Contributed by: Abigail Lambert, Dietetic Intern
Each January, at the start of the new year, many people revamp their nutrition and eating habits in hopes of becoming a better, healthier version of themselves. Food is just one tool that can be used to better our health. What we eat affects our overall wellness — how we feel each day from our energy level to our mood, and even our aches and pains — and ultimately poor eating practices can lead to chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.
Seafood is not only delicious, but also an important tool to lift your mood each day, help improve your sleeping habits, and reduce inflammation that can lead to those chronic diseases. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least two servings per week of a variety of seafood.
If you haven’t cooked much seafood in the past, it can be intimidating — but it doesn’t need to be! Trying simple and easy recipes can make cooking seafood exciting! So, don’t miss out on the health benefits of fish just because you’re not sure where to start. Here are four quick tips to help integrate seafood into your weekly meals:
Tip #1: Choose the right fish
Some kinds of seafood have a stronger flavor, but not all fish have a strong taste and smell profile. Generally oily fish, or fish with higher fat levels, are stronger in flavor, while those lower in fat levels are more neutral-flavored. Start by incorporating mild-flavored seafood into your meals with your favorite seasonings to figure out what flavor profile you prefer. White fish, including cod, haddock, flounder, mahi-mahi, and walleye along with shrimp and scallops have a nice, mild flavor that takes on the flavor profile of whatever sauce or spice you’re cooking with. In addition, make sure you cook your seafood within the appropriate time frame — so if you bought fresh fish or thawed frozen fish, you should cook it within a couple of days.
Tip #2: Master the cooking method
There are plenty of methods that make cooking seafood simple. Try popping your fish in the oven or sauteing your filets on the stovetop. . In the oven, seafood can be cooked on a baking sheet or in tinfoil pouches for easy cleanup. Fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops saute well on the stove in a nonstick skillet with a little oil and spices. Cooking times for seafood vary depending on the type or species. It’s important to follow the cooking instructions for the specific fish so you don’t overcook it. . Fish should be tender and flaky when cooked correctly. Try inserting your fork in the center and gently twist. If it is fully cooked, it should flake easily. A rubbery or dry texture indicates the seafood may be overcooked. Shrimp will become pink and most mollusks, such as mussels or clams, will open when steamed to perfection. Check out our simple tips below for more information.
Tip #3: Up your spice game
Adding spices or marinades to your seafood dishes can be a total gamechanger. Spice blends can be as simple as salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon or as complicated as blackened seasoning. Experiment with different spices and fish to find your favorite combination or try using sauces to create flavor.
Tip #4: Incorporate Seafood into your favorite meals
Incorporating seafood into your meal plans doesn’t have to be complicated and involve lots of new recipes. Fish and shellfish arevery versatile and can often be used in place of chicken or beef in your favorite recipes! Adding seafood to dishes can be as easy as making shrimp tacos, salmon burgers, tuna salad sandwiches, or throwing tilapia on a salad. Use this simple game plan to help you choose delicious seafood swaps.