Mixed grain bowl is full of healthy goodness

Grain bowls come together quickly and make a nutritious lunch, dinner or even breakfast. (Tribune News Service)

Did you overindulge over the holidays? Me, too. Which is why like so many others whose pants are just a little too tight, I have have vowed to eat a little more mindfully in this new year.

I'm in pretty good company. The just-released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, published jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services every five years, recommends a daily diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with lean meats and whole grains. It also limits foods and beverages that are higher in added sugars, saturated fat and sodium and advises drinking less alcohol.

The bottom line of the 164-page report is that every bite (and sip) should count if you want to stay healthy and ward off chronic diseases.

To that end, I'm starting 2021 with an easy-to-make dish that's visually appealing and packed with nutrition. It's a grain bowl made up of a hearty and nourishing blend of cooked whole grains, low-fat feta cheese, heart-healthy avocado and a zesty lemon yogurt sauce. It's finished with a handful of antioxidant-rich broccoli microgreens.

I used a bagged "ancient grain" medley that includes amaranth, buckwheat and sprouted quinoa. But any whole-grain or combination of them will taste great — options include barley, brown or wild rice, bulgar, sorghum, or even millet if you want to try something new.

If you make the grains a day or so ahead of time, the bowl will take just minutes to whip together. So, too, with the yogurt sauce, which can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days; stir before using.

The grains can be served warm, at room temperature or even cold out of the fridge, although the cashews won't be as crunchy once the bowl has been chilled.

MIXED GRAIN BOWL

Servings: 4

For the bowl:

1½ cups cooked mixed ancient grains, still warm

1 cup broccoli microgreens or bean sprouts, divided

½ cup crumbled feta

½ cup chopped salted cashews

Salt and pepper to taste

1 ripe avocado, diced

For the lemon yogurt sauce:

½ cup plain yogurt

Grated lemon zest from ½ lemon

Juice of ½ lemon

1 tablespoon finely minced green onion or chives

Pinch or 2 of kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, gently stir together the warm grains, half of the microgreens or sprouts, and the feta and nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a second small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, and green onion or chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If it's too thick, add water by the teaspoon until you reach the desired consistency (it should be thin enough to drizzle).

Divide grain mixture between 4 bowls, and top with diced avocado and remaining microgreens. Drizzle lemon yogurt sauce on top, and top with a pinch of flaky salt.

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