Food Trend Spotlight: Power Bowls

February 2020

Bowls have taken over foodservice menus recently and the trend is not expected to go away anytime soon. Power bowls offer the consumer highly customizable and balanced meals in convenient and often portable vessels for on-the-go. For operators, bowls offer versatility and the ability to cross-utilize a variety of ingredients into diverse offerings.

Here at Lentils.org we like to define the makeup of a balanced power bowl, per serving:

  • ½ cup whole grains
  • ½ cup lentils
  • 1 cup produce
  • 2 oz of meat as a condiment (optional)
  • Generous use of spices, herbs, aromatics, nuts, seeds, to flavor and inspire

Packed with many interesting components and colors, power bowls are a great application for safe experimentation, allowing the consumer to try a new ingredient, flavor, or cuisine when it is paired with those that are more familiar to entice them. Around 85% of consumers are looking to increase vegetable consumption (Datassential) and bowls are perfect vessel to do so, and also capitalize on the health halo effect of better-for-you menu items.

Lentils are perfectly positioned to offer a protein and fiber boost to your bowl applications. While lentils themselves are relatively neutral in taste, they are a flavor sponge to soak up all of the bold and exciting flavors they are paired with, and hold wonderfully for long periods of time either warm or cold. Lentils are currently in the proliferation stage of the Menu Adoption Cycle in bowl applications, meaning they are seen as mainstream, and expected to grow 53% on menus in the next four years (Datassential).

Culinary Appeal & Innovation Opportunities

For operators, bowls present an opportunity to cross-utilize many ingredients into an endless variety of combinations. The versatility of bowls allows for innovation around ingredient choice and seasonality by creating different concepts for each season and utilizing seasonal produce. Lean into innovation around global cuisine by using regionally influenced flavors and spices, and a great sauce, to highlight different regions of the world. The possibilities are endless to transport a finite list of ingredients into unique customizable bowls that pack huge flavor and inspiration. Try playing with color, texture, and temperature to elevate options and uniqueness further.  

Operational Perks

Operationally, power bowls can be served a number of ways – they can be assembled to order, customized to order on a quick-service order line, offered self-serve on a salad bar, or even as a prepared grab & go option. Prepared lentils and whole grains hold nicely both warm and cold, making them a perfect base for bowls in all formats.

Bowls span dayparts with applications at lunch and dinner, but also breakfast. Power bowls can also be easily tweaked to take advantage of, and elevate, seasonally abundant ingredients.

Getting You Started

To get you started, Lentils.org has developed a number of Power Bowl recipes with a mix of traditional takes and influenced mash-ups:

Winter Harvest Power Bowl

Spring Inspired Lentil Power Bowl

Lentil Falafel Bowl

BBQ Chicken Power Bowl

Asian-Inspired Lentil & Rice Bowl

Indian Dal Bowl

Nicoise Salad Bowl

Teriyaki Salmon & Lentil Bowl

Fall Harvest Power Bowl

Egyptian Koshari Bowl

Blackened Chicken Bowl

Sorghum & Lentil Spring Power Bowl

Lentil Breakfast Bowl

Green Lentil Shakshuka Bowl

Couscous & Lentil Salad Bowl

Shakshuka Breakfast Bowl

Lentil, Farro & Shrimp Paella Bowl

Skewered Beef Lentil Rice Bowl

Lentil Tabbouleh Salad Bowl

Braised Lebanese Lentil Freekah Bowl

Mediterranean Hummus Power Bowl

Sicilian Lentil Power Bowl

Let us know how you are innovating around Power Bowls on your menus – email us at info@lentils.org and share your ideas!