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Genevieve Osbergand's Buddha Bowl.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

I took my granddaughter out to lunch and all she wanted was a smoothie bowl. I see bowls sold everywhere, so what’s behind the current cultural obsession with meals in bowls? Simply, bowls look good on Instagram. You only need one implement to eat from them, which means you can scroll through your phone at the same time. But they are also portable, casual and contained, meaning it’s a simple dish to clean up.

Bowl culture is so popular today that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle served savoury bowls at their wedding reception.

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It’s common to find some dishes, such as Buddha bowls, which are usually vegetarian, and poke bowls, which has raw fish in it, on menus, but one advantage of a bowl is that you can typically choose your own ingredients, personalizing it to your diet. Gluten-free? Keto? All can be dealt with. Are they healthy? It is a mixed bag, depending on the ingredients used and how they are prepared. Korean fried chicken over rice with spinach and bean sprouts looks attractive and tasty, but it is fat-laden and high in calories. If your bowl includes avocado, a large portion of protein and a mayo-based sauce, on top of rice or noodles, it could be more than 800 calories. To avoid this, choose a smaller bowl. The meal will be just as appetizing.

Ingredients frequently start with a carb of some kind. Rice, noodles, quinoa, sweet potato, farro and couscous all have a place at the base. Recently, spiralized zucchini or greens such as spinach have taken the place of carbs in some bowls. Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, either roasted or raw, are the next layer, followed by a protein, which can range from tofu or beans to fish, meat or chicken. Finally, the bowls are topped with sprouts, nuts or seeds for crunch, and a sauce, which could include tahini, spicy mayo or teriyaki.

At home, I find them to be a good way to refresh leftovers, which can look much more attractive piled in a bowl than on a flat plate. They are easy on the eye and tasty – a real comfort food.

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