Seafood is a pillar of the Mediterranean Diet. It is both delicious and full of nutritional beneﬁts—perfect to highlight for National Nutrition Month!
In fact, seafood is so healthy that when a nutrition scientiﬁc advisory panel met in 2008 to update the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid ﬁrst introduced by Oldways and the Harvard School of Public Health in 1993, one of the major changes was making ﬁsh and seafood more prominent. The reason? In 2008, ongoing research studies concluded that consuming seafood and ﬁsh, particularly fatty ﬁsh high in Omega-3s, twice a week was particularly health promoting for brain and heart health. Since then there’s been a continual drumbeat of research validating that conclusion.
Seafood is rich in nutrients that help support optimal health at all life stages, from pregnancy and early childhood to growing teens and aging adults. The nutrients in seafood—such as Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, selenium and B vitamins—help support heart health, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, lower chronic systemic inﬂammation, protect the eyes, support the immune system and boost brain health, including early brain development. With all of these beneﬁts and more, it’s no surprise that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid encourage eating seafood at least two times each week.
While ﬁsh and seafood consumption has been happily increasing, two big reasons that people don’t eat more of it are: lack of knowledge about how to prepare it, and lack of meal inspiration!
We know that for those who only eat ﬁsh occasionally, twice a week may seem like a stretch. However, ﬁsh is more versatile than you think, and there are many delicious and eﬀortless ways to enjoy it daily—not just at dinnertime. From breakfast and lunch to appetizers and snacks, fantastic ﬁsh can fuel your whole day! Here are some great recipes to illustrate our point.
Fish for breakfast? Absolutely. Salmon Cake Eggs Benedict is a delicious dish perfect for a leisurely weekend morning. A heart-healthy avocado crema replaces the hollandaise sauce in this Mediterranean twist on Eggs Benedict. To streamline preparation, the salmon cakes can be formed the night before and covered in the fridge before cooking.
Another way to get ﬁsh in during breakfast is to top avocado toast with a sardine or two, or add sardines to eggs (AKA ﬁsherman’s eggs, or sardines mixed with a tasty array of herbs and aromatics, and then baked with a few eggs cracked on top).
From power bowls, sandwiches, soups, and pastas—lunch ideas featuring ﬁsh are endless! Plus, you can throw something inexpensive and quick together, by utilizing canned options, like ready-to-eat tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines and herring.
Another delicious and lunchbox friendly lunch is this Tuna Niçoise Salad, inspired by the Niçoise salads of the French Riviera. For more protein feel free to add a sliced, hardboiled egg.
Appetizers & Snacks:
You can really have fun with seafood and ﬁsh appetizers and snacks! Feel free to get creative. For example, our friends at National Fisheries Institute, took classic deviled eggs and created Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs. Extra protein, extra omega 3’s and extra delicious. Full of ﬂavor, these deviled eggs are elevated by smoked salmon and lightened up with Greek yogurt. This recipe is simple enough for your afternoon snack but would work just as well as an elegant appetizer at your next gathering. See more of their unique appetizer ideas in this Instagram Live we did over the Holidays!
You can also keep it simple. Salt Cod and Chickpea Salad is super straight-forward and comes together quickly. Although this could be a main dish, it also makes a great side, or appetizer. Serve at cold, warm, or at room temperature.
Out of every meal, you probably have the most ideas for dinner, but we thought we would share this delicious and truly Mediterranean meal anyway. White Fish garnished in Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil Herbs and Capers will have you daydreaming of a Mediterranean getaway by the sea!
Though these were just a few ideas, we hope it opened your mind to diﬀerent ways you can incorporate ﬁsh into your daily life.
For more inspiration, see the recipes in this week’s Fresh Friday, look for recipes through the Oldways recipe search, and check out these three in our 12 Great Ways to Use series: salmon, shrimp, canned sardines.
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Join the Make Every Day Mediterranean Club Facebook group for additional information and support