If you’ve been to a restaurant lately, you may have noticed that bowls are taking over. The bowl is the new square plate!

There are many reasons for this trend. It’s easier to stir pasta or toss a salad in a bowl, for one thing; bowls also help control portion size. Plates provide more space for food, while bowls encourage smaller servings. You can’t cut a big steak in a bowl, for example. For a bowl meal, steak is sliced and served over grains and greens. Bowls encourage mixing, so layering of textures and flavors create the perfect meal.

For bowl meals, there are five essential layers:

  1. Start your bowl with whole grains such as quinoa, farro, brown rice, or soba noodles.
  2. Top with veggies like mushrooms, soy beans, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, kale, cucumbers, or tomatoes. Mix and match. Raw or cooked.
  3. Then add a protein, like chicken, red meat, fish, tofu, or egg. Whatever you choose, slice or chop into fork size pieces. Use this layer to pile on some bold flavors by smoking, seasoning, or marinading the meat, fish, or tofu.
  4. Sauce it up. The sauce, when mixed, will penetrate the whole dish to bring the layers together.
  5. Add crunch. Sprinkle on nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, or a small amount of a raw vegetables or croutons.

Cooking Light shared six amazing bowl recipes, each under 400 calories. Our favorites:

Korean Shrimp BBQ Bowl

This bowl starts with brown rice, fresh spinach, and mushrooms. Cabbage, carrots, and green onions are your veggie layer. Add shrimp and a fried egg with a spicy aioli sauce, and you have a dish that’s packed with flavor.

Thai Crunch Bowl with Salmon

This bowl is packed with 31 grams of protein! Top quinoa with carrots, red bell pepper, edamame, red cabbage, salmon, and peanuts, then add sesame-peanut sauce.

California Caprese Bowl

This bowl is perfect for lunch on the go because you can make it in advance and take it with you. Start with ½ cup cooked farro, then add 1 cup baby arugula, 3 tablespoons chopped avocado, 2/3 cup tomato wedges, 1 ounce torn fresh mozzarella cheese, 2 tablespoons fresh basil, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 cooked and crumbled center-cut bacon slice, and an amazing balsamic-Dijon Sauce. Just mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil with 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.

Southern Barbecue Bowl

This bowl starts with a layer of bulgar. Bulgur is a whole wheat grain so it’s not good for a gluten free diet, but you can substitute with rice or other grain.  Layer with coleslaw, pinto beans, corn, roasted pork shoulder, pickle, and a tangy white sauce.

Choose your own combinations and create bowls of deliciousness!