By Dawna Stone
Senior Vice President
Bowls are no longer for just soups or cereals. From smoothie bowls, to Hawaiian poke bowls, to noodle bowls, and every other variant in between, food bowls are all the rage. Even famous food chains like Taco Bell, KFC, and Chipotle Mexican Grill have food bowl options on their menus. This bold food idea is a great opportunity for people to eat on the go, whether it’s from a restaurant or from home.
A Bowl-ed Food Idea
Chicago’s American Egg Board calls the trend a “limitless opportunity” for chefs – the endless combinations and the interesting designs are a foodie’s dream come true. Ina Pinkney, the chef dubbed as the Breakfast Queen, thinks bowls are a “great customization format” people can utilize and enjoy.
“You get to build it,” Pinkney mentioned. “You get to eat it in layers, or you can kind of mix it all together.” This gastronomic innovation is practically infinite, as people who create food bowls can go as simple or as complex as they want. In this regard, the only limit is the person’s imagination.
One of the most creative food bowls around today comes from Olive Garden. Their Meatball Pizza Bowl features a bowl-shaped pizza dough, filled with meatballs, meat sauce, and melted Italian cheese. KFC created their Famous Bowl that combines, well, their most famous classics – mashed potatoes, chicken, and sweet corn, topped with gravy and a three-cheese blend.
Another interesting bowl style is the ones Chipotle and Taco Bell both offer. The Mexican cuisine-inspired fast food chains offer what are essentially open burritos, but instead of wrapping the ingredients, everything is in a convenient bowl. The best part for most customers is that the ingredients can be tailored specifically to what they want, so they can have as much or as little of a each item.
“Customization is key here,” said John Cook, executive chef with Chartwells at the University of Miami (UM). “If a student requests something special, it’s very easy to accommodate because the bowls are made as we go through service.” Even schools are getting in on the food bowl trend, with , Boston College, and even Greenville County Schools in South Carolina leading the ranks.
One of the biggest casual food trends is the poké bowl, a Hawaiian staple that is both tasty and healthy. Think of it as an open sushi roll, filled with chunks of raw fish over warm rice and topped with a bunch of other creative add-ons. Although brought into Hawaii as far back as the 1970s, this food trend is taking the culinary world by storm because of its convenience.
At home, people are always more in control of what goes in their food bowl. There are countless recipes available online, but companies like Healthy Choice and Evol are making things even easier for people who want to make a quick, simple and healthy food bowl at home.
Pre-made bowls help people enjoy the food bowl experience without worrying if they have the right ingredients or if they have the time to make them.
Healthy Choice’s chief executive officer (CEO) Sean Connolly discussed how the company is “reimagining breakfast” with their Power Bowls. “This is not a ham, egg and cheese on a bagel. These are really sophisticated, high-quality, super-healthy breakfast bowls all under 190 calories,” he said. “You can see the pesto and egg white scramble here. It’s a real incremental addition to the breakfast space.” In addition to their current line of food bowls, they will also introduce vegetarian versions within the year.
Evol, a brand under Pinnacle Foods, also discussed their “modern approach” to food bowls. “(They’re) packed with everything you need for a more customized diet,” says their CEO Mark A. Clouse. “Each bowl delivers a specific ingredient bundle to meet consumer needs, such as performance, energy, plant-based lifestyle or simply balanced nutrition.”
Other companies like Nona Lim and Grainful have created noodle bowls and grain bowls respectively. Their creations take the guesswork out of portion control, the gathering of certain rare ingredients, and of course, creativity. “Convenient, gourmet noodle bowls have been the number one customer request for years,” affirmed Nona Lim, founder of the eponymous food company. “Our products compare with grain-bowls from top fast-casual restaurants — layers of nutritious whole grains, fresh veggies, and flavorful sauces,” said Grainful’s president Jan Pajerski.
Reason to Get a Food Bowl
The food bowl trend can be enjoyed practically anywhere, for virtually any meal. It’s so flexible, people can create or buy a food bowl that suits their dietary preferences and their lifestyles. Here are just some of the reasons the food bowl trend has taken off:
- Nutritious – The current food bowl trend is focused on healthy and fresh ingredients making the bowls nutritionally benefitial, forming a delicious and balanced meal.
- Accessibility for healthy food – Food bowls are the healthier alternative to high-fat, high-carb meals. Additionally, they’re portability makes them easy to take to work or school.
- Customizable – Food bowls are easy to customize, so people on different diets (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, low-carb, paleo, etc.) can enjoy the ingredients they like.
- Easy – Food bowls are easy to make and with more and more companies jumping on the food bowl trend, they are extremely accessible.
- Simple – Buying pre-made bowls or preparing a food bowl ahead of time makes things simpler. Fill reusable bowls with your favorite ingredients, stick them in the fridge, and take them out when you need them.
- Plenty of options – The options are endless! Choose a rice or noodle base, or a grain base like quinoa, teff or faro. You can even get creative with a yogurt or oatmeal base. Top with whatever unique combination of ingredients you want.
If you haven’t jumped on the food bowl bandwagon yet, you should give it a try. Stick with fresh and healthy ingredients and don’t be scared to get creative. These fast and convenient creations may just become your go-to meals.