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Mid-March Protein Fix

So at the start of the year I think I may promised myself something about going to the gym 3 times a week and eating really healthily. Maybe…. I’m not sure. Right now as I sit here eating chocolate and debating whether I can be bothered to climb the hill to my lectures (let alone the gym), the person that made that promise can’t be me can she?

Sound familiar? It’s March, and if you’ve kept up any healthy living promises you made at the start of 2020 then you’re a much better person than I am.

I decided to take some measures to rectify the situation, and this began with my diet.

*Hastily swallows last piece of chocolate and looks innocent*

Inspired by some of the wonderful food I had last week at Herbies (see my review), I decided to attempt creating my own Buddha Bowl, however using chicken for the protein boost I needed to get me back to the gym. I’m not sure if the chicken addition means this can qualify as a true “Buddha Bowl”, but the chicken could easily be replaced with tofu.

Fair warning when I started I did not realise the amount of time that goes into constructing the perfect Buddha Bowl – full respect to those more patient than I am.

For the Buddha Bowl:

Serves 2

· 2 chicken breasts

· 1 courgette

· 1 pepper

· 200g couscous

· Mixed salad (pre-mixed or make your own)

· 1 avocado

· Red onion

· White wine vinegar

· 2 pitta breads

· A generous amount of hummus

· Mixed herbs

· Chilli flakes

For the marinade:

· 2 tblsp Olive oil

· 1 lemon

· Mixed herbs

· Salt and pepper

· 2 garlic cloves, chopped

For the dressing:

· 2 tsp Balsamic vinegar

· 1 tsp Olive oil

· Juice of ½ lemon

· 2 tsp honey

· 1 tsp Dijon mustard

· Salt and pepper

Method:

1. First butterfly your chicken. This is a wonderful exercise if you’ve had a stressful day. Place the chicken breasts in a sandwich bag on one chopping board, and then thwack it with another chopping board. If you’re struggling then do as I did (imagined the chicken was my ex)

2. Having vented your frustrations on the chicken, make the marinade. Simply place the olive oil, garlic, the juice of the lemon, some salt and pepper, and generous pinch of mixed herbs in a bowl and stir to combine

3. In a shallow bowl pour a layer of your marinade, then place a chicken breast on top, add another layer of marinade, then the other chicken breast, and finally the rest of the marinade. You can rub the marinade into the chick a little for added flavour

4. While you leave the chicken to sit half an hour, prepare everything else

5. Begin by cutting the onion into thin slices, and then drizzling with white wine vinegar – leave these to sit for as long as possible to create a lovely pickled effect

6. Slice the courgette and pepper to create long thin slices, perfect for grilling later. Feel free to do as I did and waste a considerable amount of time trying to get the perfect aesthetically sliced courgette (total waste of time)

7. Peel and slice the avocado

8. Make the salad dressing. Feel free to rearrange the quantities here, personally I quite like a vinegary salad dressing but that may not be to everyone’s taste. Simply throw the ingredients in a jam jar and give it a good shake

9. Finally (yes Buddha Bowl’s are a considerable amount of effort), you’re ready to start cooking. Heat a pan on a medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil then place the chicken breasts in the pan and fry until tender and starting to crisp

10. While the chicken cooks, make the couscous (usually place in boiling water of at least twice as many ml of water as you have grams of couscous for just over 5 minutes, and then leave to sit)

11. When the couscous is cooked (all the water has been absorbed), stir in 1tsp of olive oil and ½ tsp of butter, some mixed herbs and some chipotle chilli flakes. Then leave to stand for 10 minutes

12. Meanwhile grill your peppers and courgette. If you have it, use a George Foreman grill, but otherwise grill as normal until the veg is soft and slightly browned

13. Remove the veg from the grill and the chicken from the pan. Slice the chicken into whatever size pieces you see fit

At this point, you can either say “forget it, I’m hungry”, throw everything in a bowl and get stuck in, or you can commit to true Buddha-bowl-style and construct a flamboyant arrangement – we do eat with our eyes after all.

The latter was what I decided to do. My arrangement meant that I did as follows:

1. Carefully placed a handful of mixed salad down one side of a bowl

2. Even more carefully spooned 3 spoonfuls of couscous down the other side

3. Tucked peppers and courgettes down the couscous side of the bowl

4. Drizzled the salad with the dressing and then neatly arranged avocado and red onions on top of it

5. Gently placed the sliced chicken down the middle of the bowl

6. Tucked the pitta bread down one side and added a dollop of hummus

7. Sprinkled a few chipotle chilli flakes on top of the hummus

So there you have it: a considerable amount of time later, 2 Buddha bowls. I will admit it was A LOT of effort for what is essentially some chicken and veggies. Although I have to admit that the preparation and arrangement did look pretty sexy in the end. I will be doing this meal again, it did taste absolutely delicious, but next time I think I’ll save myself some time and just throw everything on a plate. That being said, this is a wonderful protein fix, and ticks all the healthy boxes (well maybe less olive oil next time) so I’ll be keeping the recipe.

Hazel Bannerman

Hazel is a History undergraduate who delights in fine dining on a budget, she also enjoys classic comfort cuisines.

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