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Apparently “grain bowls” are a thing these days, but they’ve long been a part of my work-from-home-lunch repertoire.  It’s a good excuse to throw a bunch of leftovers in a bowl together and call it a meal.  You can mix and match, eat it hot or cold, and you don’t need a recipe.


Whenever I cook grains for a meal, I try to cook extra to have on hand later.  I’m a lot more likely to actually eat a proper lunch when I know at least part of it is already prepared.  Leftover meat or vegetables are easy to throw in with grains.  Layer in your favorite salad dressing and/or a dollop of hummus.  If you’re feeling fancy, use the back of a spoon or a flexible spatula to swipe a dip or puree around the edge of the bowl (pictured below).  Roasted nuts, fresh herbs, a sprinkle of flaky salt, or cracked pepper can all add a little something extra.  And when all else falls, put an egg on it!


If you’re nervous to get started making your own perfectly-Instagrammable grain bowls, I’ve put together some guidelines.  You don’t have to use all the categories, but it’s a place to start (and helps keep things balanced).  


Build your own grain bowl


Here are a few examples of grain bowls that I’ve shared:


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pearled barley

massaged kale

roasted turnips + sweet potatoes

roasted eggplant dip

roasted garlic + ginger dressing

A photo posted by Kenan Hill (@kenanhill) on

Brunch style:

stone ground grits

seared duck breast


cherries in balsamic reduction

shaved parmesan

A photo posted by Kenan Hill (@kenanhill) on

beluga lentils

grilled salmon


balsamic reduction

mint + oregano

A photo posted by Kenan Hill (@kenanhill) on

Cinco de Mayo style:

brown rice with green garlic


sautéed red + golden beets

fresh mint