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Nutrition: Grab a Healthy Bowl

January 15, 2018

A new food trend offers more convenience

The next time you stop at your favorite fast-casual restaurant, do not be surprised to see a section dedicated to bowls. More and more eateries have been tweaking their menus to accommodate guests looking for a faster dining alternative. But even though these options may seem more appealing, the same healthy nutrition rules apply.

“Bowls are convenient, but not all of them are healthy,” says Mary Finckenor, registered dietitian for Morristown Medical Center. “There are acai bowls, burrito bowls, veggie bowls, rice bowls and others. Some are full of nutrition, and others aren’t.”

A Straightforward Choice

Picking a healthy bowl can be as simple as looking at the ingredients list. If the bowl is mostly fruits, vegetables or lean proteins, you’re probably in the clear. If you spot fried chicken, cheese and other fatty culprits, then you should be wary.

“Always do your research,” says Sabrina Lombardi, clinical nutrition coordinator of Food and Nutrition Services for Newton Medical Center. “If a restaurant offers the option of creating your own bowl, that’s even better; you can control what goes in it.”

The Best of Both Worlds

So why are bowls popping up everywhere? Convenience is one reason, notes Jane DeWitt, clinical nutrition coordinator of Food and Nutrition services for Hackettstown Medical Center. In an always-connected world, it can be difficult making time for yourself – including time to eat. A grab-and-go option that’s easy to take back to your desk is a natural result of hectic lifestyles.

“When you’re busy, you don’t want to waste time,” Finckenor says. Knowing that you can grab or create a healthy bowl and be on your way is just more appealing than sitting down and waiting for food. As long as you make the right choices, you can have the best of both worlds: convenience and nutrition.”

How to Build Your Own Bowl While Keeping Portions Intact

Start with your base, which will consist of your dark green, leafy vegetables. Then add a grain, if you like, such as quinoa (perhaps ¼ cup). Fruit and/or lean protein can then be added (such as 3 ounces of chicken or 1 hard-boiled egg). A healthier fat, such as avocado slices (¼ of an avocado) or a dressing (about 1 tablespoon) goes on top.

Courtesy of Christina Lavner, registered dietitian for Chilton Medical Center.