At our house, we're always searching for ways to eat healthier ... on a budget. One way to do just that is to add healthly seafood to your menu at least twice a week. This includes both fish and shellfish as the main protein on your plate. Seafood is available in a variety of price points, so it doesn't have to be expensive.
Seafood contains an abundance of nutrients, including healthy omega-3 fats. According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, eating about 8 ounces per week (less for young children) of a variety of seafood can help prevent heart disease.
Here are some tips:
Choose wisely: Include the types of seafood that are higher in omega-3s and lower in mercury, such as salmon, trout, oysters, Atlantic and Pacific mackerel, herring and sardines.
Keep it lean and flavorful: Try grilling, broiling, roasting or baking -- methods that don't add extra fat. Spices or herbs such as dill, chili powder, paprika or cumin, and lemon or lime juice, can add flavor without adding salt.
Shellfish counts, too: Oysters, mussels, clams and calamari (squid) all supply healthy omega-3s. Try mussels marinara, oyster stew, steamed clams or pasta with calamari.
Get creative with seafood: Think beyond fish fillets. Try salmon patties, a shrimp stir-fry, grilled fish tacos, or clams with whole-wheat pasta. Add variety by trying a new fish such as grilled Atlantic or Pacific mackerel, herring on a salad or oven-baked pollock.
Use in a salad or sandwich: Top a salad with grilled scallops, shrimp or crab in place of steak or chicken.
Shop smart: Whiting, tilapia, sardines, canned tuna and some frozen seafood are usually lower-cost options. Check the local newspaper, online and at the store for sales, coupons and specials on seafood.
Grow up healthy with seafood: Omega-3 fats from seafood can help improve nervous-system development in infants and children. Serve seafood to children twice a week in portions appropriate for their age and appetite. A variety of seafood lower in mercury also should also be part of a healthy diet for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Know your portions: To get 8 ounces of seafood a week, use these as guides: A drained can of tuna is about 3 to 4 ounces, a salmon steak ranges from 4 to 6 ounces and a small trout is about 3 ounces.
Keep seafood handy: Canned seafood (think canned salmon, tuna or sardines) is quick and easy to use. Canned white tuna is higher in omega-3s, but canned "light" tuna is lower in mercury.
My delicious recipe for Pasta Puttanesca With Sardines uses inexpensive jarred sardines packed in olive oil. Sardines are sustainable and are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They are a nutritious replacement for anchovies in most recipes.
PASTA PUTTANESCA WITH SARDINES
1 pound linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 (4.25 ounce) canned or jarred sardines packed in oil, reserve the oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning blend
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon stevia, honey or sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
1 medium tomato (approximately 1/2 pound), seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces, or 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can pitted black olives, olives halved crosswise; or sliced, canned pitted black olives, drained
1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed and finely chopped
1/4 cup shredded or shaved Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water (approximately 6 quarts boiling water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt), cook the linguine according to label directions until it is al dente. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water for adding to the Pasta Puttanesca at the end of the cooking time.
2. In a large saute pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add sardines and their oil, then the garlic and Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, the honey, stevia or sugar, cloves, the red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, tomatoes, olives, and capers.
3. Turn heat to low and cook until the tomatoes are softened and the sardines are breaking apart, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the linguine to the pan, then pour in 1 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water, stirring well to combine all the ingredients. If the pasta still looks dry, add the remaining pasta cooking water, 1/2 cup at a time. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper, and the Pecorino Romano or Parmesan.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children's author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is "The Kitchen Diva's Diabetic Cookbook." Her website is www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.