by Carol Harrison

Make this hearty lentil-barley base and keep it on hand for a head start on a quick and satisfying Buddha bowl you can enjoy with an Asian, Mexican or Middle Eastern twist. This mix and match guide makes it easy to fill half your bowl with vegetables.

Follow our 3 simple steps:

Step 1 Prepare the lentil-barley base and add to bowl(s).

Step 2 Choose a flavour inspiration. Build your bowl. Add two vegetables (or more!) and a hunger-curbing protein add-on.

Step 3 Make and add the dressing and any garnish.


Balance your Buddha bowl: ¼ grains, ¼ protein, ½ vegetables/fruit and 1-2 tbsp dressing.

Layer up the ingredients in a mason jar and take it on the go. Start with the dressing on the bottom. Give it a shake before eating to mix the dressing throughout.

Make your Lentil-barley base

Option 1: Use canned lentils and leftover barley (as show in photo).

Option 2:  Cook lentils and barley together in a pot on the stove.

Rinse 1 cup  lentils and 1 cup barley. In a large pot, combine 8 cups water, lentils and barley. Bring to a boil. Cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender, about 20 minutes (check last 5 minutes for doneness to avoid overcooked/split lentils). Drain and rinse in cold water to cool completely. Set aside.

TIP: You can store this salad base in a covered container in the fridge for 5 days or freeze a portion of it for a month.

Build your bowl!

Asian Inspired

Veggie options: cucumber ribbons, steamed red or nappa cabbage, blanched or roasted asparagus, steamed bok choy, bean sprouts, snow peas.

Protein add-on options: edamame, cooked mung beans, fried or steamed fish, BBQ pork, duck, tofu, grilled chicken.
Garnish options: sliced green onions, peanuts, sriracha or garlic chili paste, toasted sesame seeds.


Whisk together in bowl/jar: 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp EACH soy sauce and rice vinegar and 2 green onions, thinly sliced.  Tip: This can be doubled. It will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Give a good shake before using.  Add 1/2 tsp of sriracha if you wish to add some heat.

Mexican Inspired

Veggie options: chopped tomatoes, baby kale, avocado, corn, sautéed or roasted peppers, sautéed or roasted carrots, fresh or pickled jalapeños.

Protein add-on options: grilled chicken, roast pork, tofu, cooked shrimp.

Garnish options: cilantro, queso fresco (easy alternate: crumble dry cottage cheese), thinly sliced red onion, few tortilla chips.

Dressing: Whisk together in bowl/jar: 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 tbsp salsa, 1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro, 1/4 tsp EACH salt and pepper and 2 tbsp red wine vinegar. Tip: You can double this too. This is also good drizzled in a burrito.

Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Inspired

Veggie/fruit options: cooked or raw thinly sliced zucchini, carrot ribbons, roasted red peppers, artichoke, roasted or grated raw beets, sliced cucumber, baby spinach, pomegranate seeds.

Protein add-on options: falafel, hummus, grilled or roasted chicken, tofu, leftover sliced up steak.

Garnish options: crumbled feta or goat cheese or a drizzle of tangy yogurt, roasted chickpeas, sliced radishes, dollop of labneh with fresh mint on top or pinch of za’atar.

Dressing: Whisk together in bowl/jar: 1/4 cup canola oil, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp of dried or 1 tbsp minced fresh mint, 2 cloves garlic, minced and 1 tsp lemon rind, minced. Tip: For a creamy dressing, stir in a spoonful of hummus. You can double this.

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