I made this for lunch today, and realized I haven’t shared it here with you all yet! This dish is delish – plus it’s super simple to make, so it’s great for a quick at-home lunch or dinner. And the ingredients boast tons of nutritional benefits:
- Mangoes are rich in Vitamins A and C to support your eyesight and immune system
- Avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats
- Tomatoes contain lycopene, which could play a role in cancer prevention
- Chicken breast is an excellent source of protein, helping you stay full and satiated longer.
Grilled Chicken with Mango Avocado Salsa Makes 2 large servings
For the chicken:
10 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast (10 ounces uncooked or approx. 8 ounces cooked)
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lime
For the salsa:
1 mango, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
½ of a small red onion (or ¼ of a large red onion), diced
½ pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
Handful of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Nutrition analysis (approximate per serving):
- Season chicken breasts using cumin, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Grill until cooked through. (I love my George Forman grill for the winter time – it’s quick and easy).
- While chicken is cooking, combine all ingredients for salsa.
- Top chicken with salsa and voila! A quick healthy meal that takes less than 20 minutes.
450 calories, 17 grams of fat, 39 grams carbohydrate, 12 g dietary fiber, 36 grams of protein, 35% DV for Vitamin A, 120% DV for Vitamin C (plus rich in many other vitamins/minerals!)
After an inspiring session last week at FNCE (the biggest food and nutrition conference in the US) on food blogging, I’m making it a goal to get back to doing some recipe development. I got my inspiration for this dish from Half Baked Harvest.
I decided to switch up a few things and cut back the ingredient list significantly for the sake of simplicity. Her version definitely contains a wider variety of flavors, but I like this one for a quick & easy healthy vegetarian dinner.
I love this dish because it’s easy and doesn’t require a lot of cooking knowledge or skill. Plus, it’s packed with vitamins and minerals, including at least 30% of Vitamins A,B6, C, K, folate, and potassium. In fact, you’ll get your whole day’s requirement (and more) of Vitamin A in this dish because of all the bright orange veggies rich in beta carotene.
A quick note on the serving size: I did the nutrition analysis for this dish based on two servings, but it probably makes closer to three for many people. I tend to eat a smaller portion and the hubby eats a bigger portion, so what might make us dinner for two would really make me three meals. So just keep that in mind – if you’re watching your weight or your budget, you may consider dividing into three servings for a lower calorie count and cost per serving. Believe me, because of the veggies, fiber, and satiating fats – you’ll feel plenty full! Coconut Rice & Curried Vegetable Bowl
Servings: 2 to 3, depending on how hungry you are
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 cup butternut squash, chopped
10 baby carrots or 2 medium carrots, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tsp curry powder
0.25 tsp cayenne pepper (more to taste if you like spicy!)
2/3 cup lite coconut milk
1/3 cup water
1 cup instant brown rice
Lime juice (optional)Directions:
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Mix chopped vegetables in a bowl with olive oil, curry powder, and cayenne pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes, or until tender.
- Meanwhile, heat coconut milk and water over medium-high heat until it reaches a boil. Add rice and cook for a few minutes partially covered. Remove from heat and cover completely for 5 minutes.
- Mix rice with vegetables and top with avocado. I liked my dish this way, but if you prefer a squeeze of lime, you can add that too!
*If you’re looking for more protein in the dish, consider adding some tofu or chicken and cutting back a bit on the rice. Nutrition analysis per serving (based on 2 servings):
526 calories, 28 grams of fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 85 mg sodium, 69 grams carbohydrate, 14 grams fiber, 7 grams protein, 511% DV Vitamin A, 63%DV Vitamin C, 9% DV Calcium, 15% DV Iron
Fall brings us so many delicious produce items, including pumpkins. Not just for Jack-O-Lanterns, this vegetable provides lots of nutrients and can be used in a variety of ways. Time to get creative with pumpkins!
Pumpkin is rich in Vitamins A, C, and potassium. You can roast your own pumpkin, or you can pick up canned pumpkin as a quick & easy alternative. Look for canned versions that are pure pumpkin though, and not “pumpkin pie filling” which typically contains added sugar and/or spices.
Go beyond the pumpkin pie with these great recipe ideas:
- Add pumpkin to whole wheat pancake and waffle mixes for a fall twist on these yummy breakfasts.
- Try this recipe for 30-minute pumpkin soup, which combines pumpkins with other veggies like onion, corn, and bell pepper. Or try this recipe for pumpkin apple soup which has a bit of a sweeter taste.
- Love smoothies? Try an autumn smoothie made with milk (or almond/soy milk), pumpkin, banana, cinnamon, and ice cubes. You can also add in some flax seeds or chia seeds for an omega-3 boost!
- Baked goods like muffins or quick breads are perfect places to add vegetables like pumpkin, grated carrots, or grated zucchini.
- Dice fresh pumpkin and roast with sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, and/or butternut squash for a great fall veggie feast.
- The Fruits and Veggies More Matters campaign suggests stuffing the pumpkin with apples, pineapple, raisins, and spices. then baking it for a delicious dessert. Check out the recipe here.
- Add pumpkin puree to creamy pasta sauces (made with milk instead of cream, of course) for extra nutrition and flavor.
And of course, use those seeds too! Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium (which may help with migraine prevention) and zinc (involved in keeping your immune system in tip top shape). Plus, they pack a lot of fiber and protein, making them a great snack choice. Here are some basic roasting instructions: Ingredients:
1-2 tsp olive oil, depending on the amount of seeds
Pinch of salt Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 300F.
2) Remove the seeds and clean off the pulp and any stringy stuff.
3) In a bowl, toss seeds with olive oil and salt.
4) Spread on a large baking sheet and roast for 25-45 minutes (longer for more seeds), or until golden brown.
And check out these great ideas:
- You can mix up the basic roasting recipe above by using different seasonings. For example, do you want a slightly sweet pumpkin seed? Try a little cinnamon and brown sugar. Want a spicy pumpkin seed? Try some chili powder and cayenne pepper.
- Sprinkle roasted pumpkin seeds on top of your favorite salad for added flavor and crunch, like in this recipe for a baby spinach, avocado and pumpkin seed salad.
- Create a healthy trail mix using whole grain cereals, dried fruit, and roasted pumpkin seeds. This is a perfect snack to take on a fall hike to see the changing leaves!
- Instead of using pine nuts to make pesto, try substituting roasted pumpkin seeds! You can experiment with different greens besides basil too – try cilantro, parsley, or arugula.
- Grind roasted pumpkin seeds and use them to coat raw chicken or fish to make a pumpkin seed crusted dish.
- Mix oatmeal with a little canned pumpkin and cinnamon, and then top with roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of roasted vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, or green beans.
Do you all remember those chia pets, the popular grass growing pieces of pottery (you know – “Ch-ch-ch-chia!”)? Now, chia is back in the spotlight – not for its growing properties – but for its nutritional benefits! Chia seeds are now being produced for edible consumption and can be used in a variety of ways. They provide a great source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. You can find them at health food stores, online at websites like Vitacost, and at many mainstream grocery stores (typically in the natural section).
Wondering why on earth you should incorporate chia? Consider these nutrition facts. 1 tbsp of chia seeds contains…
- 60 calories
- 4 grams of fat – a valuable source of omega-3 essential fatty acids that support cardiovascular and cognitive health! (Perfect for those of you who may not like/eat fish, another good source of omega 3s)
- 4 grams of dietary fiber to support digestive health
- 10% of your daily magnesium needs, important for heart/muscular health, and also may play a role in preventing migraines
- 6% of your daily calcium needs to support bone health
If you’ve never eaten them before, the texture may be a little surprising. The initial dry texture provides a bit of a crunch. However, chia seeds develop a gel-like layer around the seed when left in a liquidy foods or in beverages. You may or may not enjoy the texture this way – experiment with them to find out! You can use chia seeds in many ways – a few examples include:
- Top fruit and yogurt or oatmeal with chia seeds.
- Sprinkle them on top of a salad.
- Add milled (ground) chia seeds to baked goods like quick breads and muffins, or your favorite pancake and waffle batter mix.
- Mix chia seeds into your favorite smoothie recipe.
- Mix ground chia with herbs and seasonings. Dip chicken or fish in a little non-fat plain yogurt, and then coat in the chia mixture. Bake in the oven.
But my very favorite
way to use chia seeds is to make chia seed strawberry jam
! This is so super easy, and much healthier than a lot of the store bought jams filled with tons of additional ingredients and lots of added sugar. Seriously, it only takes 10 minutes and you can make a batch whenever you need some. Scroll below the photos for the recipe!
Chia Seed Strawberry Jam Recipe
1 pound of strawberries
2.5 tbsp. of chia seeds
1 tbsp. sugar, honey, or other sweetener (You can adjust this with a little more or less based on your taste preferences. Honestly, I think if your berries are super sweet you probably don’t even need to add this)
1) Pureed strawberries roughly in a food processor. You can choose how much to puree – if you like it a bit more like chunky preserves versus a bit smoother like jam.
2) Heat strawberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 2.5 tbsp chia seeds and 1 tbsp sugar, and simmer for 5 minutes.
3) Place it in a jar/bowl and chill in the fridge. It should form a jam like consistency upon cooling – about an hour or so.
And that’s it! It should last several days in the fridge. Enjoy!
Share with us: Do you use chia seeds? What's your favorite way to eat them?
Mmmm. This has got to be one of my favorite things to cook. I mean, look at that photo - doesn’t that piece of lasagna look super creamy and delicious?!
It is. It tastes fantastic. And the best part? It’s not going to break the calorie bank - just 388 calories per generous sized serving! Plus this lightened up lasagna provides many important nutrients. The squash and spinach provide lots of vitamins and minerals including Vitamins A, C, and K, while the milk and cheese provide calcium.
Butternut squash and spinach lasagna is a VAST improvement over most versions of lasagna made with white sauce. We use low fat milk rather than cream or whole milk, which helps to cut down on both calories and saturated fat. Most of the filling comes from the squash and the spinach, with just a hint of cheese – rather than the abundance of meat and cheese in many recipes - so we’ve cut down on the calories and significantly increased the nutrient value.
And none of these changes sacrifice taste! Give this recipe a try if you’re looking for a way to lighten up your lasagna while still feeling like you are indulging in a rich entrée.
Keep in mind the recipe does have several grams of saturated fat and a moderate amount of sodium - but if the rest of your meals are reasonable in these components, this can certainly be part of your healthy diet!
The recipe is below. It looks like a lot of instructions, but I promise – it’s an easy recipe to make. I just try to provide as much detail as possible in the directions!
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
Makes 6 Servings
8 ounces lasagna noodles, broken in half (This is equal to about 1/2 of a normal size box. You should have 18 noodle halves)
**Unfortunately, the supermarket I was at earlier this week did not have any whole wheat lasagna noodles in stock, so we used the white in a pinch. Definitely use whole wheat lasagna noodles when you can!
For the filling:
1 tbsp butter
3 or 4 cups cubed butternut squash. **Not going to lie – for this recipe, I just bought a 20 ounce package that was already peeled/chopped at the supermarket, which worked perfectly. I almost always buy the whole one, but it is a bit tough to cut and cube raw. Plus, the price of the cut one was actually equal ounce for ounce to the whole one when you estimate about how much you toss from the peel/seeds. I’d guesstimate a 1 ½ to 2 pound whole squash would give you the amount you’d need after peeling/removing seeds.
1 cup water
½ tsp pepper
10 ounce package of spinach
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
For the sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup flour
2 ½ cups 1% low fat milk
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1) Boil water and cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. I break the noodles in half because a) they’re easier to fit in the pot, and b) when I lay the noodles in my casserole dish, I do two columns with 3 rows of noodles each (look at the photo of the casserole dish if you’re confused). Since this recipe makes 6 portions, it allows me to know exactly what 1/6th of the lasagna dish is for portion control!
2) While noodles are cooking, melt 1 tbsp butter in a large sauté pan. Add cubed butternut squash, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook on medium heat until squash is tender and all the water is gone. Sometimes, I need to add another ½ cup water and give it more time until it’s tender. It typically takes about 15 minutes, give or take (you should be able to mash the squash somewhat with a fork when you apply pressure).
3) Once squash is tender, add spinach to same pan and cook until wilted. While stirring, mash up squash a bit. Turn off heat.
4) Preheat oven to 350 F.
5) Drain lasagna noodles and leave in colander. In same pot that you cooked noodles (yay for avoiding too many dirty dishes!), melt 2 tbsp butter. Add onion/garlic and sauté for a few minutes until tender. Mix in flour and stir for 2 minutes. Gradually add 2 ½ cups of milk, stirring. Heat, stirring often, until sauce just starts to boil. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese.
6) Spread a little sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish (a 9x13 dish works perfect for this dish). Layer noodles on bottom, followed by ½ of the squash/spinach mixture, then half a cup of mozzarella cheese. Top with 1/3 of the remaining white sauce and then another layer of noodles. Create another layer with the remaining squash/spinach, other ½ cup of mozzarella cheese, and the next 1/3 of the white sauce. Top with one more layer of noodles and remaining white sauce.
7) Cover with foil and cook for about 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly.
Nutrient Analysis (per serving):
388 calories, 12 grams of fat (7 grams saturated fat), 585 mg sodium, 52 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 18 grams protein, 348% daily Vitamin A needs, 43% daily Calcium needs, 52% daily Vitamin C needs, 20% daily Iron needs
I was lucky enough to receive some samples from Chobani last week. In addition to eating it plain, greek yogurt has many other uses – including its use as a substitute for fats and oils in baked goods like muffins and breads. This helps to cut down on calories and fat while keeping the dish moist.
I did a little experimenting with their new peach blended flavor, which has little bits of chopped peaches in the yogurt. I also had some apples lying around, so I decided to make these peachy-keen apple muffins!
They came out very good– much more of an apple flavor than peach, but the yogurt definitely did its job helping the muffins stay moist. Plus, each muffin is only 138 calories and has 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein! They’re perfect component to add to your breakfast or for a mid-day snack. Peachy-keen apple muffins
Makes 12 servings Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup Chobani 0% Peach greek yogurt
Juice from 1 orange
2 peeled chopped applesDirections:
- Preheat oven to 350 F and spray a muffin tin with cook spray.
- Blend flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add sugar, egg, greek yogurt, and juice from one orange.
- Fold in chopped apples.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Enjoy!
Keep in mind because these have fresh pieces of fruit inside, they may not last as long on the counter as something like a corn or bran muffin. Nutrition facts (for 1 muffin assuming a batch of 12):
138 calories, 1 gram of fat, 207 mg sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein
You may already be cooking with quinoa – there are some fantastic recipes out there. One of my favorite ways to cook with it is in a vegetable burrito recipe. But did you know you can make quinoa breakfasts too?! That’s right, if you’re tired of the same old cereal or oatmeal, give warm and nutty quinoa a try in your morning meal. And we’ve got 5 different ways for you to try it!
Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse – each cooked cup contains 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein, higher than many other grains out there. You’ll also find 15% of your iron needs and 30% of your magnesium needs in that cup. Plus, for my endurance athletes out there, these quinoa breakfasts are a rich source of healthy carbohydrates to fuel your body.
The nice thing about these breakfasts is you can cook a batch of quinoa on Monday morning and keep it in the fridge for the next 4 days. Then all you need to do is heat it up and add the accompaniments for a quick and easy quinoa breakfast!
I made one big batch of quinoa for the week that I made these recipes. Just combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a small pot and boil until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked through (it will expand in size and you’ll see a white “ring” around the quinoa). 1 cup uncooked quinoa made about 2 ½ cups cooked quinoa – enough for 5 days of delicious breakfasts, assuming you use ½ cup in each one.
Plus, each of these recipes can be tweaked the way you like. Don’t like plums? Try kiwi instead! Want to add a little vanilla to the apple cinnamon quinoa? Go for it! The options are endless.
We'll start with my favorite of the 5 ways...
Banana & Chocolate Quinoa (yep, this one was my favorite of all 5 dishes – it was so delicious!)
½ cup cooked quinoa
1/3 cup skim milk
1 sliced banana
1 tbsp dark chocolate covered cacao nibs (these are super delicious and better for you than a standard chocolate bar. I got mine at Taza in Somerville, MA)
Directions: Mix quinoa and milk. Heat until warm. Add sliced banana and top with 1 tbsp dark chocolate covered cacao nibs. Yum!
Nutrition facts: 330 calories, 8 grams of fat, 58 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams of protein, 22 grams of sugar, 9 grams of protein, 9% of DV for Vitamin A, 18% of DV for Vitamin C, 19% of DV for Calcium, 12% of DV for iron
Apple Cinnamon QuinoaSkinny Taste
did another version of apples & cinnamon breakfast quinoa that was great, and this is a somewhat adapted version of that. Ingredients:
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup skim milk (or milk alternative)
½ of an apple, chopped
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ ounce pecans (about 10 halves) Directions:
Mix quinoa, milk, and cinnamon. Heat until warm. Add chopped apple, applesauce, and pecans. Enjoy!Nutrition facts:
298 calories, 12 grams fat, 43 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 17 grams sugar, 8 grams protein, 7% of DV for Vitamin A, 28% of DV for Vitamin C, 17% of DV for Calcium, 11% of DV for iron
½ cup cooked quinoa
Squeeze of fresh orange juice
1 tsp honey
1 sliced plum
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp chopped walnuts
Directions: Mix warm cooked quinoa with a squeeze of juice from an orange. Drizzle on 1 tsp of honey. Add sliced plum, cranberries, and walnuts. Eat up!
Nutrition facts: 316 calories, 7 grams of fat, 62 grams of carbohydrate, 6 grams of fiber, 35 grams sugar, 6 grams protein, 6% of DV for Vitamin A, 37% of DV for Vitamin C, 3% of DV for Calcium, 11% of DV for iron
Cheddar Grape Quinoa
Don't knock it before you try it! I love the sweet & savory combination of grapes and cheddar.
½ cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup skim milk
1 cup grapes
Directions: Mix quinoa, milk, and cheddar cheese. Heat until warm and cheese is melting. Mix in grapes. Enjoy!
Nutrition facts: 350 calories, 11 grams fat, 50 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 27 grams sugar, 14 grams protein, 13% of DV for Vitamin A, 28% of DV for Vitamin C, 36% of DV for Calcium, 12% of DV for iron
Savory Egg & Spinach Quinoa
½ cup cooked quinoa
1 tsp olive oil
Large handful of spinach
Directions: Place cooked quinoa in a bowl (and warm if up if you’ve been storing it in the fridge). Spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray and cook 2 eggs over hard (you could also poach or scramble the eggs). Place eggs over quinoa. In the same skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil and sauté a large handful of spinach (the more the merrier!) until cooked through and wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Add to quinoa bowl. Season with pepper and any other seasonings of your choice.
Nutrition facts: 297 calories, 16 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar, 17 grams protein, 38% of DV for Vitamin A, 7% of DV for Vitamin C, 8% of DV for Calcium, 20% of DV for iron
Share with us - Which one are you planning to make? Which did you like the best?
On Plum District a few weeks ago, I decided to buy a voucher for a one week vegetable CSA trial at a Pakeen Farm
in Canton, MA. I typically do a lot of shopping at farmers markets for produce, but I love the ideas of CSAs as well. In these programs, you agree to pay a certain amount at the beginning of the season for weekly boxes of produce. You typically don’t get a choice the items each week, but are guaranteed a variety of items. CSAs can be a fun challenge, because you might receive ingredients you don’t frequently use, so it gives you a chance to experiment with them.
Case in point – in my trial share, I got some fresh beets. I’ve done a little experimenting with beets in the past and enjoyed it (try my mango beet smoothie recipe
for delicious proof!) but haven’t cooked with them much since.
I was brainstorming how to use these, and remembered that Terra Chips had a variety that they sold which I really liked, and it included sweet potato and beet chips. So I decided to experiment with that idea by making my own beet chips!
I started by washing and scrubbing the beets, then slicing them. Wow, isn’t that color just fantastic?!
After that, I tossed them in olive oil, rosemary, and a tiny bit of salt, then put them in the oven to bake. Twenty or so minutes later and voilà – my snack was done!
The chips didn’t look very beautiful after cooking – partially because I didn’t have a mandolin slicer to get those nice, very thin chip-like slices – but they tasted fantastic.
And they’re super healthy. Beets pack in lots of potassium to support heart health and muscular health. They are also rich in folate which is important for pregnant women to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in the developing fetus. And since we leave the skin on in this recipe (yes, you can eat beet skin), you’ve got a great source of dietary fiber – important for a healthy digestive system!
Here’s the recipe – give them a try! Baked Rosemary Beet Chips
Makes 1-2 servings, depending on if you like to share Ingredients:
4 fresh beets
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary (you can use more or less depending on your taste preferences)
A dash of salt (optional) Directions:
Nutrition Analysis (for total recipe):
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Remove beet greens, stalks, and the bottom part of each beet. Wash and scrub beets well.
- Cut beets into thin slices. I don’t have a mandolin slicer, so I just used a sharp knife, but the mandolin would definitely be quicker and make it much easier to get a uniform size.
- Toss in a bowl with olive oil, rosemary, and salt.
- Spread onto a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 15-25 minutes, until beets are crisp. Keep an eye on them, as cooking time will depend on the size of your beets and thinness of the slices.
- Let cool for a couple minutes and enjoy!
227 calories, 10 grams of fat, 354 mg sodium, 33 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein
Do you get enough seafood in your diet? I know I probably fall short of this nutritional superstar a lot of weeks. But this week I won’t have that problem - I’m super excited, because I just won a free one-week fish CSA share through Edible South Shore
and the South Shore Seafood Exchange
(whose acronym is SOSSEXI - I love it and it's easy to remember!)! It got me thinking about sharing how important seafood can be in your diet.
The last set of Dietary Guidelines and the new MyPlate icon are one of the first sets of governmental recommendations to actively and specifically promote seafood consumption (note I said governmental – other organizations have been pushing this for a long time). The recommendation is to eat seafood twice a week, or about 8 or more ounces per week. To give you some perspective, a drained can of tuna is about 3-4 ounces while a fillet of white fish or salmon ranges from 3 to 6 ounces. Yet the average American eats only about 3 ounces of fish each week, falling short of the 8 or more ounce guideline.
Fish is rich in protein, minerals, and certain vitamins. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of health benefits. They can improve heart health by helping to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and may reduce the risk of arrhythmias. Omega-3s are also thought to reduce inflammation it the body, leading to improvements in arthritis and joint problems. They may decrease the risk or progression of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. There is also evidence that pregnant women who eat omega 3s through low mercury seafood choices have children with improved cognitive function later in life. Pretty powerful stuff, huh?!
Here are some tips for a diet full of healthy seafood choices: Eliminate boredom; eat a variety.
Try including different types of fish in your diet, from salmon to oysters to cod. Both fish and shellfish count towards the 8 ounce per week guidelines, so there are plenty of options out there for you to choose from.
If you’re bored with a piece of grilled or baked fish, think of other unique ways you can make fish. For example, I just made a nutritious paella with lots of delicious vegetables, whole grain couscous, and sautéed scallops! You could also try shrimp stir fry, pasta with clams, salads topped with tuna, or add grilled fish to a sandwich. Try a burger made from fish rather than meat.
Or try tacos made with fish. These can be a healthy and quick dinner option. Use whole wheat tortillas, whatever kind of fish you have available or an inexpensive option from the grocery store, and some vegetables. I’ve made tacos with tilapia and a salsa made from cucumbers, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, jalepeno, and green onions – yum! Use healthy cooking methods and cook it safely.
Let’s move away from the fried fish fillets and breaded fish sticks. Fish can be cooked in many delicious ways that cuts down on extra calories and fat. Baking, broiling, roasting, and grilling are good options. You can use spices and seasonings to add flavor, as well as lemon or lime juice.
You also want to cook fish correctly – cooking it enough to kill bacteria, but not so much that it overcooks which can dry it out quickly. The recommendation is to cook fish to 145 degrees to ensure any unsafe bacteria are killed – use a meat thermometer to measure temperature, or look for when the fish starts to flake. For shellfish like shrimp and scallops, cook until they turn opaque (that milky white color). Canned counts.
Canned tuna, sardines, and salmon are all good choices. They’re inexpensive, easy to keep on hand, and can be used in a variety of ways. And a fun fact: did you know that sardines are a good source of calcium? That’s right, because they still contain those little bones, they provide a great boost of calcium for those of you who don’t like typical calcium-rich dairy products. Avoid too many high mercury choices.
The biggest sources of mercury are from shark, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel. Check out this great list
that categorizes fish by mercury level if you’re interested in learning more about what food choices are lowest in mercury and safest to eat, particularly for pregnant women. Share with me: What’s your favorite way to include seafood in your diet?
I love to cook – don’t get me wrong, it’s one of my favorite things to do – but sometimes, you just need a quick and easy lunch or dinner that can be ready in 10 minutes. I’ve been trying to find more of these options, and decided to experiment with making some greek pita pockets the other night for dinner.
Oh my goodness – these easy little creations were so delicious! After getting a skeptical look when I told my husband that this pita sandwich would have cucumbers in it - he ended up loving it. I was happy I made enough for both of us to have some leftovers for lunch the next day.
This recipe fits into a healthy eating plan too! The pita is whole wheat, so you’re getting a source of healthy carbohydrates with fiber and minerals. Most of the pita is stuffed with veggies like cucumber and tomato, helping you to meet your daily veggie needs and providing lots of nutrients and phytochemicals. Plus we pack in some protein with grilled chicken, and boost the flavor with feta cheese.
Drooling yet? ;) Here you go!
Greek Pita Pockets
Makes 4 servingsIngredients:
1 pound grilled chicken
2-3 tbsp lite balsamic vinaigrette
1 cucumber, peeled
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
¼ to ½ of a large red onion (to taste)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Juice from ½ lemon
3/4 cup feta cheese (split into 4 servings)
2 full whole wheat pitas, split in half for 4 servings (or 4 small pita pockets) Directions:
Nutrition facts per serving
- Marinate chicken in lite balsamic vinaigrette dressing. If you have time you can chill it in the fridge, but I just coated the chicken right before cooking.
- Cook chicken. I used my George Forman grill, but you could also easily use an outdoor grill or sauté in a pan with a small amount of olive oil (the olive oil method would add a bit more calories and fat to the nutrition facts listed below).
- While chicken is cooking, chop cucumber and red onion; mix in a bowl. Half cherry tomatoes and add to the cucumbers and onion.
- Pour olive oil, lemon, and Italian seasoning in the bowl with the vegetables. Mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Cut pita bread in half so you can stuff the pita pockets. Place vegetable mixture, chopped cooked chicken, and feta cheese in the pita pocket and enjoy!
(based on the pita I used which was 115 calories per serving):
379 calories, 12 grams of fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 32 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 6 grams sugar, 35 grams protein, 16% Vitamin A, 31% Vitamin C, 18% calcium, 15% iron