How to make a lunch bowl (and info about carbs)

I love to make bowls of veggies and other stuff for lunch or dinner. I find that it’s a good way to cram those veggies in, and make it taste great. There’s a lot of freedom to use what’s seasonal too, so they can be made year round.

So how do you properly construct a bowl?

Well for those of you in the Toronto area who have been to the restaurant Fresh, they make a pretty mean bowl. My only criticism of theirs is that there are way too many grains and starches in them. I mean, it’s DELICIOUS – but if I ate one for lunch, I’d be asleep under my desk George Kostanza style by 230pm.

What to do? Well I say just adjust your ratio of veggies, protein, fats and carbs. 

As much as it’s tempting to eye it, now’s your time to bust out your measuring cup. My 1/2 cup is my best friend in the kitchen. Have your 1/2 cup in your hand? Great. Now that’s the serving size of grains/carbs you want.

It may not seem like a lot, but it’s enough for the average bear. But what if you aren’t the average bear, meaning you crush it at the gym a lot and need more energy to workout? Well if this is you, then up your intake. If you’re like me, the average desk worker who stays active but doesn’t necessarily powerlift, a 1/2 cup is plenty.

So what kind of carbs can you put in your bowl? Use rice, quinoa, sweet potato, squash, whatever you like.

Now on to the veg. Vegetables have carbs. GASP! I know. But don’t worry, there’s an easy way to keep you on track when it comes to carbs in veg. In general, veggies that grow above the ground are the ones you can go nuts on. They are lighter in carbs and I actually don’t really count them towards my carb count (mainly because I am not competing for anything so don’t really need to count everything that goes into my body). Think lettuce, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, you know the stuff you can see growing. No limit on those my friends – eat up! When it comes to veg that grows underground (like beets, potatoes, carrots) use a bit more sparingly. I mean, have them because they are amazing and nutritious, just have a less than you would those above the ground veggies.

Next step protein. A serving of protein is about the size of the palm of your hand. You can have more or less depending on what else you eat that day and what your goals are. But the palm of your hand is a good start. I like to either shred or chop my meat/protein very small so it looks like I have more in my bowl.

For good measure, add some fat to your bowl. My default is half of an avocado. You can always make your own dressing too, using olive oil. That counts as a good fat as well. Or you can top with some nuts. Get some fat on there, it’s so good and leaves you feeling nice and full.

Note that the guidelines given above are just that, a guideline. Getting to know your requirements for protein, fats and carbs is so individual. You need to factor in lifestyle and goals too. I could write forever on this, so I’ll most likely do another post on how to find out what your balance is. But the above is a good place to start if you are at a loss. Just track how you feel after you make adjustments to your diet!

So what does this all look like in the end?! Well, it can look something like this:


In this bowl, I have some salmon, roasted sweet potato (tossed with a bit of maple syrup before roasting), roasted broccoli, avocado and some kale and brussels sprouts salad I had in the fridge. I tossed it all with poppyseed dressing and some salt and pepper on top.

Get creative and make a bowl of your own! Use what you have in the fridge and see where it takes you!

Author: Jackie

Jackie is a certified holistic nutritionist (with the Alive Academy out of Richmond, B.C.) in her spare time. Full-time she works in an office (like many of you!) and is always looking for ways to make her busy life happy and healthy. She is a mom to 2 lovely daughters, and a wife to a picky-eater husband who always keeps her on her toes when she is creating healthy recipes.

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