Poke-Inspired Beet Bowl

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Poke seems to be everywhere these days, from fine restaurant menus, to fast-casual and even food trucks. Chefs are coming up with clever combos and creative reinterpretations – even fish-free versions for the veg set. I knew had to take a stab at it. Or at least a poke. Sorry.

For those of you hearing about poke for the first time, this fresh and tasty dish (pronounced POH-kay), hails from Hawaii. In its most unadulterated form, poke is raw fish, originally combined with sea salt, candlenut and seaweed. It evolved over the years as ingredient availability increased, and the salt was replaced with soy sauce, the seaweed with spring onion, the candlenut with sesame and so on. Once it hit mainland America a few years ago, poke mania ensued and the dish evolved to become more of a meal – not just a snack. Now it is often served atop rice and garnished with all manner of innovative ingredients. Fully-focused poke restaurants have established themselves in major cities across North America. Many of these eateries allow their patrons to customize their bowls with veggies, sea weed, pickles, beans, nuts, and alt-grains, tapping into the to the fact that fast, fresh, healthy meals are becoming mainstream. Which totally rocks.

I had most of the elements for my own poke-inspired version in my head…except for the fish (the most important part?). I racked my brain to come up with something that looked just like tuna or salmon, but didn’t want to use fruit, like watermelon or papaya, since I didn’t want the dish to be sweet. It wasn’t until I was trying to fall asleep one night, that it came to me…chiogga beets! Chiogga, or candy-striped beets are gorgeously two-toned when they are raw. Sliced thin horizontally, they reveal rings of deep pink pigment and creamy white, resembling something that your grandmother keeps on her coffee table in a crystal dish. But for anyone who has ever roasted these stunning creatures will know that the magic doesn’t last; the magenta bleeds into the white during cooking, resulting in an almost homogenous pale pink, with slight variegation. WHICH LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE TUNA. I almost couldn’t sleep. Too excited.

The next day I gathered up all the things I’d like in a poke bowl: short grain brown rice (not long grain – an important distinction), spring onion for bite, carrot for crunch, edamame for pop and protein, and avo for creaminess. I took this last one a step farther and blended it with lemon and wasabi for the most boss sauce ever. This alone would be delish on most things…please try it. And for the fishy component, I thought back to the raw vegan “tuna” I made for my first cookbook, and how effective adding a sprinkle of nori was to boost that fresh-from-the-sea flavour. This is not a deal breaker for the overall dish, but it definitely made it taste complete. If you can’t find nori flakes, just crunch up a couple sheets of the stuff that you’d use to make sushi. Easy fix!

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I like to use wasabi powder in the avo cream since the pre-made stuff in a tube is questionable. Have you ever read the ingredient list on one of those packages? It can be scary stuff. In a pinch, use it, but tracking down the powder is worth it from a nutrition standpoint, and also a flavour one. The real stuff tastes infinitely better! What a shocker.

Wasabi is Japanese horseradish, and like its western counterpart, it belongs to the Brassica family, like cabbage, broccoli and mustard. The root is dried and then pulverized, which gives us the powder that we can blend with water to create wasabi paste. It is a difficult crop to grow, which explains the high price for the genuine product. Most wasabi powders don’t contain any wasabi at all, but are instead a mix of mustard powder and regular horseradish mixed with green food dye. A high-quality wasabi powder should be organic and contain only horseradish and wasabi. The colour should be pale green – not disco neon. Most health food stores carry wasabi powder. This is a good brand.

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Everything unfolded just as I’d hoped it would. The beets came out perfectly pink with those thin white stripes that look just like fat striation. The marinade that I tossed them around in was acidic and ginger-y and just plain yum. Building the meal up with the rice, the beans, the veggies, a dollop of cream, a sprinkle of nori and roasted sesame, was ever so satisfying and fun. This healthy, fresh meal is calling you. No need to poke about, just make it. Again, sorry.



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I’m on my last few days of the North American tour now. Honestly, it’s been just magical and I am so grateful to all of you who came out to show some love and connect with the healthy community around them!

I have just one more event left, and if you’re in LA, please come to The Springs tomorrow! I’ll be giving a lecture on Improving Immunity, Digestion and Detoxification, serving a delicious lunch, and launching a recipe collaboration with their chef! Hope to see you there.

All love and smiles,
Sarah B

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