Food & Nutrition

Are Poke Bowls Healthy

Are Poke Bowls Healthy

Are poke bowls healthy? Poke bowls generally contain healthy ingredients like fish and vegetables. However, it’s important to know other essential ingredients and it preparation for a healthy consumption.

What are Poke Bowls

Poke bowls are made from raw marinated fish which is typically Ahi or Yellow fin tuna, that is cubed and layered up with a satisfying serving of sticky rice and power-packed pickles. It’s also sashimi or ceviche in a bowl. In NYC, for example, trendy veggie alternatives such as cauli rice and zoodles are used as base layers. Poke also pronounced as  “poke-ay”, in Hawaiian and the name is gotten from the food preparation.

Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian. Although most people know that poke is a Hawaiian national dish but only few know it was ‘invented’ by fishermen, who would season the cut-offs from their daily catch (Pohkay) while they stayed on their boats and eat them. Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish usually tuna which is tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and umami-packed sauces.

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The customizable dish is ubiquitous in Hawaii. It is a very common dish in Hawaiian which is found everywhere from gas stations to roadside stands and you have the power to pick out the kind of poke you want and get it to go in a Styrofoam container. ”Poke bowls is one of the newest way to eat fresh seafood in Hawaiian culinary traditions and poke literally means to cut something.

Are Poke Bowls Healthy
Are Poke Bowls Healthy

The chef will slice marinated, normally uncooked seafood and mix it with chunks of veggies. Drizzled on top is a savory umami or soybean paste-based sauce. Poke bowls brings a hint of healthiness and makes a beautiful meal that can be customize based on so many preferences. 

Ingredients Commonly Found in Poke Bowls

The most basic poke bowls include these ingredients;

  • A base (usually rice)
  • Sushi-grade salmon or tuna (typically cubed and raw)
  • Sesame oil
  • Asian toppings such as soy sauce and seaweed.

However, the options for making poke bowls are not limited to the above items so you can still substitute to cooked chicken, crab, tofu or just vegetables. You can also top the poke bowl with various vegetables like avocado, spicy mayo, sesame seeds and more.

Methods of Preparing a Poke Bowls

1. Fill a saucepan with water, place on heat and allow to boil. Add edamame beans and cook for 10-15 minutes, then drain (reserving the water), transfer to a small bowl, and set aside.

2. Return the reserved cooking liquid to the pan and bring to the boil again.

3. Add the kale, spinach, broccoli or other greens and cook for 5-8 minutes until the leaves are wilted or the broccoli begins to soften but still has some bite.

4. Slice the avocado in half, remove the stone and then score the flesh either into cubes or thin slices, lengthways. Scoop the flesh into a small serving bowl, sprinkle with salt, drizzle with lemon juice and then place in the fridge until ready to serve.

5. For the baked nori crisps, cut the nori sheets into sixths, to make six small rectangles. Place on a baking tray, brush with sesame oil and then sprinkle with the sesame seeds and a pinch of salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crisp and crunchy. For the seaweed salad, soak the seaweed in a bowl of water for 10-15 minutes, until it has tripled in size. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

6. Drain the seaweed and rinse it under cold water, then add it to the dressing and mix or massage the seaweed in with your hands to coat with the dressing and top with sesame seeds. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.

7. For the marinated mushrooms, place all the mushroom ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10-20 minutes, until the mushrooms soften and the sauce thickens. Transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

8. When all your components are ready, divide the cooked rice or grain among four bowls. Tuck the edamame beans into one corner of each bowl. Do the same with the grated vegetables, greens, avocado, marinated mushrooms and quickled cucumber, and finally arrange the seaweed salad in the centre of the bowl.

9. Serve the pickled ginger on the side and either serve the nori crisps on the side or tuck 1 or 2 into each bowl. This recipe is vegetarian but I’d encourage adding either fresh sashimi, smoked salmon, cooked fish or seafood, soft-boiled eggs for a truer.

Are Poke Bowls Healthy

Fish and vegetables earn top honors when it comes to healthy ingredients. But not all poke bowls have the same calorie, fat or carb count. How healthy a poke bowl is depends on the ingredients and how each one has been prepared. Overall, though, the poke bowl is one option when it comes to eating better. Poke bowls are highly customizable, which allows for better choices based on your personal preferences.

Poke bowl nutrition is derived from the base ingredient, protein items, sauces and toppings. A poke bowl base usually consists of rice, with protein choices of tuna, tofu, salmon and many more options. Sauces are an essential part of a poke bowl and can consist of wasabi mayo, eel sauce and dragon aioli. Poke bowl toppings are the last step and usually include crispy onions, cherry tomatoes, avocados, cashews and more.

Are poke bowls healthy
Are poke bowls healthy

A poke bowl’s calories depend on how the consumer make it. A healthy poke bowl is usually between 500-700 calories. This measurement can be applied to the typical poke bowl that includes rice, but be mindful of the toppings and sauces if you consider creating a low-calorie poke bowl. A healthy dish has more than just a low calorie count, a regular poke also has about 24 grams of protein and vitamins B12, C, and D, magnesium, potassium, folate, iron, manganese, zinc, and niacin.

Poke is a Calorie-friendly Dish. Something into your plate, one bowl of poke contains less than 500 calories. You further reduce those calories by making certain good and healthy ingredient choices. Note: Healthier poke bowls can be created by choosing a whole grain or vegetable base, limiting excess condiments, and either opting for lower mercury fish or a plant-based protein source.                           

How to make Poke Bowls Healthier

Poke bowls are a great option and they are usually high in lean protein, heart-healthy fats from fish, avocado and seeds and packed full of fibre from all the veggies and whole grains, additionally, it’s loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Poke has also been known and praised for its low-calorie, low-fat, and high-protein status whose raw fish base contains higher omega-3 content than most kinds of meat.

It’s also very easy to adjust the composition of your poke bowl to meet your dietary or health preferences. For instance, you could make it more vegetable-heavy and lighter in calories by including a larger portion of colorful veggies and using less added oil and soy sauce. The white rice base can be replaced with whole grains like barley or quinoa or a grain-free alternative like zucchini spirals, edamame noodles, or kelp salad.

Note: While the poke bowls are made with fish generally, one can also create vegan bowls that don’t use any animal products instead it can be substituted with protein-rich tofu, tempeh, or seitan that’s made from cooked wheat gluten. Alternatively, you might choose to include a fish that’s generally lower in mercury, such as salmon, cod, tilapia, catfish, or trout.

Poke bowls are also a great meal to include fermented foods like pickled vegetables or sauerkraut. Fermented foods are full of natural probiotics that may offer gut-health benefits and help fight inflammation, and strengthen the immune system.

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Poke Bowls Mistakes

Most people go wrong in making poke bowls by the sauce or sauces that they add, some are really mayonnaise-laden or some of the soy sauces can be really high in sodium. Choices like ponzu sauce, soy sauces, and even sriracha aioli are often going to contain more sodium. While not everyone is keeping a close eye on their sodium intake, those that are could easily go way over their daily limits with a trip to a poke shop.

To avoid making such mistake it is advisable to either make poke bowls at home where you will be in full control of the ingredients or making your own dressing by skipping the sauce and adding a little sesame oil and rice vinegar instead but if you love and enjoy that sriracha mayo, you may ask or use the half and typical serving so you can enjoy what you love without consuming excessive calories.

Conclusion

Poke bowls traditionally include rice, vegetables, raw fish, oil, and seasonings or condiments like soy sauce and while poke bowls are generally and commonly made with healthy ingredients, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of consuming a raw fish and ingredients that may not offer many nutrients, such as white rice and large amounts of oil or soy sauce.

Poke bowls generally contain healthy ingredients like fish and vegetables. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of eating raw fish, especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or immunocompromised. To create a healthier poke bowl, you may want to opt for a whole grain or vegetable base, limit excess oil and condiments, and choose a lower mercury variety of fish or plant-based protein.