If you’re like me (don’t deny it tubby) then you’d probably like to lose a few pounds. But if you’re also like me, you’re not reeeaaally looking to change much to do it. No life-altering diet changes, no cutting out your favorite foods and drinks, but if there’s a healthy option that’s still delicious – then sure!
Meet the Macro Bowl – the healthy way to portion out a meal to ensure you’re doing something good for your body. The best part is that building a macro bowl makes it really easy to also build some serious flavor!
But what is a macro bowl, and why do you care? The textbook definition is a meal that contains a specific ratio of proteins to fats to carbs. What that ratio should be depends on a variety of factors including your specific health goals, body type, age, etc, but a typical breakdown is something like 40-50% carbs, 25-35% (healthy!) fats and 25-35% protein.
But textbooks aren’t delicious, or even edible, and it’s in practice that this meal really shines. To hit the optimal ratio, try breaking your bowl down into a few sections: a whole grain base, raw or cooked veggies, some healthy fats like avocados or cheese and a protein to be your centerpiece. If you really want to amp up the healthfulness, add a fermented topping like kimchi, yogurt or pickled pretty much anything.
The best part of this method is that you can pretty much take any cuisine and import it into your macro bowl format. For my money, I find that (pan-)Asian and Mexican cuisines tend to be the easiest, since they’re often rice-based to begin with, but really anything from Afghani all the way to Zimbabwean (yep I looked it up) foods can easily be made into a macro bowl.
I recently made a pretty awesome macro-bowl-inspired dish that I wanted to share with you guys. This dish was made up of brown rice (whole grain), carrots, asparagus broccoli (veggies), pickled shiitakes (fermented) and baked salmon (high-quality protein and healthy fat), with a miso-citrus dressing (fermented icing on the cake!).
Everything about the dish felt fresh, light while still filling and absolutely PACKED with flavor. The baked salmon gives it a rich quality alongside the miso-citrus dressing for brightness and umami. The vegetables and rice are reliably good, but the real star of the show were these marinated shiitake mushrooms. I found myself hunting around the bowl just to find more of these bad boys, they were just stupid tasty.
While you can play around with the various components of your macro bowl, I’d recommend finding a way to work these pickled shiitakes in.
They’re. just. that. GLORIOUS!
Hell, I’ll probably start putting them into my coffee in the mornings. Here’s how you can make them your own:
- 4 cups dried shiitake mushrooms (about 1⁄3 oz.), stemmed
- 1 cup soy sauce (light or dark depending on taste preference)
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 2 3″ pieces fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into big strips
Use dried shiitakes instead of fresh since you’ll be rehydrating them anyway and you’re not made of money. Steep the mushrooms in five cups of boiling water and steep for 15 minutes like you’re making some gross tea. Strain them out reserving two cups of liquid for later.
Next combine mushrooms, reserved liquid and everything else into a pot. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Once that’s done, take it off the heat and let it cool. Transfer everything into a reasonably air-tight container, or you can use a mason jar if you’re a hip Brooklynite like me.
At the end of the day, macro bowls aren’t going to help you dramatically cut weight, get ripped or develop that six-pack you feel like you’re on the verge of having if you just didn’t eat Chipotle for lunch and drink a few beers every night…. *heavy sigh*
BUT what it will do is help you to healthfully portion out meals with an eye towards balancing your diet. You’ll likely feel better, full but not overly so, and with plenty of sustainable energy for some extra pushups…or fuck it let’s go get burritos!
Not Chef Jared