This is one of the base recipes as seen in our Whole Life Meal Plan. Are you trying to eat more plant-forward but don’t know where to start? Burrito bowls are a simple and flavorful way to add more plants to your plate! Whole grains, beans, and tons of options for flavor additions make this healthy burrito bowl base recipe a necessary staple in your recipe rotation!
Three Must Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for the Best Burrito Bowl
To make this burrito bowl meal prep friendly, prepare your beans and rice at the beginning of the week. You can either prepare the beans from dried, as seen in our stovetop dried beans base recipe or instant pot dried beans base recipe, or use canned. All are healthy and delicious! If using canned beans, choose a low-sodium variety and add seasonings to taste.
If preparing the burrito bowl ahead of time, do not mix the beans and rice in with the romaine, as this will cause the romaine to wilt. Add all ingredients to the bowl once ready to serve.
If not using freshly cooked beans and rice, reheat them in a microwave-safe bowl before adding the romaine. You can also serve the burrito bowl cold.
- Romaine: substitute spinach, red or green leaf lettuce, spring mix, baby kale, or massaged kale.
- Whole Grain: use brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, barley, farro, or millet.
- Beans: we like pinto and black beans best for burrito bowls, but any bean will work – chickpeas, edamame, black eyed peas, lentils, kidney beans, or white beans. For a slightly different taste and texture, use non-refried beans.
- Toppings: the topping options are nearly endless! Shredded chicken, flaked fish, and ground beef & mushroom taco meat are all great animal protein additions. Tofu or tempeh are delicious and satisfying vegetarian/vegan options. Greek yogurt, sour cream, lime crema, avocado, guacamole, and cheese all add a creamy taste and mouthfeel. Salsa, pico de gallo, diced tomatoes, hot sauce, fresh chopped cilantro, and fresh lime all add brightness and flavor. You can also add fresh or roasted vegetables for even more color and nutrition benefits.
Because this is a base recipe, there are nearly endless ways to customize it to YOUR taste! Add, swap, or take away any burrito bowl ingredients to make this a delicious and satisfying meal.
If you just use the base ingredients, this is naturally a vegetarian burrito bowl. However, if you want to switch up your proteins and flavors, feel free to add animal proteins.
Make a chicken burrito bowl by adding our Mexican shredded chicken. Make a beef burrito bowl by adding our ground beef and mushroom taco meat.
To make a vegan burrito bowl, simply choose plant-based toppings, such as salsa, guacamole, tofu, and/or tempeh.
Use these kitchen tools for recipe success:
- 2-3 Quart Saucepan (if cooking the whole grain)
- Instant Pot (if cooking Instant Pot Dried Beans)
- Chef’s Knife
- Cutting Board
- Measuring Cups
What makes this a healthy burrito bowl?
Whether you choose to add animal proteins or not, this burrito bowl is still packed with colorful and nutritious plant foods, making it a plant-forward meal. Leafy greens, beans, and whole grains are the featured ingredients in this healthy burrito bowl base recipe.
Leafy green veggies are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that promote health and help fight diseases.
Beans are one of our favorite foods because they are packed with high quality nutrients. All of the world’s longest lived populations consume beans daily. Beans are incredibly versatile and can be altered to meet any texture, flavor, or health preference. Beans of all varieties contain plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients promote gut health, decrease risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and promote a healthy weight.
Whole grains, such as brown rice, farro, quinoa, and barley are good sources of fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Fiber is important for digestion, satiety, stable blood sugar, good cholesterol, and healthy gut bacteria. Phytochemicals work as antioxidants to help fight off diseases and keep us well.
Adding more colorful and flavorful toppings can provide additional health benefits. Check out our Food as Medicine article to learn more.
Burrito Bowl Serving Suggestions
Burrito bowls are great for lunch or dinner. Serve warm or cold. If reheating rice and beans from leftovers, heat separately from the romaine, otherwise the lettuce will wilt and not hold a great texture.
Store all ingredients separately in airtight containers for up to 1 week. Once ready to serve, heat if desired and assemble. Made more rice or beans than you can eat this week? Both ingredients can be frozen for 3-6 months.
Want more simple plant-forward recipes?
Check out these favorites!
Healthy Burrito Bowl Base Recipe
- 1 cup shredded romaine
- ¾ cup cooked whole grain (brown rice or quinoa suggested)
- ½ cup beans (black or pinto suggested)
- 2 ounces animal or plant protein (shredded Mexican chicken, Mexican baked fish, ground beef and mushroom taco meat, baked tofu, or crumbled tempeh)
- Dollop Greek yogurt, sour cream, or lime crema
- Salsa, pico de gallo, or diced tomatoes
- Fresh or roasted corn
- Diced avocado or guacamole
- Sautéed peppers and onions
- Shredded or crumbled cheese
- Fresh chopped cilantro
- Fresh lime
- Hot sauce
- Heat whole grain and beans in a microwave-safe bowl if desired.
- Combine romaine, whole grain, and beans in a bowl. Add optional toppings to taste. Enjoy!