All posts by NFI Nutrition

mahi with pineapple salsa

The USDA MyPlate recommends that we fill half our plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with lean protein and a quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables. When your protein is fish, it’s so easy to fill that half of a plate with colorful produce.

It’s no secret that fish pairs wonderfully with grilled and roasted veggies or a leafy greens salad (or both!). But, don’t forget fruit. Fruit–especially spring and summer fruit–makes a great addition to seafood.

Craving a pineapple-based relish, I mixed canned diced pineapple, chopped red bell pepper, seasonings, olive oil and lime juice. Served on top of grilled mahi, the light fruit salsa complemented the delicate taste of mahi.A simple, quick and tasty way to boost my seafood, fruit and vegetable intake, and get me closer to MyPlate recommendations.

TELL US: What are your favorite quick fruit-based relishes or salsa for seafood? Please share. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted by Rima Kleiner, MS, RD

New Seafood Advice for Moms-To-Be and Breastfeeding Moms in the Works

Sometimes it takes nutrition policy a little while to catch up to the science. Today we are happy to report that decade-old seafood advice for pregnant and breastfeeding moms from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is on its way to getting a much-needed update.

The 2004 version of the draft advice was widely misinterpreted as a warning—not good because fish is so rich in powerhouse pregnancy nutrients, including omega-3s! Now, FDA is working to clear the waters with newly-released draft seafood advice that clearly encourages expectant and new moms to eat 2-3 servings of fish each week for optimal baby brain development.

This draft advice is based on more than 110 studies that look at what happens when pregnant women eat fish—including both the good stuff like omega-3s and concerns about mercury. At the end of the day, it’s clear that pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat a variety of seafood 2-3 times a week, to help mom and baby meet needs for essential omega-3s without introducing concerns. For more information, check out  these reviews: WHO/FAO Joint Expert Consultation on the Risks and Benefits of Fish Consumption; USDA/DHHS 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans; Draft Report: A Quantitative Assessment of the Net Effects on Fetal Neurodevelopment from Eating Commercial Fish (As Measured by IQ and also by Early Age Verbal Development in Children).

While fish is packed with a number of good things for moms and babies like protein, iron, and B vitamins, seafood is really one of the only naturally-rich sources of omega-3s called DHA. DHA is a building block for baby’s developing brain—the omega-3s found primarily in seafood comprise more than half of a newborn baby’s brain. And, the amount of omega-3 DHA in a baby’s brain triples during the first three months of life.

For most pregnant women–who eat on average about half a serving of seafood a week–this advice means it’s time to quadruple the amount of fish they eat. That’s right, most pregnant and nursing women need to eat four times the amount of seafood they currently eat to meet nutrient needs.

So, how can moms-to-be fit plenty of fish in their diets? Try these easy tips:

  • Try frozen, canned or pouch fish, convenient options that are just as healthful as fresh seafood.
  • Take recipes you already know and replace the usual protein with fish. It’s as simple as turning beef burgers into salmon burgers, chicken tacos into tilapia tacos and cheese quesadillas into canned tuna quesadillas.
  • Try eating tuna or crab salad on whole wheat bread, pita or whole grain crackers with some of these creative and craveable mix-ins like:
    • Avocados
    • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    • Diced apples, grapes, celery, carrots or jalapeno
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Dried fruit, like cherries or cranberries

For more easy and tasty seafood recipes, check out this meal planner and these sample menus.

salmon salad from @PescetarianPlan

Jennifer wrote about The Pescetarian Plan book by fellow registered dietitian @JanisJibrin recently. This is a fun book, and the recipes by @SidraForman don’t disappoint. Here is my take on their Salmon Salad.

This salmon salad is super-easy, so easy I whipped this salad up for lunch last week in a matter of minutes. I didn’t have parsley on hand, so I quickly diced up celery and avocado and opened a pouch of salmon. It was literally that simple. The combination of salmon and avocados is so satisfying, you’ll never miss the mayonnaise in this seafood-based salad.

I enjoyed the salad with raw peppers and celery, but it would pair nicely with whole grain crackers or bread or on top of a bed of mixed greens. With all the protein and heart-healthy fats in this lunch, this dish tied me over until dinner. No afternoon snack needed!

To learn more about The Pescetarian Plan–including a weight loss program and sample recipes–click here.

TELL US:What are some of your favorite seafood lunches? We’d love to hear from you.

Posted by Rima Kleiner, MS, RD

tilapia summer spaghetti

I love spaghetti with fish and vegetables, dressed in white wine, olive oil and lemon. This dish did not disappoint.

Since I don’t have a go-to recipe for an olive oil, lemon and white wine sauce, I always do a quick online search to see what recipes call for ingredients similar to what I have in the fridge and pantry. I found this Fish en Papillote recipe from @MelissadArabian at @FoodNetwork.

Melissa’s recipe calls for garlic, carrot and lemon, which I did not have. So, I improvised… I cooked tilapia, zucchini, red bell pepper, mushrooms and onions covered with an olive oil, white wine, lemon juice and touch of butter sauce in parchment paper. Then, I sprinkled with fresh basil and served on a bed of whole wheat spaghetti. It was delicious!

TELL US: What are your favorite summer seafood pasta dishes? Please share. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted by Rima Kleiner, MS, RD

shrimp grilled with barbecue peach chutney from @PescetarianPlan

I was sent a copy of a new book about eating healthfully by focusing on fish called The Pescetarian Plan by the books author and fellow registered dietitian, Janis Jibrin, MS, RD. Janis lays out an eating plan rich in 1) fruits and veggies, 2) healthful fats like olive oil and nuts, and 3) plenty of protein from fish and shellfish as well as meatless sources like beans and eggs. Most of the delicious-sounding recipes in the book for example, salmon with tahini and toasted nuts or clams with tomatoes and garlic on whole- grain pasta include at least a couple of these categories. I am always on the hunt for recipes that knock out a couple healthful food groups in one swoop, so Ill be trying several from this book. I started with the shrimp grilled with barbecue peach chutney, which contains seafood alongside fruit and veggies. We liked the combination of ingredients a lot tart and sweet. For more about this book, including sample meal plans and recipes, click here.

Posted by Jennifer McGuire, MS, RD

how i got my seafood this week: salad w/ salmon & sweet potato

Salads scream SUMMER DINNER to me.

Like most of my impromptu salads, this one is made with whatever fresh ingredients I have on hand. And like most of these throw-together salads, this one was delicious.

First, I brushed thinly-sliced sweet potatoes and zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted until sweet and slightly crunchy. I fired up the grill and then tossed mixed greens, shaved carrot, thawed-from-frozen black-eyed peas and tomatoes together while the salmon cooked. Then, I topped the veggies withgrilled salmon sprinkled with salt, pepper and olive oil and, lastly, I drizzled on some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

It was simple and delicious. And, now that it’s nice out, we eat dinner as much as possible outside… makes clean-up super-easy!

TELL US: How did you get your seafood this week? We’d love to hear from you!

Posted by Rima Kleiner, MS, RD

star of spring brunch: fish

Spring has sprung! And, with it… many excuses to enjoy brunch featuring springtime stars.

While seafood may not be the first food that comes to mind when you think “spring brunch,” maybe it should be. Full of protein, heart-healty omega-3s and other nutrients, fish and shellfish make a great addition to springtime brunch favorites, like asparagus, mixed greens and fruit salad.

According to a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association, more than 70 percent of Americans prefer healthier restaurant options than they did two years. And, brunch is no exception. In their 2013 Breakfast Report, Technomic says that “consumers link breakfast with health.” Because of its nutrient profile and health benefits, seafood is a “yes” food that restaurant-goers can feel good choosing at brunch.

Whether you’re preparing a weekend brunch for Easter or a mid-Passover meal or simply enjoying a warm-weather repast at a restaurant, try some of these springtime seafood stars.

Tuna: A lean protein with a healthy serving of omega-3s, tuna pairs well with vitamin and fiber-rich veggies, like potatoes and green beans in a traditional or deconstructed salad Nicoise. For an unexpected brunch appetizer, try tuna caprpaccio along with a light mayo and mustard garnish.

Smoked Salmon: The mild smoky flavor of “lox” pairs perfectly with egg frittatas or omelets, roasted asparagus and fruit salad.

Crab Cakes Benedict: A healthful twist on the usual ham.

Grilled or Smoked Trout: Serve with scrambled eggs and a mixed green salad or try mixing with light cream cheese for a trout spread.

Mussels: Pairs well with citrus and crusty whole grain bread.

Shrimp: Try mini grilled shrimp with grits or hash brown casseroles for a comforting meal.

Happy Springtime!

TELL US: What are your favorite seafood brunch dishes? We’d love to hear from you!

lemon cod w/ capers

Spring is finally here! To me, that means lighter fare and cooking with lemons.

This Lemon Cod with Capers is one of my husband’s specialties. And, I found myself craving it as the weather warmed a bit. So, when he charged himself with making dinner last Saturday night, this was my first request!

He pan-roasts the cod in a delicate sauce of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and white wine and serves with whole wheat cappellini, capers and a sauteed vegetable. In the summer, he might choose zucchini and summer squash. But, last weekend he cooked up some Brussels sprouts as the side.

This dish usually takes him less than 30 minutes, easily. And, it’s a delicious way to welcome the long-awaited Spring.

TELL US: What are your favorite spring fish dishes? We’d love to hear from you!

~Posted by Rima Kleiner, MS, RD~

rosemary tilapia w/ farro and sauteed spinach

Tilapia is such an easy fish to cook. So easy that I threw this weeknight dish together in about 20 minutes.

After drizzling the fillets with a little olive oil, I sprinkled rosemary and a dash of salt and pepper on the tilapia. I broiled the lean white fish until cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side. While the tilapia was cooking, I simmered the farro and sauteed mushrooms and spinach in a little olive oil. In about 20 minutes, I had dinner on the table in front of a hungry husband and ravenous (or so they claimed) kids.

The strong taste of rosemary pairs well with the mild taste of tilapia. And, seriously… no marinating, no complicated recipe, little mess and lots of nutrients. This MyPlate-inspired dish was so easy that you don’t even need a recipe. Just thawed fish, some olive oil and a little rosemary.

TELL US: What are some of your go-to weeknight fish dinners? We’d love to hear from you!

Posted by Rima Kleiner, MS, RD

brown rice salmon avocado sushi: easy to get two

Yesterday at lunch I ordered salmon avocado rolls wrapped in brown rice. It seemed like such an easy way to sneak in extra protein and omega-3 fats. And, the salmon helped me meet my weekly seafood needs.

Truth is, it’s simple to meet the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans seafood recommendation for 2-3 servings of seafood each week (about 3-4 ounces each). And as with all foods, it’s ideal to eat a variety of seafood to maximize nutrient intake.

Despite Harvard(and ample other!) research that fish is important for heart health, Americans still don’t come close to meeting their seafood needs. The average American eats a mere 3.5 ounces of seafood each week. No wonder heart disease continues to rank as the number 1 killer of American men and women.

Salmon rolls for lunch, canned tuna in pasta sauce on the weeknight and grilled fish or shrimp with veggies on the weekend. It’s that simple.

TELL US: What are you favorite ways to meet your seafood needs? We’d love to hear from you!

Posted by Rima Kleiner, MS, RD