing together a cozy and balanced bowl after a long day of work? Sounds ideal to us. We decided to seek out the help of an ~expert~, so we spoke with sweetgreen’s chief research and development chef, Katelyn Nolan Shannon, about the best tactics for getting your healthy and homemade bowl just right this fall.
First thing’s first, y’all. You gotta get your greens and grains perfectly proportionate to one another. “Greens [and] grains act as your base and the ratio of the two can make or break your bowl! A good rule of thumb is to aim for a half a cup of grains to 2/3 cup of greens,” Katelyn explained. “This is a good balance that won’t feel too heavy and still allows room for protein, veggies and other delicious toppings.”
As far as what types of greens to go with, it’s all about how wet you like your leaves — but no matter what, you’ve gotta keep it moderately dry. “It’s best to use hearty greens like kale or spinach, which won’t wilt once mixed with the warm grains. If you do like a little bit of wilt a good option is something like arugula or swiss chard,” she continued. “Romaine and other moisture-locking greens should be avoided since they will water down the whole bowl.”
So, what really makes a good DIY bowl the perfect fall flave? “The variety of warm to cold ingredients is another reason bowls are so dynamic and crave-able,” the chef dished. “I usually like to keep my protein warm (blackened chicken thighs, roasted tofu or steelhead trout) and then do a mixture of warm and cold veggies (think roasted sweet potatoes with raw shredded carrots).”
Another thing that really adds a spark is a little texture when it comes to your add-ins. “Ingredients that add texture to the bowl are what keep it from becoming boring! Add crunchy nuts like chopped almonds or walnuts, sprinkle on some black and white sesame seeds for some pop and throw in a creamy avocado,” Katelyn explained. “A variance of textures keeps every bite interesting.”
One of the finishing touches is, of course, dressing — but for an even coat, you might want to stick to one type more than others. “Vinaigrettes and oil-based dressings work best to coat each ingredient whereas creamy dressings tend to stick to the grains and don’t dress the bowl in its entirety,” the foodie Instagrammer said, while adding that a few good toppings after your dressing layer can kick things up a notch.
“Fresh herbs, citrus zest, flaky sea salt, nuts and seeds and even a drizzle of hot sauce are some small finishing touches that can really elevate a bowl and make it extra special,” she concluded. Sounds like we’re prepared to make the best bowl the world has ever seen — watch out, chefs everywhere. We’re comin’ for ya!