It’s no secret that proper nutrition is a key component to feeling good and looking your best. With the official start of summer behind us, now is a great time to focus on making nutritious choices that will give you and your family the energy you need to keep up with a full calendar of summertime activities.
Thankfully, the USDA Dietary Guidelines, as illustrated by MyPlate, help Americans to decipher the most nutritious food choices. The MyPlate model recommends making half of your plate at each meal consist of fruits and vegetables and going lean with protein. Because Americans tend to consume more fats, saturated fats and cholesterol in their diets, the dietary guidelines also suggest varying the types of proteins consumed and including lean protein such as seafood twice a week.
For decades, health professionals have been recommending that families increase their seafood consumption. Seafood is one of those “hero foods” that packs a powerful amount of nutrients—including heart-healthy Omega 3s—and is a great lean protein option for those looking to slim down this summer. Plus, studies show that a diet containing omega-3 fatty acids, as found in seafood, offers several benefits for people of all ages including: enhancing brain growth and development, promoting heart health, decreasing blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels, lessening symptoms of depression and ADHD, improving arthritis and joint pain and even reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
As a registered dietitian and mom, I try to incorporate seafood into our family meals regularly. I found that serving our children seafood at an early age was key to developing their palates. Kid-friendly items such as fish sticks or bite size pieces of fish with dipping sauces, were a huge success.
Here are a few tips that will make it easier to eat seafood twice a week:
Keep it simple. Boost the flavors by adding a few herbs and spices such as dill, paprika, cumin, citrus juices or salsa.
Always keep seafood on hand. No time to run to the market? Stock you freezer with a variety of seafood. Frozen fish, such as Gorton’s, are frozen and packed immediately to seal in those great flavors for a little longer.
Be creative. Think outside of the box. Rather than serving up seafood fillets with a side of veggies, add seafood to salads, pastas, sandwiches, soups, etc.
Finally, to get you started eating this powerful food, I have included one of my favorite recipes! Ratatouille is a great meal-time solution that is packed with fresh summer vegetables and gives you a great way to enjoy your veggies when you are tiring of salads. Adding salmon to the ratatouille makes it even more nutrient-packed.
Salmon and Vegetable Ratatouille
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 boxes (6.3 ounces) Gorton’s Grilled Salmon Classic Grilled fillets (each box includes 2 fillets)
1 small eggplant, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, optional
1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced 1-inch thick
1 cup onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons (or to taste) dry Italian herb seasonings
1/2 tablespoon (or to taste) garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced Italian seasoned tomatoes
1/2 cup ripe black olives, sliced
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons white cooking wine
Prepare Gorton’s Grilled Salmon according to package directions; set aside. Once cooled, cut into chucks.
In a resealable plastic bag, combine eggplant with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt; toss to mix. Place in medium baking pan; cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until eggplant is just tender. Uncover and set aside.
Heat remaining oil in large skillet; sauté zucchini, onions, bell peppers, Italian seasonings and garlic for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add tomatoes, prepared Gorton’s Grilled Salmon, olives, pepper and prepared eggplant mixture; simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until all flavors are well combined and heated through.
Serve hot over pasta or rice.