With summer well on the way, it’s time to celebrate one of the easiest and most refreshing dishes to whip up on a steamy Sunday afternoon. Ready in just minutes, the humble poke bowl is your key to a nutritious and fun dish the whole family can get involved in creating.
Poke originates in Hawaii and the term itself means “to cut”, referring to the chopped-up fish that often accompanies a poke bowl. Of course, for your own rendition of this healthy classic you can skip or add any ingredients you fancy – let’s unpack the elements you’ll need to pull off the ultimate poke bowl.
Your choice of grain is the foundation of your poke bowl – so choose wisely! Unlike refined grains, which leave you unsatisfied and often dysregulate your blood sugars, whole grains are known for their slow-release energy, along with a number of other benefits:
- They help regulate blood sugar levels
- They’re higher in nutrients
- They support gut health due to their prebiotic content
Plus, these grains soak up any sauces, spices and seasonings in. your bowl, along with adding a bit of bulk to your meal to keep the wolf from the door. Here are a few to choose from for the base of your bowl:
- Brown rice
All of these grains boast something their refined counterparts lack – a hefty dose of fibre. With only 5% of us are getting enough of this nutrient, it’s no wonder so many are dealing with digestive issues like constipation and indigestion. We need fibre to keep our bowel movements regular and support healthy gut function – and where better to get your fix of the stuff than from cheap, tasty and satisfying whole grains? We only need 19 to 38 grams of fibre per day – to put that into perspective, just one cup of quinoa packs 5 grams of fibre. It’s also brimming with potassium and magnesium, coming in at 15% and 28%, of our daily needs for each, respectively. These nutrients are both essential for
You might want to include plant-based protein or a meat source here – yes, some of the other elements of your bowl will pack in some protein like your veggies and whole grains, but you’ll want a central feature to tie the dish together. Any of the following will work well:
- Meat or fish
As per Hawaiian tradition, poke bowls often include a fish like tuna or albacore, usually the cheaper sections such as the head or tail. This is then diced up into cubes – of course, if you’re keen to leave Nemo off your plate, there are a number of other alternatives to deck your bowl out with. Lentils or chickpeas are an exceptional choice of legume, boasting nearly a third of our daily protein needs and 15% of our calcium needs, these humble legumes are bursting with fibre, with research showing these tiny legumes benefit digestion. Not a bad reason to add some of these to your bowl!
What poke bowl would be complete without an element of crunch? This is the part where you can get creative – from fruit to nuts, you can’t go wrong here. Take a look at some of our favourite additions:
- Seeds and nuts: Peanuts, macadamias and sesame seeds are all tasty options to add a bit of crunch to your poke bowl – but any nut or seed will add flavour and nutrition.
Seaweed: From kelp to nori, seaweed adds a good dose of iodine and in some cases, vitamin D, so it’s worth adding this tasty sea plant to your bowl.
Fresh veggies: Cucumbers, carrots and celery all add a refreshing element of crunch.
- Fermented veggies: Pickles like ginger and gherkins pack a satisfying bite – and if you like it hot, now’s the time to add your chilli. A bit of kimchi or sauerkraut can also take your poke bowl to the next level of crunch – and heat.
Sauces and toppings
Just because tomato sauce and mayo are overloaded with sugar, doesn’t mean you can’t make your own mouth-watering sauces and dips for your bowl.
- Homemade mayo
- Homemade dressings
- Greek yoghurt
- Olive oil and lemon
Note: The firmer your protein source, the more powerful your sauce should be. For instance a fatty fish or a firm tofu can be accompanied by a spicy sriracha mayo, while more subtle protein sources may benefit from a milder, sweet chilli sauce or a simple olive oil, salt and lemon dressing.
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