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Healthy You

Poke Bowls Can Be Nutritional Powerhouses

Thursday, March 07, 2019 2:28 PM
Tags: recipe,food

Tuna Poke Bowl

Poke rose to popularity a few years ago in the U.S. and then worldwide.  This tiny dish from Hawaii has been spotted in New York City all the way to London.  Possibly part of its popularity is that it’s a relatively “blank slate” that chefs can put their own spin on.  Lori Bumbaco, Oncology Dietitian at the Kellogg Cancer Center at NorthShore shares her version of a healthy poke bowl you can make right at home.

Makes 4 bowls


1 pound sushi grade ahi tuna, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos*
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
1/3 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
2 cups brown rice or wild rice*, cooked

Suggested Toppings:
Salad greens, carrots, cucumber, avocado, shelled edamame, pickled ginger, and shitake mushrooms*.

*See the reasoning behind the options below.


  • In a medium-sized bowl combine ahi tuna, soy sauce or coconut aminos, rice vinegar, sesame oil, crushed red pepper flakes, green onions and sesame seeds.
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate covered for up to 2 hours before serving. Toss to recombine in the sauce before serving.
  • Layer cooked rice into the bottom of the bowl.
  • Arrange in groups around the bowl any or all of the suggestions in the ingredients section.
  • Top with additional sesame seeds and crushed red pepper.

Looking to trim sodium? Substitute coconut aminos, which offer a lower-sodium alternative with an umami flavor.

Why brown rice? Did you know that refining grains, for example, white rice, takes away half to two-thirds of a wide range of nutrients?  Brown rice has significantly greater amounts of magnesium, fiber, potassium and several B vitamins.  

What about wild rice? To take the poke bowl to the next level with a whole grain, consider wild rice. Research has shown a greater content of antioxidants, which function to combat diseases like cancer. Wild rice also packs quite the nutritious punch being slightly higher in protein than most other whole grains, and is a good source of fiber, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, Vitamin B6 and niacin.

Why mushrooms? The most nourishing poke bowls are loaded with vegetables.  A great addition is mushrooms, which are low in calories, high in vitamins and minerals.  Different mushrooms contain varying amounts of potassium, selenium, and copper.  All mushrooms provide three B vitamins: riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, which help release energy from food.  

Inspired by: Jessica Gavin