Trend Spotlight

Bowl-Meal Trend Livens-up Dining Hall Menus

Volume 2, Issue 1 | May 2018

Healthy, colorful and loaded with flavor, bowl meals have become increasingly popular. Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of restaurants serving bowl meals grew by 73 percent. The bowl meal has also become a staple for college and university foodservice operators, because it’s a healthy and customizable dish that can easily accommodate dietary restrictions.

The bowl meal typically consists of fresh and functional ingredients like berries and vegetables, combined with a healthy base of quinoa or rice. Bowl meals can be dished-up in a number of ways, from sweet nut-and-berry breakfast medleys, to savory protein bowls topped with trendy vegetables, meat and zesty dressing. Many C&U operators are offering bowl meals that incorporate on-trend, ethnic-inspired flavors, along with a variety of U.S.-grown rice varieties, including basmati, jasmine and long- and short-grain brown rice.

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For C&U operators, bowl meals offer an easy way to accommodate students’ dietary restrictions. Rice is naturally gluten-free, and bowl meals can be adapted for vegan and vegetarian diets. Bowl meals are also satisfying, without being heavy or high in calories.

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CU 5 Recipe1 - Trend Spotlight

Superfood Bowl
North African flavors are on-trend right now, and this dish incorporates the popular Moroccan spice blend, ras el hanout. View recipe

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Teriyaki Chicken and Edamame Rice Bowl
This fragrant and satisfying dish can be easily adapted for vegetarians – just prepare the chicken separately and offer it on the side. View recipe

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Mediterranean Breakfast Kale Rice Bowl
This hearty dish filled with eggs, kale and basmati rice is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or anytime of day. View recipe

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Wild and Brown Rice & Roasted Grape Bowl
It’s no secret that young people like to snap pictures of their food. This dish – loaded with roasted grapes, arugula and pecans – looks stunning in photographs. View recipe

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Poke Bowl
This classic Hawaiian dish features salmon, vegetables and short grain brown rice providing a meal that is rich in nutrients. View recipe

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Sofritas Bowl
Meals that combine ethnic flavors and ingredients are on-trend, and this inventive dish features the flavors of Mexico along with tofu, a staple of many Asian diets. View recipe

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Curry Chicken Lime Rice Bowl
The addition of mango chutney to this curry dish adds a bright flavor. View recipe

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Summertime Shrimp and Rice Bowl
This recipe featuring grilled shrimp, basil and long grain white rice is easily adaptable to indoor foodservice grills. View recipe

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Orange Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowl
Flavorful, but not overly spicy, this dish has mass appeal. View recipe

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How to Implement

Many types of cuisine overlap in some way – cilantro, for example, is a common ingredient in both Asian and Latin American dishes. When you add bowl meals to your menu, you may find that you’re spending less money on ingredients, because you can use many of the same ingredients in different bowl meals.

A bowl bar or action station allows diners to customize their meal. Here’s what a bowl bar might look like, based on three styles of cuisine:

MEXICAN – Ground taco meat, beef and chicken fajita meat, guacamole, a variety of salsas, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and onions. Long-grain white rice is a perfect complement for this cuisine.

MEDITERRANEAN – Falafel, Greek chicken, hummus, tzatiki sauce, onions, olives, lettuce, tomatoes, pepperoncini, and schwarma. This cuisine goes well with long-grain white or brown rice, jasmine or basmati.

ASIAN – A stir-fry station, or poke bowl station, with ingredients like edamame, baby corn, carrots, onions, peppers and tofu, accompanied by medium-grain white and brown rice, jasmine or basmati.

Interested in learning more about how U.S.-grown rice can help you grow your menu?
Check out additional recipes here.