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A Bodhi Bowl sits displayed on a table at Streetcar 520.

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Eating breakfast from a bowl is nothing new, but enjoying a lunch or dinner entrée from one once would have drawn looks. Not anymore.

When it comes to creating food bowls, the sky’s the limit. And they are simple to make. All you need is a base (usually a grain or pasta), vegetable toppings, a protein (plant- or animal-based), and seasonings or a dressing. The result is a meal that’s a much healthier option than high-fat, high-carb fare or takeout.

Chef Ketil Larsen created a unique “bowl” at his eatery.

“When I was developing the menu for Streetcar520, we wanted to offer healthy dishes with a global flair,” said Larsen, head of the culinary team. “I came up with the Bodhi Bowl, which is a take on bodhisattva — someone who is practicing the way of life of a Buddha.”

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The dish is a colorful and beautifully arranged bowl of quinoa, black beans, edamame, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, bell peppers, avocado and toasted cashews set off with a drizzle of bright yellow turmeric-tahini dressing. It’s so delicious you won’t realize or care how healthy it is for you.

Head to the new Sprig on the north side and you’ll be in bowl heaven. It has four breakfast bowls, four “nourish bowls” and four smoothie bowls, which are smoothie ingredients eaten with a spoon instead of blended into a drink. The Broadmoor’s Golden Bee boasts its own Buddha Bowl, and the hotel’s Natural Epicurean has a couple of bowl options as well.

Eating nutritiously is one of the driving forces behind the bowl movement. Nissa Wecks, owner of Ola Juice Bar, has noticed they are popping up on more menus. She thinks they might inspire people to make better food choices. Plus, with more people following restrictive diets, bowls make a lot of sense.

“I think people are becoming more aware and educated about how the food we eat affects many aspects of our lives, including energy, mental clarity, stress and recovery from athletic endeavors, illnesses or other trauma,” Wecks said. “Basically, healthy food helps us feel better, more energized, more focused and alert. Sugary, processed and greasy foods have the opposite effect.”

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You can get a BYO Rice Bowl at Ola. Diners choose a house-made sauce or dressing and five items to go on organic, short-grain brown rice.

Evelyn Steel, owner of Nourish Organic Juice, includes a Nourish Noodle Bowl on her menu, which can be prepared hot or cold.

“Bowls are becoming so popular because they have such a variety of flavors and textures in a convenient bowl,” she said. “They are usually very visually appealing and fun because you can put so many different options in them. They are usually full of healthy items, but they are also usually very satisfying. If you have a good sauce like the ones we make at Nourish, you can make your own bowls with what you like and it will always taste delicious.”

The sauces that Steel makes are Green Goodness, Cashew Ranch, Lemon Tahini and Asian Sesame.

“They are all vegan as well,” she said. “We sell these by the bottle or in small cups.”

And “healthy” doesn’t have to mean vegetarian.

“Customers ask for a protein on the Bodhi Bowl all the time,” Larsen said. “They can get tuna, chicken or steak.”

While the Bodhi Bowl is one of the more popular items on the Streetcar520 menu, a close second is the Ahi Poke Bowl. For that, Larsen artfully tops chilled rice noodles with raw tuna, cucumbers, radishes, edamame, carrots, bonito flakes and avocado. His sesame-ginger-soy dressing brings the dish together for an amazing flavor bomb.

Food bowls are only limited by your imagination. But if you need help, we have recipes. It’s a perfect way to use up leftovers. Or make a big batch of grains and beans to have ready in the fridge for quick meals — lunch, dinner or even breakfast.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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