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It’s bowl madness…and (shockingly) I’m not talking about college football! Whole grain bowls are all the rage now, and why not? They’re an easy and innovative way to make delicious, nutritious meals…and let’s not forget the fun factor! Are you looking for some great ways to jump into the bowl game? Read on, my friends!

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The concept of building a meal in a bowl, starting with grains and adding layers of flavor with vegetables, fruits, proteins and dairy, has gained great momentum recently and that’s why I’m excited to share James Beard Award-winning food writer Carolynn Carreno’s Bowls of Plenty with you.  Packed with more than 100 delicious breakfast, salad, main dish and dessert bowls, Carolynn’s creative recipes will inspire you to get cooking.

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I love to be a part of the media luncheons for new cookbooks at Melissa’s Produce.  It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to meet the authors and learn about their area of focus.  Without fail I leave energized, filled with new information and ready to learn more from each book. And when I can’t be there in person, I can still participate virtually as Melissa’s shares the presentations live on Facebook (you can also watch the videos after the presentation is done!). Such was the case with Bowls of Plenty.

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As she fried quinoa and sauteed fresh corn, Carolynn talked about growing up with a “pseudo-hippie…health nut” mother, and her career as a food wroter that had her eating a diet ranging from extraordinarily rich gourmet dishes to health food store goods.  This eventually brought her to a point where she was never feeling at her best, and she realized that changing her eating style was the key to regaining her energy and health.

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This does not mean she became a health food nut…she describes herself as simply a food nut, and a “flavor first cook” with a gourmet rather than a health food point of view.  In her words, “…I eat blueberries because they taste good, not for the antioxidants they contain.”  I really relate to this, because I try to eat as healthfully as I can and consider the nutritional value of the ingredients I use – but what’s the point of cooking something that ultimately you won’t eat because it doesn’t taste good?

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To that end, the recipes are geared for maximum flavor, emphasizing the use of fresh seasonal produce and the best quality proteins and dairy.  Key to maximizing each bowl is the sauce that goes with it. The sauces are placed within specific recipes but can be used interchangeably with the recipes.  Carolynn suggests putting some swirls of sauce on the bottom of your bowl so that the grains are touching them.  More sauce?  Who would argue with that?

There are so many recipes I want to make from this book!  Huevos Rancheros, Korean Short Rib and Butternut Squash Risotto bowls sound delightfully comforting for cool weather days, and Dark Chocolate Farro Goop with Toasted Walnuts and Steamed Cream…well, enough said!  Carolynn also shows how easy it is to create Middle Eastern and Mexican Build Your Own Bowl tables, which are perfect for picky eaters, parties, and yes…football (bowl) game watching!

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I chose the Spiced Apple Breakfast Farro for this post…another dish that sounds perfect for a chilly autumn morning.  The temps here have actually been over 100 for the last couple of weeks, so I took Carolynn’s advice that even the breakfast bowls were great for any time of day, and tried it cold for lunch.  True to her recommendation, it was great!  (I’m still counting the days until I can eat this hot for breakfast, though…) The recipe was very easy to put together. Slice the apples, cook the farro, add the apples and cook a little longer, then spoon into bowls and top with a simple yogurt cream.

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Carloynn encourages us to adapt the recipes to our taste, and so I made a couple of changes. I added a teaspoon of apple pie spice instead of the cinnamon and cloves.  I used my favorite vanilla yogurt mixed with a couple of spoonfuls of pumpkin puree in place of the sour cream, and I sprinkled some beautiful red walnuts on top; they added gorgeous color and the texture was a lovely compliment to the farro, apples and yogurt.

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Do give this recipe a try – you’re going to want this book for sure. Be forewarned … like Carolynn and now myself, you may become addicted to shopping for bowls to add to your collection!  Enjoy, y’all!

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Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits. ~ Samuel Butler

Connect with Carolyn:           ~         Bowls of Plenty  on Facebook ~                                                 On Twitter and Instagram: @carolynncarreno

Spiced Apple Breakfast Farro from Bowls of Plenty
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Say "good morning!" to fall with a delicious breakfast bowl packed with apples, warm spices and nutritious farro, topped with yogurt and walnuts!
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2 apples
  • 5-10 whole cloves, or a pinch of ground cloves (optional)
  • 6 cups fresh apple cider or apple juice (the cloudier the better), plus more as needed
  • 1 cinnamon stick, or ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ cups farro, rinsed*
  • Yogurt Cream:
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. sugar (or whatever sweetener you like; optional)
  1. Peel the apples and cut each one into 4 slabs around the core, removing the core in one piece.
  2. If you're using whole cloves, stud the cloves into one of the apple cores.
  3. Thinly slice the apple slabs.
  4. Put the apple cider, cinnamon stick, clove-studded apple core (or ground cinnamon and cloves), and salt in a medium saucepan.
  5. Bring the cider to a boil over high heat.
  6. Add the farro, reduce the heat slightly, and gently boil until the farro is tender, 15-20 minutes.
  7. Add the sliced apples and cook for 5 minutes so they soften but not so long that they turn into applesauce.
  8. Remove and discard the apple core and cinnamon stick, if you used them.
  9. Spoon the farro into four bowls**, dollop the cream on top, arrange some of the apples on top, and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  10. Serve and enjoy.
  11. For the Yogurt Cream: stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl. The cream will last for one week, refrigerated.
*To make this recipe gluten free, make it with whole grain groats instead of farro.
**You may have extra cider that wasn't absorbed into the farro; pour it out before serving.
To make this dairy-free, serve with nut or grain milk or some of the cider poured over instead of the yogurt cream.


Disclaimer: Melissa’s Produce provided a copy of Bowls of Plenty for me to cook with and review.  I was not compensated in any other way, and all the opinions expressed are my own.

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