5 Tips for a Better Burrito Bowl

Filling and flavorful, “burrito bowls” give us what we love about hearty burritos while leaving out all the extra calories, salt and fat that come with flour tortillas. However, layering on the more calorie-heavy ingredients, like sour cream and shredded cheese, can rack up those numbers, and while your tastebuds may crave another ladleful of warm queso, your body craves a whole lot more in the way of essential vitamins and beneficial phytonutrients.

If you're like us, a hefty lunchtime burrito bowl could very well be a daily affair. and with the right balance of ingredients the help of a few superfood swaps, it certainly has the potential to be just about the most healthful, nutritious meals you have all week! Here's how you can build a better-for-you burrito bowl at home:

Veggie Burrito Bowl with Avocado & Pico de Gallo

Start with Whole Grains

Whole grains are important primarily because they are rich in fiber, which is linked to healthy cholesterol levels, digestive balance, and reduced risk of chronic diseases like stroke and heart disease. Numerous studies have shown the fiber has a profound positive effect on appetite control and weight loss, as well as improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. However, most Americans fail to consume even half the recommended daily amount amount of fiber - about 25 to 30 grams!

Brown rice is on standby in most kitchen cabinets, but feel free to experiment with trendier options like quinoa, freekeh, and millet. Barley is a great choice for those who enjoy chewiness in their grains. Wild rice, kamut, farro, and even steel-cut oats also make for delicious, rich, fiber-rich foundation to your burrito bowl.

Load Up on Legumes

Another champion of fiber is beans! Just one cup of cooked black beans contains 15 grams of fiber (already half or more of you daily needs) as well as other essential vitamins, like folate and other B vitamins, and minerals, like iron, magnesium and potassium. They're also rich in protein, providing you with more than enough to keep you satisfied even if you opt to keep your burrito bowl vegetarian.

White beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans are all great options, but feel free to experiment with tofu and tempeh for a unique spin.

Veg Out

Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sweet peppers and charred corn not only add a fresh crunch to your bowl, but also color, flavor and a plethora of phytonutrients. Variety is the spice of life, and it's the most delicious insurance to cover all our nutrition bases. Feel free to mix it up with any fruits or veggies you have on hand; roasted summer squash, fresh cucumber salsa and spicy kohlrabi slaw are just a few great ideas. The best part is that the options are near endless, especially during the summer months when it feels like just about is in abundance and ready to be eaten!

Easy on the Cheese

You don't have to break up with cheese entirely, but you should consider laying off the queso from time to time if you''re trying to make burrito bowls a daily habit. For some, even a short hiatus from cheese may be heart-breaking enough... but allow me to play matchmaker and set you up with my good friend, the avocado. If you already know that "guac is extra" - and yes, you're willing to pay for it - then you probably don't need any more convincing that this creamy, dreamy superfood is so rich and satisfying that it'll make you forgot all about that silly old queso.

While cheese contains a significant amount of saturated fat, which is linked to higher LDL "bad" cholesterol level and inflammation, avocados are richer in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are linked to the opposite. Avocados also contain nutrients like antioxidant carotenoids which can be used for several functions in the body, like immune support and eye health. They’re fat-soluble compounds, so the natural fat that avocados contain aids in there absorption. A final pro-tip for guac-lovers: instead of serving your avocado in slices, try mashing some and folding in some pico de gallo with an extra spritz of lime juice. Voila! That’s guacamole!

Swap out the Sour Cream

Being tangy and creamy, high in protein and relatively low in saturated fat, greek yogurt is a great alternative to sour cream in terms of flavor and nutrition. It’s also a good source of beneficial probiotic bacteria which play a major role in gut health, and by extension, immunity, hormonal balance, and mental health altogether. Want something more plant-based? Try hummus! It's rich, smooth and packed with protein and fiber. An extra squeeze of lime will give it the tang you crave.

chicken burrito bowl with pico de gallo and black beans

Looking for more superfood Tex-Mex flavors? Try these recipes: