Excerpted from a Judy E. Buss article, first published in the Sun Coast Media Group Newspapers.
Healthy Food That Swims!
Seafood is an important component of a healthful diet. Packed to the gills with nutrition, it is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and iodine. Omega 3 fatty acids, present in abundance in seafood, are vital to good health. They boost the immune system, brain function (including memory), and skin health. They help bypass heart disease, prevent cancer, are anti-inflammatory, and can also help relieve arthritic symptoms, and asthma. In fact, many health practitioners recommend fish oil supplements to individuals with certain health conditions.
Marine food sources with the most significant amounts of Omega 3 are krill, sardines, anchovies, catfish, tuna, herring, salmon, and mackerel. Shellfish, such as shrimp, crab, mussels, and lobster offer less of the beneficial fat. Seafood is not limited to fish and shellfish. Nutrition-rich sea vegetables - a staple of Asian cuisine - have become more popular in the U.S. Sushi, seaweed noodles, wraps and soups made from these vegetables are now served in many restaurants, and sold in supermarkets and health food stores. Some of the vegetables are: dulce, nori, wakame, spirulina and chlorella. They are also used for their powerful medicinal value.
There is a catch however: many lakes, rivers, and seas are contaminated with industrial pollutants. To minimize ingestion of these toxins when consuming fish and shellfish, opt for the smaller species. Their shorter lifespan and position in the food chain prevent a significant toxic buildup in their bodies. The same applies to farm-raised fish; the smaller types contain a smaller amount of pollutants, as well as hormones and antibiotics. Eating a variety of seafood in rotation also helps. Fish skin should be discarded as this is where the bulk of toxins are stored.
For cooking seafood, think outside the frying-pan! Frying any food is extremely unhealthy: the intense heat during the frying process alters the oil chemistry to become cancer-promoting. In addition, frying diminishes the Omega 3 potency, and also requires using large amounts of oil, a fact which increases the food’s caloric count.
Numerous scrumptious dishes can be made with frozen (thawaed) or fresh marine-based food, by baking, grilling, poaching or cooking soups and chowders. Because all seafood cooks faster than it takes to change a light bulb in your microwave, you can prepare fabulously tasting dishes in literally minutes! Get your fishing gear ready, and let’s dive into a tsunami of marine cuisine! Flavor is on the menu: bon appétit!
NOTE: The recipes below can be multiplied as needed.
FISHY PITA FILLING
4-ounce can kippered (smoked) herring fillets
2 carrots, grated
1-1/2 apples, cored, chopped
1 cup alfalfa sprouts or shredded Romaine lettuce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 whole wheat or multi grain pita bread, warmed
1. In a medium bowl mix all the ingredients, except pitas. Cut each pita in half. Carefully open and fill each pocket.
4 ounces tilapia or catfish fillet
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Rinse the fish and place in a skillet skin-side-down. Wash hands. Add 1/4-inch deep water. The water should not cover the fish.
2. In a cup, mix the lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the lemon sauce over the fish and evenly spread it with the back of a spoon.
3. Cover and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, and cook until the fish is tender at its thickest part, about 15 minutes. Drain and serve.
Keep the doctor away – deliciously!