Are those delicious poke bowls good for us?
Which base should I choose for my Poke Bowl?
Every good poke bowl – well actually, every poke bowl – starts with the base. Here, one commonly chooses between brown rice, sushi rice, soba noodles, quinoa and cabbage. Debenham and Parker rate them from ‘healthiest’ to ‘maybe not every time’:
Adding a wholegrain base such as brown rice to your poke bowl is a great option as it helps to leave you feeling fuller – i.e. you’ll be less likely to reach for an extra something something to satisfy your hunger.
Brown rice is richer in fibre, B vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium and copper [than white or sushi rice], so it’s the healthier option to go for.
There are SO many benefits to eating quinoa. It’s low GI, high in fibre and is higher in protein compared to other whole grains.
It’s also super easy to cook, just as you would rice! This is one of the bases we’d usually go for – we sometimes even mix it together with brown rice!
The rice used to make sushi often contains added sugars to help it stick, so we’d generally recommend steering clear of this one on a regular basis.
While it’s OK to enjoy every now and then, there are healthier options available that you could go for.”
Which protein should I choose for my poke bowl?
‘Clean’ proteins are what Poke Bowls are all about.
Salmon or tuna sashimi
Sashimi is a great source of lean protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. In terms of raw versus cooked fish, this really comes down to personal preference. From a nutritional point of view, they are going to be very similar. We love the texture and taste of raw sashimi in our poke bowls, so we usually opt for this.
Tofu is made by curdling soy milk, pressing it into a solid block and then cooling it. It is a great source of protein and iron, which is especially important for vegetarians.
Some people are often worried about eating soy products because they are concerned about a possible increased risk of breast cancer. This is based on the theory that soy contains compounds called isoflavones that mimic the hormone oestrogen and breast cancer risk is increased with high levels of oestrogen.
The research shows that isoflavones in the diet do not cause or increase the risk of developing the disease, and therefore it is safe to consume soy products.
Are all the Poke Bowl vegetables ‘healthy’?
Unsurprisingly, there are no ‘bad’ veggies in Debenham and Parker’s minds. So go on and load your Poke Bowl up with ’em. Here’s what they said:
Raw and cooked veggies both provide an excellent array of nutrients. Cooking veggies can reduce certain nutrients, while increasing others. For example vitamin C, thiamin and folate are all water soluble vitamins, which means they dissolve in water when cooked (meaning less in the veggies). This loss is minimal and should not put people off eating cooked vegetables. Some nutrients actually become more bioavailable when cooked (like phytochemicals), which means the body is more able to absorb them. This occurs with vegetables such as carrots and asparagus.
As for which veggies to choose?
Carrots are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body. This is important because vitamin A is not widely distributed in foods. Vitamin A is important for eye health and good vision. This is why carrots got their reputation for helping you to see in the dark.
The vibrant purple colour of beetroot has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure. Beetroots are one of the best sources of dietary nitrates. These are converted to nitric oxide in the body, which in turn helps to relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
These will ALWAYS feature in our poke bowls! Not only are they a good way to bump up the protein and fibre content of your poke bowl they add a delicious crunch and also make them look amazing.
Kimchi is fermented cabbage that is thickly cut and often served with a variety of condiments such as chilli, garlic, pepper and fish sauce. Kimchi is a source of probiotics (healthy bacteria found in our gut). A diet rich in probiotics can help to improve our health by reducing the number of harmful bacteria that may survive in our gut.
Radishes are often the ingredient that make poke bowls look oh so beautiful. Radishes are a very good source of vitamin C and have powerful flavonoids such as zeaxanthin, lutein and beta-carotene.
Which Poke Bowl dressing is the healthiest?
This is where our healthy intentions can come unstuck, our dietitians warn. So brace yourself for some bad-ish news:
Keep in mind that even just a small amount soy can bump up the sodium content. Just one tablespoon contains one third of the upper recommendation for our daily salt intake.
We love the roasted sesame dresses as they taste delicious, however, they can increase the overall calorie content a little. If you do go for a sauce like this, just keep an eye out on how much there is and be careful not to go overboard.
Lemon and extra virgin olive oil
Lemon and extra virgin olive oils are your best option – they are an excellent choice as they pack lots of flavour and nutrients.