These colorful, family-friendly Sweet Pea Bowls are a snap to prepare, thanks to a few clever tips that will change your weeknight meal routine.
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Sometimes when people see my blog, they wonder (and ask!) how I stay healthy while making so many desserts. The answer is super simple: I don’t like rich foods—except in dessert form. For mains, I like fresh ingredients and bright flavors in dishes that come together quickly and easily.
I wasn’t always like that. Before we had a baby, I’d spend so much time cooking and trying different recipes. We’d rarely eat the same thing twice! After the baby arrived, though, everything changed. Time was sparse, which forced me to prioritize. I wanted to spend the little time I had in the kitchen on what I loved making the most: desserts. Plus, as my son grew older, I cared more and more about what I served him and did my best to assemble balanced meals. Though my son has always LOVED fruits and veggies passionately, I still had to navigate his toddler whims to avoid becoming a short-order cook (and lose my mind) at every meal.
I started to gather, in a single spot, recipes that both my son enjoys and we adults enjoy eating. First, it was just a list on the fridge, then it became a folder, and now I’m considering turning it into a binder. All the recipes I collect in there are quick and easy, with some components that can be prepped in advance, so I only need to do minimal prep and assembly when I come back from picking my son up from school. This collection of recipes has often “saved” us from ordering takeout—not that there’s anything wrong with ordering takeout. Still, I prefer saving it for special occasions, not reaching for that solution several times a week because I didn’t plan.
Because I’m always searching for new recipes to add to our favorites folder, I’ve also been expanding my collection of weeknight-themed and family-friendly cookbooks. There have been so many great books published in those categories lately, but my current favorite is Nicki Sizemore’s “Build-a-Bowl: 77 Satisfying & Nutritious Combos: Whole Grain + Vegetable + Protein + Sauce = Meal.”
Don’t you understand how clever the book is, just by reading its title? I’m a HUGE fan of formulas because they allow you to get inspired yet leave you some freedom to riff on a recipe depending on what’s in your fridge. Let me tell you: if you’ve been in a bind coming up with new ideas for weeknight meals, the Nicki’s Build-a-Bowl formulas will fire your inspiration right back up.
Like me, my friend Nicki is a mom who cares about what she serves her family. She came up with the idea for her book because—surprise, surprise—she was rushed for time, yet didn’t want to give up the pleasure of eating good food every night. (Clearly, she wrote that book for me. And you. And you, too!) Her trick to making bowls interesting is to pack in textures and flavors.
Here’s how her bowls are typically composed:
Build-a-Bowl is then divided into themed chapters, according to the recipes’ main ingredients: from easy, fruit-based bowls you’ll love to serve for breakfast, to more luxurious seafood-based meals, there’s something for everyone. The recipes are simple to execute, many feature make-ahead instructions and lots include substitution ideas (such as alternate sauces you can try) so you’ll get extraordinary mileage from the book.
But what I love best about the “bowl philosophy” is that I think it’s the most family-friendly way to serve dinner ever. Indeed, you can lay out the different components in separate bowls in the center of the table and let each person assemble their serving to their liking. Kids love to have control over what they eat. If you only put nutritious things in front of them, they’ll inevitably eat a nutritious meal. Bowls are also great for toddlers and young kids who like to see ingredients separate on their plates. You can take a few minutes to assemble pretty bowls for grown-ups and serve the components in separate mounds on your little ones’ plates. Everybody wins!
I’ve made many recipes from Nicki Sizemore’s Build-a-Bowl, but today I’d like to share our favorite so far: these Sweet Pea Bowls with Soft-Boiled Eggs and Pea Pesto. I’ve long made a habit of boiling eggs on Sundays to turn them into instant snacks or meals during the week, so the “Eggs” chapter in Build-a-Bowl appealed to me immediately. This recipe just gathered so many of my family’s favorite ingredients in a single bowl, I could not pass it up.
Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.
Recipe adapted and shared with permission from the author, Nicki Sizemore. I received a complimentary copy of Build-a-Bowl for review purposes. All opinions are my own. For more information, please review my disclosure policy.
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