This Hawaiian dish is pronounced POE-Kay and is the new culinary trend on many people’s radars.
Traditionally, it consists of a combination of vegetables, seasonings, oil, rice, and diced raw fish – including snapper, tuna, or salmon.
Oftentimes, the dish is the one-stop option for anyone looking for a healthy lunch, however, do you know how many calories each portion contains?
With this in mind, this article examines everything you need to know about poke and how many calories you can expect in a bowl.
Let’s get started.
Brief Poke History
The dish’s origins can be traced back to its humble beginnings as a fisherman’s meal – which consisted of raw fish – which had been caught that day –, seaweed, and seasonings.
Since then, poke has spread all around the world – gaining regional influences that have given the dish a complete transformation.
From sesame oil, soy sauce, and nori paper to nuts, spicy sauce, and dried fruits, poke is a clear representation of a melting pot of flavors from around the globe.
Plus, the trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, either – you can find poke bars dotted throughout large cities and even a few in the suburbs.
If you’re looking for a quick yet nutritious lunch, it is a good option for many. In fact, many restaurants provide you with a customizable experience where you can build your own poke bowl.
Is Poke Healthy?
The healthiness of your poke bowl is typically determined by the ingredients found within it. Plus, your preferences and personal health requirements, too.
Contains A Lot Of Nutrient-Dense Foods
Even though poke is generally a very customizable dish, the main ingredients you’ll find are fish and vegetables – two foods that are typically considered very nutritious.
Some additional ingredients you can find in a poke bowl consist of garlic, avocado, carrots, and onions – all of which are packed with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber – all of which come together to contribute to your health.
Likewise, fish are a great source of unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and protein – which is important when it comes to reducing inflammation and ensuring the brain is functioning properly and the heart is healthy.
However, these ingredients usually sit on a bed of white rice – which is a highly processed grain and doesn’t contain much fiber. When consumed in excess amounts, it can contribute to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Therefore, if you frequently enjoy a poke bowl, then it may be beneficial to swap the white rice with brown rice or other bases that are rich in fiber, such as cauliflower rice, quinoa, or barley.
Poke Bowl Calories
Generally speaking, the average poke bowl can contain between 500-1000 calories.
As you can see, this is a huge range. Therefore, if you’re following a strict diet, you’ll want your bowl to be on the lower end of the scale.
When you take into account that the average total calorie consumption is 2000 kcals, around 700 of those calories should come from your midday meal.
The issue here isn’t your choice of fish – as tuna and salmon generally have the same calorific profiles – instead, it lies in the dressing.
For instance, one serving of creamy dressing can contribute around 200-300 kcals to your meal. This drowns your once-healthy meal into something that is packed with saturated fat and excess calories.
Be Aware Of The Sauce
When it comes to calories, it’s not so much the case of what’s inside the bowl, but rather what you put on it.
While there are many sauces and seasonings that are relatively low in fat and calories, there are some major culprits, too.
For instance, you can opt for a white, creamy, mayo-based sauce that contains a garlicky or herb flavor, such as aioli.
These are known to change the flavor of your poke bowl – however, for the worse.
Moreover, you could opt for a soy or shoyu-based dressing. These are generally more liquid in consistency and contain lower amounts of fat. However, they are higher in salt.
This is something you should be aware of if you suffer from high blood pressure. When used sparingly, it can help to enhance the raw ingredient’s flavors.
When it comes to ensuring you’re making healthy poke choices, you don’t need to be a math wizard to count up the calories.
Instead, a good basic rule of thumb is to ensure all the contents of your poke fit into your cupped hand. Plus, stay away from cream-based sauces!
Making Your Poke Bowls Healthier
Adjusting your poke bowl to meet your health or dietary preferences couldn’t be easier. Here, all you would have to do is make the correct modifications to your ingredient.
For instance, you can make it lighter in calories by including more vegetables and less soy sauce and oil.
Plus, you can opt to replace the white rice base with whole grains, such as quinoa and barley, or you can use other grain-free alternatives such as edamame noodles, kelp salad, or zucchini spirals.
Also, you should keep in mind that while poke bowls typically consist of fish, you can make a vegan version that doesn’t contain any animal products.
For example, you can substitute fish for protein-rich tempeh, tofu, or seitan that is made using wheat gluten.
On the other hand, you can even opt for fish that is lower in mercury, like cod, salmon, trout, or catfish.
When making healthy choices, poke bowls can be eaten as part of a balanced diet.
Depending on the ingredients you add to your bowl will influence the number of calories it contains.
For instance, the average bowl will have between 500-1000 calories. To keep it on the smaller end of the spectrum, you’ll need to be conscious of the added ingredients.
Hopefully, this guide has informed you on everything you need to know about poke bowls and their calorie content.
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