These two bowls feature your choice of gluten-free grains piled with autumn vegetables and topped off with a versatile creamy chipotle sauce.

double-broccoli power bowls with chickpeas and fennel

Photo © Katrin Björk, excerpted from Build-a-Bowl

I don’t know about you, but for me the dinnertime scramble is real. Whether you have a job or kids or both, it can be a struggle to satisfy the desire to eat something vibrant and delectable without having hours to spend in the kitchen. After my second daughter was born, I had less time than ever, but I didn’t want to give up on my commitment to feeding my family well. Oh, all right; that’s a lie. In truth, I didn’t want to give up my desire to eat good food every night.

Enter Build-a-Bowl!

Each recipe in my book is a complete, balanced meal, meaning there’s no deciding what to pair with the entrée or scrambling to make side dishes. With plenty of options for customization, the recipes appeal to different palates and lifestyles. Perhaps best of all, every meal comes together in less than an hour if you have a batch of precooked grains at the ready.

Cooking grains ahead is the single most important thing, if you’re going to be just a few steps away from an awesome meal. The second most important tip is, make a big batch. (The only grain that I don’t make ahead is white rice, as the texture is best straight from the pot) Cooked grains can happily chill in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months.

grain bowls for fall roasted cauliflower and squash

Roasted Cauliflower & Squash with Black Beans & Avocado + Cream Chipotle Sauce. This bowl uses your choice of quinoa, rice, or millet (all gluten-free grains) and the sauce goes well on lots of dishes — including the Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts Bowl. Photo © Katrin Björk, excerpted from Build-a-Bowl.

But let’s be real. There are evenings when I haven’t planned ahead and the freezer stash has run dry. No fear! Cooking grains is mostly a hands-off affair, and they can simmer away while you prep the rest of dinner. Quinoa, millets, white rice, and buckwheat cook quicker than some other grains, and are my go-tos for those “$#%&-it’s-six-o’clock-and-I-haven’t-started-dinner-yet!” nights.

To keep the following recipes gluten-free, I suggest using one of the following:

  • Quinoa: Grassy in flavor and fluffy in texture, quinoa is one of the only ancient grains that contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is high in fiber and a good source of antioxidants and minerals. It’s also one of the few alkaline grains, meaning it doesn’t create acidity in the body.
  • Rice: Whether you’re using black, brown, or white rice (each has slightly different texture and taste offerings), you may be aware that arsenic accumulation from pesticides and fertilizers has become a concern. There are a few things you can do to reduce your exposure to arsenic in rice. First seek out organic rice grown in California or rice from the Himalayan region, which appear to have lower levels of arsenic than rice grown in other regions. Second, wash the rice well in several changes of fresh water. Finally, eat rice in moderation as part of a varied diet, and limit your consumption of rice-based products, such as rice milk, crackers, and cereals.
  • Millet: A versatile, quick-cooking grain, millet has a nutty, cornlike flavor. Millet is high in fiber and provides important vitamins and minerals, such as phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Like quinoa, it is alkaline, meaning it’s easily digestible and doesn’t create acidity in the body.

You should plan on preparing 1 cup of uncooked grains to get enough for several servings. Each bowl serving should use about ½ cup of cooked grains, so if you’re making a big batch, you should have plenty left over.

roasted sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts bowl with gluten free grains

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts with Eggs & Maple Pecans + Maple Sriracha Yogurt. Photo © Katrin Björk, excerpted from Build-a-Bowl.

Storing and Reheating Made-Ahead Grains

If you make your grains in advance (you’re amazing!) transfer them to a wide bowl or a large baking sheet and let them cool completely. Store them in a sealed container if they’re going in the fridge. For freezing, I prefer to use labeled quart-size ziplock freezer bags. That way, they can be stacked in a tidy pile without taking up too much space. Defrost the grains in the refrigerator overnight, at room temperature for a few hours, or in the microwave (transfer the grains to a bowl and microwave them on medium power in 1-minute intervals, stirring between each, until thawed).

Roasted Cauliflower & Squash with Black Beans & Avocado + Creamy Chipotle Sauce

With roasted Delicata squash, caramelized cauliflower, garlicky black beans, and a creamy chipotle sauce, this dish is both crave-worthy and comforting. This is one of my very favorite sauces, and you’re going to want to eat it on everything — try drizzling it over tacos, salads, or Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts (recipe follows).

Serves 4 | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 25 minutes


  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ⅔ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1–2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium Delicata squash
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated on a Microplane
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 batch cooked quinoa, rice, or millet
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
  • Toasted pepitas
  • Fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Make the sauce: Place the garlic clove in a mini food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Add the yogurt, mayonnaise, lime juice, water, honey, oil, and 1 teaspoon of the adobo. Season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Taste and add another teaspoon of the adobo sauce, if you prefer a spicier sauce.
  2. Build the bowls: Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.
  3. Trim off the ends of the squash, then cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out and discard the seeds. Slice each half crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices. Place the squash in a large bowl and drizzle with the maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle with the chili powder and season with salt and pepper. Toss well to coat. Spread the squash out in a single layer on one of the baking sheets.
  4. Place the cauliflower in the same bowl (no need to wash it) and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle with the cumin and season with salt and pepper. Toss well to coat. Spread the cauliflower out on the second baking sheet in a single layer.
  5. Roast the vegetables for about 25 minutes, or until caramelized and tender, flipping over the squash slices and stirring the cauliflower halfway through.
  6. While the vegetables roast, toss the black beans with the grated garlic, lime juice, and the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Spoon the grains into bowls. Arrange the roasted squash, cauliflower, and black beans over the top. Drizzle with the sauce and top with the avocado slices, pepitas, and cilantro leaves.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts with Eggs & Maple Pecans + Maple-Sriracha Yogurt

Roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are piled over grains and topped with runny eggs and a one-minute maple-sriracha yogurt sauce, which you’re going to want to slather over everything. Crispy maple pecans take these bowls over the top. In my book, this recipe is written with Maple-Sriracha Yogurt as the topping, but the Creamy Chipotle Sauce is an equally delicious option, especially if you want to get extra mileage out of making one sauce. For a vegetarian variation, omit the bacon.

Serves 4 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 45 minutes


Maple-Sriracha Yogurt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (preferably whole-milk)
  • 2–3 teaspoons sriracha
  • 2–3 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • OR make Creamy Chipotle Sauce (see recipe above)
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large)
  • medium sweet potato (1 pound), cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4–8 bacon strips (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 batch cooked grains


  1. Make the sauce: Mix together the yogurt, sriracha, and maple syrup to taste in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Or, if you prefer, use the recipe above for Creamy Chipotle Sauce
  2. Build the bowls: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and two baking sheets with aluminum foil.
  3. Pour the pecans onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and season with salt to taste. Toss well to coat, then spread the nuts in a single layer. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until the nuts are a shade darker in color and aromatic. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and let cool (the nuts will harden as they cool).
  4. In the meantime, combine the Brussels sprouts and sweet potato on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with the oil and the remaining 2 teaspoons maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer. Roast, stirring once or twice, for 35 to 40 minutes, until caramelized and tender.
  5. While the vegetables cook, arrange the bacon (if using) on the second foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Slide the bacon into the oven with the vegetables and let bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until crisp (thick-cut bacon will take a few minutes longer). Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
  6. Fry or poach the eggs.
  7. Spoon the grains into bowls. Arrange the roasted vegetables on top of the grains, and slide an egg over the top of each. Drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Top with a strip or two of bacon, if using, and crush some maple pecans over the top.

Text and recipes excerpted and adapted slightly from Build-a-Bowl © 2018 by Nicki Sizemore. All rights reserved.

Nicki Sizemore

Nicki Sizemore is the author of Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker and Build-a-Bowl and the creator of, which features recipes that can be made… See Bio

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