Here’s how to build a better bowl

The recipes in this post were developed by Kate Sherwood, The Healthy Cook, and taste-tested in the Nutrition Action Test Kitchen. Have a comment, question, or idea? Email Kate at

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Making a big, beautiful, lick-your-fork-good bowl isn’t as hard as you may think. Here’s our basic formula, plus two go-to dressing recipes.

The Basic Formula

1-2 cups raw and/or cooked veggies
½ cup chicken, fish, tofu, or beans
2-3 cups salad greens
2-3 Tbs. dressing

Anytime extras: herbs, fresh fruit, whole grains, avocado, nuts, or seeds

Some-of-the-time extras: pickled veggies, egg, or cheese

In This Bowl

½ cup chopped roasted peppers
1 cup shredded carrot and cabbage
½ cup cooked lentils
3 cups salad greens
¼ cup mint and cilantro leaves
2 Tbs. roasted pumpkin seeds
¼ cup pickled red onion

Smoked Paprika Dressing

Makes 6 Tbs.

½ tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 Tbs. mayonnaise
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.

Per serving (bowl in photo with 3 Tbs. smoked paprika dressing):

  • Calories: 470
  • Total fat: 27 g
  • Sat fat: 4 g
  • Carbs: 44 g
  • Fiber: 15 g
  • Total sugar: 12 g
  • Added sugar: 1 g
  • Protein: 19 g
  • Sodium: 590 mg

Or try your bowl with Creamy Sesame Dressing:

Creamy Sesame Dressing

Makes about 12 Tbs.

¼ cup plain greek yogurt
2 Tbs. tahini
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. honey
1 clove minced garlic
½ tsp. kosher salt

In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.

Per serving (3 Tbs. dressing):

  • Calories: 90
  • Total fat: 6 g
  • Sat fat: 1 g
  • Carbs: 7 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Total sugar: 4 g
  • Added sugar: 3 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Sodium: 470 mg
Photo: Kate Sherwood & Jennifer Urban/CSPI.

The recipes in this post first appeared in the April 2018 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

Enjoy these recipes? 
Salad Days!—from Nutrition Action’s Healthy Cook, Kate Sherwood—will help you expand your repertoire with imaginative combinations of greens, vegetables, herbs, whole grains, and proteins. You’ll find healthy variations on classics like Chicken Caesar and Cobb, as well as more adventurous combos like Black Beans & Red Rice with Smoked Paprika Dressing and Sesame Shrimp with Caramelized Shallot Citrus Dressing.

Have a comment, question, or idea?
Send us an email at While we can’t respond to every email, we’ll be sure to read your message.

3 Replies to “Here’s how to build a better bowl”

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Each bowl is 1 serving. It is meant to be a full meal for one person.

      Happy cooking!

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