Make veggie bowls a family meal go-to with prepped ingredients. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Perhaps I was late to the party when it comes to veggie bowls. Some call them grain bowls or even Buddha bowls. Whatever you call them at your house, they’re on point when it comes to easy preparation and healthy nutrition. These bowls are quite economical and tasty too, so they have all the qualities we strive for here at the cove.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected] or 504-0545.

Right after I bring in the groceries from my weekly shopping, I begin by cooking a grain and steaming and/or sautéing the veggies of the week to file in the fridge for later use. I mix up a sauce or seasoning mix in a Mason jar. When it’s time to eat, I choose my combo, add a protein and finish with an ample drizzle of sauce and some crispy bits. That’s really all there is to it and, like most of the recipes I feature here, there’s a lot of flexibility to be had.

Sometimes I’m intentional with the veggie bowl prep and other times I wing it with what’s in the fridge and pantry. These meals in a bowl never come out the same way twice and that’s the beauty of it all.

Here I have this week’s formula to use as a guide served with tahini dressing.

For a treat, there is moist, tender chocolate cake that will knock your socks off. It’s quick yet gratifying to mix up and will make any old wintry day extra special. Add the coffee if you’re serving to adults only but kids go crazy for this glossy-glazed confection so using water is fine. Egg and dairy free, this cake fits the bill if you want to impress your vegan friends. Just use dairy-free chocolate chips for the glaze. Don’t have vegan friends? Make the cake just because. You won’t be sorry.

Winter veggie bowls

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2 cups cooked quinoa

1 bag frozen corn, steamed

1 bag frozen petite green beans, steamed

1 bag frozen California mix (broccoli, carrots and cauliflower), steamed

1 (15-1/2-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained

2-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

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1 cup slivered almonds

1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the kale leaves on the sheet, drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and massage the oil into the kale with your hands. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 15-20 minutes until crispy, stirring halfway through baking time.

Meanwhile, heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add garbanzos, season with salt and toast until very crispy, stirring occasionally.

Divide quinoa among four serving bowls. Do the same with the vegetables then top with garbanzos, almonds and kale. Add sauce.

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Yield: 4 generous servings

Tahini lemon dressing

1/2 cup tahini

4-6 tablespoons water, more if needed

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

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2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 small garlic cloves, grated

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth.

If the dressing is too thick, add more water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time until it has a drizzly consistency. This will make enough for four veggie bowls plus some leftover.

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Chocolate olive oil cake

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

3/4 cup sugar

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3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2 cups water or coffee

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of 9-inch round cake pan with a fitted round of parchment paper and coat the bottom and sides with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add brown sugar and olive oil and whisk to combine. Add water (or coffee) and vinegar and whisk until smooth.

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Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is springy and a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few sticky crumbs.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then cut around it with a knife to ensure it’s loosened and flip it out onto the rack to cool completely before pouring on the glaze.

Yield: 8 servings

Glaze

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons cocoa

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3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

A pinch or two of flaky sea salt

Combine chocolate, cocoa, olive oil, corn syrup and salt in a medium bowl and microwave to melt in 15- to 30-second increments, stirring between each until just melted. Whisk until smooth. Pour over completely cooled cake so that it drips down the sides. Sprinkle with a bit more sea salt.

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