What makes a perfect lunch? For me, the midday meal is a time to hit pause on my to-do list and treat myself to something delicious and satisfying. It’s a welcome break in the day where I can get restored for whatever comes next. It’s also an opportunity to pack in as many energy-boosting nutrients as possible—that 3pm slump is real, and in my experience it’s directly tied to what I ate for lunch that day. This Mediterranean Grain Bowl is my current lunchtime obsession. Not only is it easy to meal prep completely on the weekend, it also combines so many of the top longevity foods into a delicious meal that boosts heart and brain health.
The formula for any good grain bowl is typically a combination of fiber-rich whole grains with protein and veggies, making it a one-bowl nutrient-packed meal. To make it really delicious, think about adding contrast with flavor, texture, and color. I like to come up with a loose “theme” for my grain bowls—say, Mexican or Fall Flavors—to tie everything together.
For today’s grain bowl (admittedly my new favorite), I was inspired by the flavors in a traditional Greek salad. Then I added other heart-healthy Mediterranean ingredients to level it up and keep me feeling full and energized. Scroll on for exactly how this colorful, delicious, and super healthy Mediterranean Grain Bowl comes together in less than 30 minutes.
Why we love the Mediterranean diet
As someone who loves to eat delicious food and prioritizes optimum health, I’m always looking for a way of eating that both satisfies and nourishes my body. Despite all the conflicting dietary information out there, it’s hard to argue with the Mediterranean diet. Not only is it filled with the most flavor-packed and satisfying food (hello EVOO!), it’s also backed by science as the diet that’s most helpful in reducing the risk of chronic diseases and promoting overall well-being.
The Mediterranean diet’s healthy plant-based proteins, fats, fiber-rich grains, and veggies are all found in this bowl, hence the name.
How to make these Mediterranean Grain Bowls
One of the many reasons I love this grain bowl recipe is that you can prep all the ingredients on the weekend, toss it together, and keep it in the fridge to eat for lunch all week. My kinda meal prep. The ingredients are sturdy enough to hold up without becoming soggy—in fact, I think the flavors get even better after marinating overnight. Here’s the rundown:
First, you’re going to make your quinoa according to the package directions. My own secret to fluffy and non-soggy quinoa? During the “cooling” step, place a double-layered paper towel between the pot and the lid for about 10 minutes. The towel absorbs any excess water evaporating off the quinoa, leaving it the perfect consistency.
Next, you’re going to chop up your cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion. Halve the olives and grapes, and chop up all your herbs. I like to use lots of herbs in this to make it almost tabbouleh-like. Mint, parsley, and basil are my favorite, but any fresh herbs like chives or dill work beautifully too.
Next, rinse and drain your chickpeas. You can absolutely make chickpeas from dried and they’ll be even more delicious, but I usually take a welcome shortcut with good-quality canned chickpeas.
Then, make the simplest dressing by shaking up lemon juice, olive oil, plain greek yogurt, and a squeeze of agave or honey in a mason jar.
Finally, you simply toss the cooked quinoa with all your veggies and herbs, add some dressing and toss again, then top it with feta. It’s truly the best flavor combo—the grapes are a little outside-the-box, but their pop of sweetness is where it’s at.
Meal prep tips for success
If you’re going to prep this Mediterranean Grain Bowl in advance like I do, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You can either prep all the ingredients and keep them separated in the fridge, or you can go ahead and toss it together and store the entire grain salad in an airtight container in the fridge. I do like to hold off on adding the dressing until just before serving.
- Cook your quinoa, and let it cool down all the way before tossing with other ingredients. You don’t want any excess steam adding water and making this dish soggy.
- Feel free to eat this cold right out of the fridge, or it’s also great served at room temp—making this the perfect dish to pack for a picnic.
Other Mediterranean-Inspired Recipes You’ll Love
Pack this bright and zesty spring pasta salad for every picnic all season. Super easy to toss together, it’s bursting with vegetables and so much flavor.
This healthy flatbread pizza recipe is topped with eggplant, tomatoes, and ricotta. It’s the perfect simple summer dinner.
This healthy one-dish wonder is perfect for a busy weeknight or a Saturday night with friends. Baking the salmon with the vegetables and lemon slices yields a perfectly tender and flavorful fish every time, since the veggies release their juices to create their own flavorful sauce.