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October Fitness Tips

Michelle Walker, the Recreational Specialist at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., poses for her photo in the base gym on November 2, 2011.  Michelle was hired to work at the base gym to train, educate and encourage McEntire’s airmen to remain “fit to fight” and excel in the new Air Force fitness standards. 
(SCANG photo by TSgt Caycee Cook)

Michelle Walker, the Recreational Specialist at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., poses for her photo in the base gym on November 2, 2011. Michelle was hired to work at the base gym to train, educate and encourage McEntire’s airmen to remain “fit to fight” and excel in the new Air Force fitness standards. (SCANG photo by TSgt Caycee Cook)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

How to Make Easy Healthy Grain Bowls

Healthy Grain Bowls are an easy, and delicious complete meal. Simply mix and match your favorite components… in 5 steps.

Grain bowls are simply dinner in a bowl. And it’s as easy as a simple 5-step process, beginning with a grain, adding protein and veggies, making a sauce and garnishing with a few more goodies.

Start with a base.

The base, while traditionally a carbohydrate like rice, could really be any type of grain or fiber-rich food. Choose one of the following:

  • Farro
  • Quinoa
  • White rice
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal
  • Soba or rice noodles
  • Cauliflower rice

Choose a protein.

Protein is arguably the star of a grain bowl, so use top-quality ingredients. Choose one of the following:

  • Seared steak
  • Grilled chicken breast
  • Steamed Shrimp
  • Flaked fish
  • Smoked duck
  • Glazed salmon
  • Marinated tofu
  • Sliced Tempeh
  • Fried, poached or soft-boiled eggs

Next, make a sauce.

Sauce is key to a grain bowl, since it adds a blast of flavor and helps tie all the ingredients together. For instance, you might use a soy-based sauce to build an Asian-inspired bowl, or a pesto if the meal is based on Italian ingredients. Choose one of the following, or create your own sauce!

Don’t forget the vegetables.

Grain bowls are a definite part of the current wellness trend, so to stay along those healthy lines, be sure to fill up on vegetables.  Add spiralized vegetables, which are a pretty way to add extra servings of veg with minimal prep time. Pick as many of the following as you’d like:

  • Sliced avocado
  • Halved cherry tomatoes
  • Roasted, steamed or sautéed kale
  • Cooked spinach
  • Charred eggplant
  • Grilled corn
  • Blanched green beans
  • Diced red onions
  • Roasted chicories or root vegetables
  • Shredded carrots, cabbage or broccoli
  • Pickled cucumbers, onions or cauliflower
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Cabbage or daikon kimchi
  • Spiralized carrots, beets or zucchini

Top it all off!

Toppings serve multiple purposes: In many cases, they add a punch of flavor or texture (or both), plus they make for an aesthetically pleasing garnish. When selecting your toppings, aim for a balance of crunchy toppings and soft toppings. Choose a couple of the following:

  • Black or white sesame seeds
  • Thinly-sliced scallions
  • Chopped fresh herbs like mint or cilantro
  • Microgreens
  • Fried shallots
  • Crumbled feta, shaved parmesan, or goat cheese chunks
  • Chopped pistachios or walnuts
  • Olives
  • Crispy chickpeas

Before you get started, here are two more things to keep in mind:

Make Ahead Tips

Prepping ahead will make your life so much easier. One-bowl meals are meal prep-friendly options. At the beginning of the week, make a big batch of grains to use all week, grill meat, and make sauces, mixing them separately so they’re easily packable and portable for lunch. Many of these can be used for a variety of dishes (and also happen to last as long as up to a week in the fridge.)