Thursday, March 11, 2010

OMG Omega 3!

Recently I've been inspired to up my family's fish intake.  Fish and I have not had the best of beginnings.  Mainly because I sucked at making fish.  So I'd buy the frozen kind.  Like, fishsticks.  What?  They're good dipped in ketchup!  And one time I created a more sophisticated meal with fishsticks inside a tortilla with a dollop of tartar sauce.  They were "fish tacos" and they were gross.  Eventually I put my big girl panties on and made some actual fish recipes.  And wouldn't you know- they were actually good!  You always hear people say: "I don't like fishy fish."  I know what they mean, but that's kind of like saying you don't like chickeny chicken.  Or beefy beef.  Would that just be big, ripped beef?  Like a a piece of sirloin walking around with dumbells and a man-o-tard.  Er..... okay.  I think fish will taste like fish.  And selecting the freshest of fish and pairing it with the right seasonings and flavors, it's quite tasty!  My favorite fish is salmon.  It has a wonderful flavor and can be seasoned a million and one different ways.   It's loaded with high doses of Omega 3 fatty acids. 

So, what are "Omega-3's" anyway?  What's the fuss?  Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that's thought to reduce inflammation throughout the body.  They are believed to improve learning ability in children, decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, enhance immune function and improve arthritis symptoms.  Consuming one to two servings a week of fish, particularly fatty fish, appears to reduce the risk of heart disease (particularly sudden cardiac death).  

Not all fish are created equal.  If you want more Omega bang for your buck- go with salmon or herring.  Salmon being the more popular fatty fish.  And even tuna to a lesser extent- but not as good as salmon. There are also differences between freshwater and sea fish.  Fatty fish of the sea (saying that makes me laugh) have the highest omega-3 fatty acids.  While tilapia does contain some omega-3's- it's not as much as salmon.  But, being more budget friendly, its a popular choice.   And it's better than no fish at all.  

Cooking Fish

Rule #1- Buy Fresh!
Rule #2- Buy Fresh!
Rule #3-Buy Fresh!

I now just wait to buy my fish until the day I'm making it.  That works for me.  That way I don't put it off and lose the fresh factor and then freeze it.  "Why not freeze you ask?"  Because my personal opinion is that it's just not as good.  It's "fishier" when frozen and thawed.  And I just plain don't like it.  And there's always the chance it could get buried in your freezer and you'll end up tossing it after finding it 9 months later.  So I just prefer getting it the same day.  And if you can get to a farmer's market near you- even better (and cheaper).  

Here are some no brainer fish recipes off the top of my head.  The easier and quicker they are to make- the more likely I'll actually make them. 

Tilapia w/ tomato caper sauce

Tilapia filets
1 can italian seasoned diced tomatoes (or add basil/oregano)
1 tbsp capers
1/2 a small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400.  Saute olive oil, onion and garlic until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and capers.  Let stew a bit while you prepare tilapia pouches.  Lay out a large square piece of tin foil for each tilapia filet.  Place a filet on each pc of foil.  Squeeze lemon over each piece of fish, generously.  Salt lighty and pepper with real cracked pepper.  Top about 1/2 cup of tomato caper sauce over fish. Fold up pouch tightly on top and roll up sides to create a seal.  Cook about 10-15 mins until fish is white and flakey.  Top over some brown rice, making sure all the wonderful juices are poured over everything.  

Lemon Dill Salmon or Tilapia

Salmon or Tilapia filets
olive oil
fresh dill

Preheat oven to 400.  Create foil pouches and place salmon inside.  Drizzle each filet with some olive oil, lemon juice and fresh snipped dill.  Seal it up and bake!  Squeeze some more fresh lemon juice on top before serving.  Pair with green veggies like roasted asparagus or steamed broccoli with lemon juice.  

Salmon is lovely with sweet flavoring.  My favorite is at Publix.  I get their Bourbon Marinated Salmon on a special occasion.  But for 5.99 per filet- that's not often.  A nice marinade for salmon is OJ and soy sauce.  Just put some oj in a bowl, a few splashes of soy sauce, some honey maybe, garlic powder and there you go.  Pour over salmon in baking dish and let stew for 30 mins and then bake, covered with foil to seal the juices in.  

You can even put pesto on Tilapia and bake it in a pouch.  Ba-da-bing!  Or is that boom?

Favorite Fish Pairing Veggies:
Roasted Asparagus (tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, honey and S&P)
Steamed broccoli with Mrs. Dash and lemon juice
Roasted butternut squash (tossed with feta cheese right before serving)
Blanched green beans (same as asparagus)
Sauteed Kale w/ garlic and olive oil (place fish on top)

My family (kids included) will eat all these fish and veggies- so I really have no excuse not to make them.  My 15 month old just put away an entire tilapia filet at lunch today.  I lucked out on the kid taste bud thing.  Or maybe I just keep offering "exotic" dishes like fish and veggies and if they knew what was good for them, they'd eat them.  I've never been a short order cook, so my kids either eat the meal or starve.

Here's my tilapia lunch today.  Soooo good!

If you cannot get your omega-3's from natural resources (which are the best!!)- you can get them through supplementation.  I take 1 fish oil capsule with each meal (up to 3 a day).  My kids take them too.  They come in cute, little gum drop looking pieces and they think it's candy.  The dumb little darlings.    Another way (not the only) to get some omega-3's is in flaxseed oil.  You can put flaxseed oil in oatmeal, smoothes, veggies, yogurt, whatever.  My 15 month old suffers from exzcema and allergies- so he gets 1/2 tsp daily.  I cannot tell you what a difference it makes in his skin.  Older kids would get around a 1 tbsp/day.  But you'll have to research that yourself.  Too much will give them the runs.  So play with it.  The dosage, not the runs. 

Here are the brands I use:

Spectrum Flax Oil (needs to be refrigerated)
365 Brand Fish Oil
Nordic Natural Omega-3 Gummies

Supplements are great, but if you do even a half assed amount of research you'll find that it is always more beneficial to get your vitamins/minerals/oils from the real thing.  Don't fool yourself into thinking that taking a fish oil capsule with those oreos is good for you.  That is hypothetical, of course.   I would never do that.  I mean, really.  If you DID do that, then make sure you dunk them in skim milk.  Because that's definitely healthier. 

Jazz hands,



Lindsey Elizabeth Burke said...

what do you use the flax oil in? I have heard of people just having the cajones to just take a "shot" of it straight but that kind of makes me want to vomit!

Jen Gordon said...

Smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt..

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