Many cookbooks that cross my desk contain fabulous recipes that use healthy, mouth-watering ingredients, and I enjoy finding new dishes to make for my family and friends from them. Not many of them make me think differently about how to create meals.

The newly published vegan cookbook “Bowls!” by Becky Striepe not only has recipes that use healthy, mouthwatering ingredients, but it offers a fresh idea about how to create meals. That fresh idea is to build a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner by layering complementary ingredients for a nutritionally complete meal into individual bowls.

For Striepe, creating meals in a bowl was born out of her need to get healthy meals on the table quickly for her family. When it was dinnertime, and she hadn’t planned out a meal, she took to raiding her fridge and pantry for things she could “cobble together” in a bowl. She’d start with a base of grains, noodles, potatoes or salad greens and build her way up to a nutritionally balanced meal by adding a layer of vegetables, then a layer of protein, and finally a layer of add-ons like sauces.

“Bowls!” has recipes for 18 complete meals in bowls along with additional recipes for various sauces and other components of the layers. With these additional recipes, readers can build their own bowl combinations after learning Striepe’s method for creating a quick, easy, delicious meal.

Cheesy Stovetop Grits from Bowls cookbookCheesy Stovetop Grits (pictured at right) is an example of the type of recipe found in the cookbook. Here's how to make it:

Ingredients for 2 servings

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • enough water and grits to make 2 servings, according to package directions
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar diced tomato
  • diced scallions
  • 1 batch vegan bacon (Striepe has a vegan bacon recipe in the book, or you an use a store-bought version)
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil on medium high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until it starts to turn golden brown.
  2. Add the water, and bring to a boil, then toss in the grits, nutritional yeast, and vinegar. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the grits are done, adding water by the tablespoon if the grits get too thick too fast. How long this takes and how much water you need depends on the grits you’re using.
  3. Top with your vegan bacon and a little diced tomato and scallion.
  4. If you’re unfamiliar with vegan cooking and wondering where the cheese or the protein is in this recipe, nutritional yeast is a complete protein and it has a nutty, cheesy flavor.
A print version of “Bowls!” is available for $14.99 shipped (and comes with a complimentary ebook version, or the ebook alone is $9.99.

Disclaimer: I received a sample copy of “Bowls!” for review purposes, but I was not monetarily compensated by the book's author or the publisher for writing this post.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.