How to Make a Macro Bowl – The Perfect Balance Bowl
Learn what is a macro bowl, how to make a macro bowl without a recipe, and tips and tricks for meal prepping bowls each week!
We are all about balance around here and fueling our bodies with nutrient-dense foods so that we can not only look our best but feel our best too.
And that means eating a variety of foods, but also making sure we aren’t missing out on a key part of why we love food — and that’s FLAVOR.
One of my favorite ways to create a completely balanced meal that is full of flavor is to create something called a Macro Bowl — or as we like to call it in the NOURISH. Course, a Balance Bowl.
But first what is a Macro Bowl?… and what are macros?
What are Macros?
Ok, before we get into what a macro bowl is we should probably talk about what a macro is first.
The word “macros” is thrown around a lot these days on Instagram, but I still have so many women asking me…what the heck are macros?
Macros are short for the word macronutrients.
And macronutrients refer to protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
They are called macro because they are the nutrients that our bodies need in large amounts — compared to micronutrients which our body needs in much smaller amounts.
They are simply called “macros” for short in the health and wellness space.
What is a Macro Bowl
So a “Macro Bowl” therefore is a bowl that contains all of these macronutrients…not to mention a ton of those important micronutrients as well.
But in order to make a macro bowl you must have all three macros for a completely balanced meal.
And the best part of macro bowls — or as I like to call them in NOURISH., Balance Bowls — is that they can literally be made with ANYTHING.
All you need to do is load them up with nourishing ingredients from all three macronutrient categories, load up on veggies, and flavor it up.
I will teach you exactly how to make a macro bowl without ever using a recipe AND give you my all time favorite combination.
PLUS, as a little bonus, I created a simple printable for you that you can use to make your own Balance Bowls at home.
5 Steps for Making a Healthy Macro Bowl
Like I said, the best thing about Balance Bowls is that the combinations and flavors endless.
You can pretty much choose whatever you have in the fridge and create an amazing and mouth-watering bowl in just minutes with this formula.
Here is what you will need, and how to create a Macro Bowl of your own.
Pile in the Vegetables or Non-Starchy Carbs
Start with a big pile of non-starchy vegetables to add tons of nutrients, vitamins and minerals to your meal. These non-starchy carbohydrates will also supply your body with plenty of slow burning fuel to give you energy all day long.
Adding nutrient-dense veggies will add bulk to your meal without increasing calories.
Vegetable Ideas for Balance Bowls:
- Leafy greens – such as kale, spinach, salad greens, microgreens
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
- Squash: zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, acorn squash
- Others: Bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, eggplant, green beans, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, yellow, white, and red onions
Add a scoop of Whole Grains or Starchy Carbs
Starchy Carbohydrates from whole grains and certain vegetables will give you a quick boost of energy and help you feel and perform your best through out the day.
Feel free to group fruits into this section as well — fruit can be a HUGE way to enhance flavor and antioxidants!
Starchy Carbs + Grains to use in your bowl:
- Grains – brown rice, quinoa, farro, freekeh, buckwheat, barley, millet
- Starchy Veggies – potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas
- Fruits – grapes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, mango
JUST A NOTE – YOU MIGHT ALSO SEE MACRO BOWLS CALLED A FEW OTHER NAMES AS WELL, SUCH AS…
Pick your Protein
Next choose a portion of lean protein. Proteins are the building blocks of the body, and so important for building not only lean muscle but also beautiful hair, skin, and nails.
Variety is key here so make sure you change it up frequently.
Seafood, poultry, lean beef and pork are all great options. And don’t forget there are plenty of vegetarian options too!
Protein Options for Macro Bowls
- Meaty + Poultry – Chicken or turkey breast or thighs, ground turkey or chicken, extra lean ground beef, lean cuts of beef like skirt steak, and lean pork like tenderloin
- Wild-Caught Fish + Seafood – salmon, cod, tuna, shrimp, crab, and scallops
- Vegan + Vegetarian options – edamame, tempeh, tofu
- Beans and legumes like black beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), lentils
Choose a healthy fat
Top your Balance Bowl with a small serving of healthy fats. But do be careful with this one because you can also use fat as part of you flavorings in the next step.
These healthy fats can be something like a homemade vinaigrette, or it could be the oils you cooked your meal with.
If you aren’t using a fat as a part of your sauce (in the next step) you could sprinkle your bowl with healthy nuts or seeds, drizzle on nut butter or tahini, or use some sliced avocado or guacamole.
Healthy fat Ideas for Balance Bowls:
- Homemade vinaigrettes using healthy oils
- Avocado or guacamole
- Nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, coconut
- Seeds like chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
- Nut Butters – either as they are or made into a dressing
- Be aware of fats you use while cooking or the fat that is naturally found in some foods like salmon
Drizzle with Sauce or Flavorings
Now THIS is what makes your macro bowl FULL of flavor and in my personal opinion the most important part — the sauce!
This can be anything and you can use homemade sauce or you can choose a healthy store-bought sauce made from whole ingredients in your bowl.
But this if where you can add so much variety into your meals, so definitely don’t skip this part.
Simply drizzle on any sauce and toss your bowl together. YUM!
Here are a few ideas for Macro Bowl Sauces:
- Healthy Vinaigrettes – choose healthy oils and vinegars like apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Green Goddess Dressings
- Tahini Dressing
- Balsamic Vinegar Glaze or Vinaigrette
- Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Teriyaki sauce (always check ingredient labels for these if you are choosing store-bought to make sure they don’t have to many additives)
- Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, Fresh squeeze orange juice
- A drizzle of mustard or honey is tasty too
- You can also use spices and herbs to add in a ton of flavor too – crushed red pepper, oregano, garlic powder, or nutritional yeast are all amazing additions
Tips for Meal Prepping Macro Bowls
I love roasting vegetables on a big sheet pan each week to have veggies ready to go to add into my Balance Bowls. This is my favorite way to ensure that there are always veggies available.
I have an entire how-to guide for roasting vegetables to show you exactly how to cook perfect veggies every time no matter what veggies you are using.
We also tend to do a lot of batch cooking as well when we meal prep.
In other words, we cook large batches of certain foods and use them differently through the week in our meals.
For example, we make 2-3 pounds of grilled chicken each week and use it in many different ways, such as in Balance Bowls like these, or in other meals like tacos, stir-fry, or in pastas or breakfast scrambles.
We do this with our grains too. We almost always have rice prepared each week, and I always make a double batch to freeze rice for when life gets a little crazy — it’s kind of like “minute rice” but without all the additives.
My Favorite Balance Bowl Combination:
I’ve included a recipe for one of our go-to Balance Bowls that we make in our house — a simple chicken and quinoa bowl.
We always stock our freezer with quick and simple veggies and frozen prepared rice or quinoa for easy meals when we have zero time.
Having quick staple foods on hand can be key for making sure you have nutritious meals even when life gets absolutely crazy and that is something that I teach all of the members in the NOURISH. Course.
- 1 1/2 cup quinoa
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast or thighs
- salt + pepper to taste
- 1–2 pounds vegetables (I like using frozen broccoli and cauliflower, but anything works)
- 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt + pepper to taste
- ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- salt + pepper
To Make the Quinoa:
- Combine the quinoa and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let it sit, covered for 10 more minutes. Fluff with a fork.
To Make the Chicken:
- To grill: Preheat your grill to medium high and lightly oil the grates. Cook your chicken thighs for 6-8 minutes per side, flipping once. When the internal temp reaches 165°F your chicken is done.
- To bake: Preheat your oven to 350°F and bake your chicken thighs for about 25-30 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 165°F.
To Roast the Vegetables:
- Heat the oven to 425°F.
- Chop up the vegetables. Toss the vegetables with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly onto a baking sheet.
- Cook until the veggies are tender. Start checking and stirring every 10-15 minutes or so.
To Make the Vinaigrette:
Shake everything in a mason jar, and store with an airtight lid in the refrigerator.
How to Make a Power Bowl:
- 1 cup quinoa
- ½ cup diced chicken
- 1 cup veggies
- Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons dressing