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Nope, we’re not talking about the beautiful ceramics from Morocco or Vietri sul Mare. Today, we’re exploring the delicious Mediterranean foods served in bowls. Bowl meals are catching on in the US, with plenty of restaurants and healthy fast food outlets showcasing colorful bowls with grains and greens. However, for me, the most vivid example of a perfectly beautiful and delicious bowl happened in a restaurant in San Jose, Costa Rica.  

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In March, I spoke at a conference organized by Hannia Campos at Hispanoamericana University in San Jose, and before the conference, Walter and Gail Willett and I were taken to a nearby restaurant that served only bowls. The menu graphic was as wonderfully appealing as the bowls themselves (see right), and like the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid (in its 25th anniversary year), the menu acts as a guide and conveys the wonderful variety possible in each and every bowl.  

The menu defines all the choices possible. First, we had to decide about the base: grains (rice, quinoa, tortillas) and legumes (beans, lentils, or garbanzo beans). Next was a choice about whether to add red meat, chicken, falafel, or a vegetable special, followed by accompaniments (peppers, vegetables, salad) and a huge selection of extras (avocado, broccoli, cheese, and hummus, among others). The result was a bowl of personal favorites—fresh, delicious, healthy, and filling.

Truth be told—even though the restaurant was Costa Rican—the Bowl de mi Abuela was a wonderful representation of the Mediterranean Diet. What could be better and more Mediterranean Diet-like than a bowl of whole grains, beans, vegetables, spices, cheese, and some extras?  

Since my visit to San Jose, I’ve used this template for several dinner parties. It’s perfect for company, for families, and for children, since the bowls can be easily customized. The Mediterranean Bowl can please everyone from picky eaters to vegans and vegetarians to omnivores! If you’re not sure where to begin, try one of the flavor combinations listed below, or use them as a jumping-off point for your own creation:

Berry, Asparagus, Quinoa, and Feta Salad with Sweet Crispy Chickpeas

Bulgur Salad with Green Lentils and Walnuts

Orange and Cucumber Navy Bean Salad

Wheat Berry Salad with Blood Oranges, Feta, and Red Onion Vinaigrette

Wild Rice and Lentil Salad

Sara Baer-Sinnott, Oldways President


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