If you are not a fish lover, you may find it difficult to get the recommended 2-3 servings of fish per week. If you are cutting back on red meat and you don’t like fish, chances are you are subsisting mainly on chicken. Variety is so important to maintain a healthy balance of nutrients and to avoid meal making burnout. Fish is an excellent solution for a busy family because it can be inexpensive, very fast to cook and very nutritious.
Most varieties of fish are high in protein and low in fat. Even the higher fat fish varieties contain a highly regarded type of fat called Omega-3 fats. You may have heard of Omega-3 fats in relation to flax seed, nuts and omega eggs. There appears to be a relationship between this remarkable type of fat, thinner blood and reduction in inflammation. Those suffering from arthritis, sports injuries or just everyday aches and pains may benefit from including some sources of Omega-3 fats in your diet.
The Omega fats particularly found in fish have been shown to reduce triglycerides (a risk factor for heart disease) and dramatically improve your chances of survival if you suffer from a heart attack. Studies done on Inuits who consume very high levels of Omega-3 laden whale blubber show almost no heart disease or arthritis…. I don’t remember seeing whale blubber at my local grocery store however 3 servings of fatty fish per week will suffice. If the thought of that much fish makes you want to hold your nose there are a few solutions you can try. Fish has very little odour if buy it fresh and cook it right away.
The white fish varieties also have a lighter flavour (halibut, … If you are willing to splurge you can get orange roughy, seabass or smoked salmon. All 3 of these varieties have a lovely rich flavor without the strong fishy smell. An excellent snack or quick breakfast is a piece of toast with light cream cheese, smoked salmon and sliced cucumbers. Unfortunately you will do little for your heart by buying battered fried fish. It is so high in unhealthy fats from the deep frying you will offset the benefits of the fish inside. If you like your fish crusty and crispy, there are some “baked” fish sticks on the market that may even make it past your kids.
One of my favorite recipes covers the flavor of the fish with a delicious crust of crushed walnuts. Put together with a tangy peach salsa, omega-3 fats never tasted so good! Next week give the poor poultry a rest and dazzle your taste buds with something different. Simply keep experimenting with fish recipes and you’ll eventually find some family favorites that taste great AND contribute to your health.
Walnut Crusted White Fish with Fruit Salsa
1 lb sea bass or any firm white fish cut into 4oz servings
1 cup of plain yogurt or buttermilk
½ tsp Tabasco sauce
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
¼ tsp salt
1 large shallot finely chopped
1 can diced green chilies (optional)
2Tbs chopped cilantro leaves (found with the fresh parsley at your grocery store)
1 large can of peaches packed in juice, drained and diced
½ cup ground or crushed walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread out crushed walnuts on a plate or shallow dish, set aside. Combine yogurt or buttermilk and Tabasco sauce. Dip the fish pieces in the solution to leave a thin coating. Press each piece of fish into the crushed walnuts to coat each side evenly. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake in at 400 F for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and fish flakes with a fork.
2. Prepare peach salsa by combining lime juice and salt in a bowl until dissolved. Stir in shallots, chillies (if used) and cilantro. Add peaches and stir.
Serve salsa beside fish with rice or a salad. Per serving: 350 calories, 13g fat (only 2g saturated fat), 31g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 5g fibre, 408mg sodium.
Heidi Smith is a Registered Dietitian from the Health and Performance Centre at the University of Guelph. For more healthy recipes visit her website at www.heidismithnutrition.com