This bowl is loaded with healthy foods, vibrant colors and layers of sweet and spicy flavors. Sweet potatoes, beans, spinach, and quinoa are tied together with citrus sour cream sauce. Eat each component on its own or all together. It’s a bowl for everybody!


Building bowls is kind of like combining leftovers to create a whole new meal. You take small amounts of many things and mix them together.

For this recipe you will roast sweet potatoes, sauté spinach, cook quinoa, and toast seeds. This may seem like a lot, but every component is cooked in the same two pans, which saves time on clean up. Better still is that bowls are a great make-ahead meal. Do a little prep work on the weekend and you can assemble bowls for dinner on a weeknight or lunch all week long.

When making nourishing bowls like this, I like to get everything ready ahead of time, and group them by element. For example, I will peel and cube my sweet potatoes and have all the spices mixed in a bowl nearby. I do the same for the black beans.


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You may ask yourself, what’s a pepita and where might I find one? Pepitas are green, hulless seeds from a specific type of squash called an Oil Seed Pumpkin. The seeds are used to make pumpkin seed oil or to eat out of hand similar to sunflower seeds.

You can find them in the health food bulk bin section at your local grocery store. If you can’t find pepitas, feel free to substitute sunflower seeds and eliminate the toasting step.


You may also wonder about quinoa, which is actually a seed even though it’s often referred to as a grain.

From time to time, I encounter people who don’t like quinoa. They usually tell me it tastes bitter to them, and for good reason. Quinoa’s natural coating, saponin, tastes bitter.

Some companies sell it pre-washed and others don’t, which is why you may have tried it once and liked it but had it another time and hated it.

The fix for bitter quinoa is simple. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under running water for a minute to remove the coating, thereby making you a happy eater of fluffy, non-bitter seeds (which happen to be gluten free and loaded with protein).


Bowls make great family meals, especially for those with kids who would prefer the beans not touch the potatoes (for shame!). Kids can eat each component separately on a plate while the adults eat everything combined in a bowl. You’re still making only one meal, but everyone’s actually happy! Yay!

That being said, bowls aren’t just for families. They are great for busy professionals who are tired of prepackaged microwave dinners and late afternoon vending machine runs.

Less than an hour of prep work on Sunday provides a healthy lunch for four of the next five work days. Toss it in your snazzy lunch bag (I know you have one) and reheat for quick midday meals throughout the week!

As written, this recipe is vegetarian, but feel free to cook up some chicken or use leftover proteins from other meals and add them to your bowl. Anything goes!


  • Roasted Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowls
  • Black Bean Burrito Bowl
  • Grilled Shrimp Taco Bowl
  • Salmon Avocado Poke Bowl
  • Black Rice Bowls with Tofu and Veggies


For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot Sauce or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon water

For the quinoa:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the pepitas:

  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the sweet potatoes:

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into ½ inch cubes.
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the black beans:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lime juice

For the spinach:

  • 8 ounces baby spinach, two large handfuls per person
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the garnish:

  • 2 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
  • Lime wedges
  • Chopped fresh cilantro


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