Paleo Tuna Poke Bowl

How does a poke bowl sound right about now?  

Let’s start with what it is, exactly: Poke is a raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine, and sometimes as a main course (1).

When out and about, it can be tough to find viable options that will fit into your authentic paleo regime, so when something does come across our radar, it’s easy to jump right in.

But before you pick up your chopsticks, it’s worth taking the time to consider a few key factors.

In this case of the poke bowl, let’s call them the three “S’s”

Where exactly is the tuna coming from? In the US, we’re spoiled these days; we can purchase organic blueberries from Chile in the middle of winter and grass-fed lamb from New Zealand. Sure, “organic” and “grass-fed” are two descriptors we want to strive for, but to ignore from where they came would be remiss. Similarly, unless you happen to be physically located somewhere that wild tuna actually swims, not considering the carbon footprint of eating tuna is irresponsible. In addition, even if you are in Hawaii or Fiji, be mindful not to overdo the consumption of this big fish; putting oneself at risk for mercury contamination is serious business (2).

An authentic preparation of the sauce used to prepare poke includes soy sauce. Don’t make the mistake of thinking gluten-free soy sauce is a viable alternative. Even Tamari contains soy and soy is one of the most inflammatory food byproducts we can eat (3).

The other key ingredient in a poke bowl is rice.  Despite it being a gluten-free grain, it’s still a grain and as such, still inflammatory, contributing to leaky gut.

So does this all mean that the idea of eating a poke bowl must become ancient history??

Not by a long shot!

With a few tweaks, you can easily create your own version and not just at home, but even when dining out.

Here’s how:

  1. Determine the sourcing and find creative alternatives.   While wild salmon would not be as authentic in terms of mimicking the original version of a poke bowl, if you’re in Oregon and it’s coho season, keeping it local best serves everyone- the fish, the planet and us!
  2. Peruse the menu, or the market for alternatives to the traditional bowl of rice. Any leafy green, finely shredded and tossed with olive oil and lime then tossed with avocado chucks makes for a deliciously savory bed for fresh, sashimi grade fish.
  3. Last but not least, the big question: H  how can you call it a poke bowl if there’s no poke sauce? Easy!  Skip the soy sauce and focus on flavors made from healthier options commonly found in island cuisine:  sesame, ginger and even Chinese 5-spice.

Not convinced?

See for yourself: test out my simple recipe for DIY Poke Bowl recipe that is, geared toward what you have in your very own backyard.


  •    1 pound wild, local, sashimi grade fish (check MSC for your best options)
  •    1 bunch collard greens
  •    1 bunch kale
  •    Freshly squeezed lime juice
  •    2 Tablespoons olive oil
  •    Sesame oil to taste
  •    2 tsp sesame seeds
  •    2 sheets Nori


  1. Dice fish into 1/2” cubes
  2. Wash collards and kale and roll sideways to form a roll
  3. Thinly slice to create ribbon shape
  4. Place in large, flat bowl
  5. Combine lime juice and olive oil with sesame oil
  6. Reserve half and pour other half over leaves
  7. Combine diced fish with remaining half
  8. Portion into four plates
  9. Garnish with sesame seeds and torn piece of Nori
  10.  Serve immediately

Thyroid health boosting tip:  adding some seaweed into your repertoire is the best way to incorporate dietary iodine.   Why does this matter? In order to keep our thyroid healthy, we need to balance out the sulfur we get from all the crucifers and we achieve this by adding in iodine, from sea veggies, the #1 best choice!






About Nell Stephenson, B.S.

Nell Stephenson, B.S.Nell Stephenson is a competitive Ironman athlete, personal trainer, and a health and nutrition consultant. She has an exercise science degree from the University of Southern California, a health/fitness instructor certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, and over a decade in the health, fitness and nutrition industry. To support her training for the Ironman Triathlon, Nell has tried many different nutritional plans and has found that the Paleo Diet is superior to all other ways of eating. She’s found that she’s leaner, faster, and fitter than ever before and uses her own experience to teach clients how to achieve optimal nutrition and health. Visit her website at Download meal plans tailored to you here.

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