gluten free · vegetarian · veggies

Grain Bowls


Remember the the shit storm known as 2017? Well, I’m pretty sure some of it trickled over into the new year. 2018 has been testing me. I was in Toronto for 3 weeks over the holidays and flew back to LA on the 4th. US customs was a nightmare and Air Canada lost our luggage. We came home to a bunch of bills that had been piling up and a kitchen sink that wasn’t draining. The next day our toilet gurgled and started baking up all sorts of black gunk into our tub. The next morning the toilet overflowed, and the tub kept backing up. On the bright side, our luggage is now safely with us, our kitchen sink is fixed and our bathroom is business as usual.

I really wanted to start 2018 off on a good foot. A new foot. A healthy foot! I went hard over the holidays. I ate all of my favourite things, drank all the beer and wine and barely even glanced at a vegetable. While all of this nonsense was happening I stuck to my January commitment of no booze, no dairy, no meat, no wheat, no sugar. Aren’t you proud of me? It’s only been a few days and boy did I feel like grabbing a glass of wine after the toilet fiasco, but I stayed strong! I also signed up for a 1 month unlimited yoga at Wanderlust, just down the street from me. I’m going today for my 3rd class in a row!

So how does someone like me, a staunch food/wine lover make a change that I can commit to? I cook! I get creative. I plan. Healthy food doesn’t mean boring food, bland, flavourless food. If anything, it inspires MORE flavour. In the past 4 days I’ve cooked enough to fill 8 food blogs but today I’ll start with one of my favourites. Grain bowls. Well, they’re more like grain plates, because I don’t have big enough bowls!

They’re simple, delicious and easily customizable. Pick your grain, pick your veg, pick your protein, pick your dressing, pick your garnish. What I like to do at the beginning of the week is roast a bunch of veg, make a batch of grains and then go from there. It’ll make assembling your bowls a lot easier.



Quinoa, roasted squash and charred tomato bowl with red wine vinaigrette

Serves 2


1 cup cooked quinoa (or grain of choice)
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 tsp curry powder
Glug of olive oil
large handful cherry or grape tomatoes
2 scallions
handful hazelnuts (or nut of choice)
2 eggs
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Big squeeze dijon mustard
2 cloves pressed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Cook your quinoa according to package. Usually you need to rinse it and for every 1 cup of dry quinoa, use one cup of water. Bring it to a boil, reduce to low, cover and let simmer for 15ish minutes. Let stand for another 10-15. Fluff with a fork and spread out on a baking sheet to cool evenly. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. (unless you want to eat some of it hot right away!)
  2. Roast your veg in a 400 oven. I used about half a butternut squash, peeled and cubed, tossed in a bit of curry powder and olive oil on a lined baking sheet. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes, flipping half way through.
  3. Make your vinaigrette. Combine the last 5 ingredients in a jar, give a good shake, taste, make adjustments if needed and set aside.
  4. In a dry cast iron pan, toast your hazelnuts over medium heat, moving the pan often so they don’t burn. About 4 minutes. Unless your hazelnuts are pre-roasted! Place hazelnuts in a bowl for later.
  5. In the same cast iron pan, over a medium high heat, char the tomatoes and scallions until the tomatoes start to split and get nice dark marks. Remove the scallions and give a rough chop.
  6. When all of the other ingredients are ready to go, fry up your sunny side eggs. I like to put a little splash of cold water in the pan once the eggs get going and then cover it to create a steam. This ensures the white will cook evenly and yolk will still be runny. They cook very quickly so make sure not to walk away from the kitchen.
  7. Assemble all of your ingredients, using the grains as a base, on your favourite plate or large bowl. Drizzle with the red wine vinaigrette and top with the runny egg and toasted nuts. Add salt and pepper if needed. Dig in!

Ooooo baby! What a satisfying meal. Filling and full of fun. The creamy yet sweet curry roasted butternut squash goes so nicely with the charred tangy tomatoes, the vinaigrette brings in a hit of acid, the nuts add a beautiful earthy crunch and the runny yolk brings the whole thing together. I liked it so much that I made a similar grain bowl the next day, with a slight makeover!


Quinoa, romaine, roasted squash and chickpea grain bowl


1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 butternut squash, skin on, cut in half lengthwise
1 cup cooked chickpeas
Leftover charred tomatoes
2 cups romaine lettuce, washed, dried and roughly chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 eggs
Red wine vinaigrette (leftover from the day before!)
squeeze of lemon
smoked salt and pepper


  1. You already have the quinoa cooked. Hooray!
  2. Roast your butternut squash. This time I kept the skin on and roasted it flesh side down on a lined baking sheet with a bit of olive oil in a 400 oven for about 45 minutes, or until tender. You can do this at the same time as you do the other variation of the squash the day before to save time if you want! Once it’s cooked, pull out of the oven and slice. The skin is edible.
  3. Prep your romaine.
  4. Open a can of chickpeas. (or cook them from scratch. I do this at the beginning of the week and make a big batch of hummus and keep some whole for salads. But canned works fine!)
  5. Fry your eggs. (or poach, or used hardboiled if you want.)
  6. Toss quinoa and romaine in large bowl with remainder of vinaigrette.
  7. Top romaine/quinoa salad with chickpeas, tomatoes, scallions, egg and squash. Add an extra squeeze of lemon juice and jazz it up with some smoked salt if you have it and a good hit of black pepper. Chili flakes would also be good. C’EST BON!

See how easy and yummy that was? And the possibilities are endless. You could toss in some avocado (which I wanted to do but the damn things weren’t ripe!) and any of your favourite roasted veggies. Bulgur, barley, buckwheat, brown rice or couscous could easily be subbed for quinoa. If you’re eating dairy, crumble some feta or goat cheese in there. If you’re eating meat, a nice piece of baked salmon or grilled chicken would be a delicious addition. Jazz it up with fresh herbs like parsley, chives or cilantro if that floats your boat. And experiment with different dressings! I like to make a big batch of classic red wine vinaigrette to have on hand because it goes with everything. Like a little black dress. But sometimes you want to wear a different dress, ya know?

Now that you have some guidelines, start trusting your gut and get experimental in the kitchen. Make the grain bowl of your dreams! Happy 2018 everyone!

Love, Julia






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