Get in on the poke bowl trend without paying a fortune for sodium-heavy restaurant creations.

By Christy Brissette, RD

If you somehow managed to miss this bit of foodie news, poke bowls are a thing-a big thing. This Hawaiian staple dish features raw fish marinated in a delicious sauce, usually served on a bed of rice. They're popping up on menus everywhere. There are even restaurants entirely devoted to crafting creative poke bowl recipes of your lunchtime dreams.

Think of the ingredients of a poke bowl like a deconstructed sushi roll. There's a big difference between salmon + cucumber + brown rice and spicy tuna + avocado with shrimp tempura on top, right? Some restaurant versions have more than 700 calories and 1600mg of sodium-more than your recommended amount of salt for the entire day. (What's worse? Sugar or salt?)

Make sure yours is healthy by steering clear of added sodium (ask about what's in the marinade and extra sauces) and ask for brown rice when available. Check out these other useful tips to design a healthy poke bowl.

Hold the mayo: Poke simply tastes better without this creamy factor. Avoiding mayo will also help keep calories low.

Limit the oil: Using a small amount of sesame oil helps you get plenty of flavor without needing to drown your poke bowl in oil. You're already getting healthy fats from the salmon.

Control your portion of rice or noodles: Some restaurants will serve you 2 cups of rice or more. For a lighter meal, keep your starch to no more than 1 cup.

Load up on vegetables: Avoid a bowl that's just fish, rice, and sauce. Load it up with fiber and phytochemicals from colorful veggies.

Experiment with different bases: Rice is the classic pairing with poke, but you can also try other ingredients as the base for your bowl. Try black rice, quinoa, buckwheat noodles, brown rice noodles, zoodles, yam noodles, or kelp noodles. (So, is seaweed the next big superfood or what?)

Put these tips to work by making your own at home with this super-healthy sesame salmon poke bowl recipe. The salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids for brain and heart health. It's gluten-free, light on sodium, and high in protein, with no added sugars. Plus, it pretty much tastes like you're in Hawaii, so it's a win-win.

Sesame Salmon Poke Bowl

Makes 2 servings


For the poke marinade

  • 1/2 pound sushi-grade salmon, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the poke bowl

  • 1/2 cup brown rice, raw (or 1 cup cooked)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas sliced into 1/4-inch pieces


  • 2 nori sheets, sliced into ribbons
  • 1/2 green onion, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)


  1. In a medium bowl, combine all of the poke marinade ingredients. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put poke in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  2. To assemble the bowl, cook brown rice (or other "base" if using). Divide your base and all other ingredients between 2 bowls. Stir up the salmon mixture to recombine the flavors. Spoon salmon poke onto your base.
  3. Sprinkle on desired toppings.

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