Children and Fish

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I rarely ate fish growing up. However, fish is a favorite of my children. We usually eat it for dinner once a week.

You may be wondering if I am worried about my children being exposed to mercury in the fish I feed them. The answer is no because I choose fish that the EPA and FDA have designated safe to eat including cod, pollock, salmon, and tilapia. This chart has great advice on the appropriate types and amounts of fish for children and pregnant women. It is safe for children ages 2 years and older to eat one or two servings of fish per week. Eating fish may even have lifelong health benefits. These include brain function and prevention of chronic disease.

Adding fish, or any food, to the menu at home can be tricky. Family members of all ages may not be comfortable with new foods. Here are some of the things I try:

  • Stick with it for the long haul. The more they see the food, the more likely they are to try it (and like it). It may take weeks, months, or years, but they will eventually try it.
  • Serve it with other things they like. Favorite side dishes can make a new food more appealing. * Serve it as part of a mixed dish. Our Fish and Noodle Skillet is a great way to include fish with other tasty foods your family members may like.

Try adding fish to your weekly menu. Let us know how it goes!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Safe Seafood

We are starting to get a few days of beautiful weather here in Iowa and for me that means firing up the grill! I love to cook food on my grill and one of my favorites is salmon. I have heard from several friends that they are unsure about cooking fish at home and sometimes they are concerned about food safety and seafood. Today I have rounded up some top safety tips related to seafood to help you feel confident cooking fish at home.

  • Choose fish that has been kept at a safe temperature. In Iowa, that often means that fish is frozen when we buy it. Frozen fish is often very high quality and some fish in the fresh case at my store was previously frozen. Fish should smell mild. Flesh should be firm and eyes should be clear on whole fish. When buying frozen fish, choose packages that are free of frost.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw fish and keep raw fish separate from ready-to-eat foods. Clean surfaces and kitchen tools that touched raw fish with hot soapy water.
  • If you plan to eat your fish within two days, you can store it in the refrigerator. If it will be longer before you eat it, store it in the freezer. You can defrost fish in the microwave, but for the best results, thaw fish in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Cook fish to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cooked fish is safe at room temperature for up to two hours unless the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. On very hot days, refrigerate fish within one hour.
  • If you enjoy fishing, put fish you plan to eat in a cooler of ice immediately.

The Food and Drug Administration has a helpful website related to keeping seafood safe. I hope these tips help you feel confident cooking seafood at home. Next week Justine will share some information related to serving seafood to children. Please share your favorite seafood dishes on our social media!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Baked Fish and Chips

The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipe of the month for April is Baked Fish and Chips.  There are many reasons that I love this recipe.  Here are a few:

  • It is lower in calories and fat than fish and chips from a restaurant.
    • Fast food fish and chips – 720 calories, 35 grams fat
    • Baked Fish and Chips – 410 calories, 7 grams fat
  • It is less expensive than fish and chips from a restaurant.
    • Fast food fish and chips – $5.99 per serving
    • Baked Fish and Chips – $1.24 per serving
  • It works with any kind of fish you have on hand or that you like.
  • It is delicious – my family eats every last bite of this meal when I make it.

If, like me, you like tartar sauce with your fish, but do not want to buy an entire bottle – you can make your own.  Just mix two tablespoons of mayonnaise with two tablespoons of pickle relish.  You can adjust the amounts of mayo and relish to your tastes.

I hope you enjoy our April recipe – Baked Fish and Chips!

https://spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/recipe/baked-fish-and-chips/

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Enjoying Seafood in a Land-locked State

ThinkstockPhotos-509809136I have an uncle who worked for years as a sea captain. He is retired now, but has many stories of his time traveling the world on a tanker ship. He often says you should not eat certain seafood unless you are within ‘spitting distance’ of the ocean. Please pardon the picture that might put in your head!

I always found that funny as a child and as an adult I have come to wonder if it is really true. We in Iowa live in a land-locked state, so access to fresh seafood from the ocean is pretty limited. Fresh seafood is very expensive here and by the time it arrives in Iowa it needs to be prepared very quickly to maintain quality and food safety. Most of us don’t have the resources to work with that kind of product. Instead, we make use of frozen options. But is frozen fish really as good as fresh?

Frozen fish is similar to frozen vegetables in that they are frozen immediately upon harvest so the product’s freshness and quality is preserved very well. In fact, wild caught fish is often frozen right on board the ship when it is caught. Fresh seafood that is harvested in this part of the country like catfish and trout may be available fresh at a reasonable price, particularly during certain times of year. However, frozen seafood is a great option year round.

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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What is the Story with Mercury in Fish?

ThinkstockPhotos-512452568You may have heard on the news that we should be concerned about mercury in fish.  Nearly all fish contain traces of mercury. Mercury is found naturally in aquatic environments. It is absorbed by fish and can accumulate in their bodies, especially in larger fish and fish that live longer. Too much mercury can be harmful for humans, especially for an unborn baby or a growing, developing child. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children avoid certain types of fish high in mercury and limit weekly seafood consumption to less than 12 ounces. Most Americans consume well below this guideline.

Many commonly eaten fish like shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish are low in mercury.

Large fish that tend to be higher in mercury include: shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

You can eat fish and avoid dangerous amounts of mercury by choosing from the lower mercury options. If you would like to learn more about healthy seafood choices, visit the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Fish and Shellfish website.

Written by: Frances Armstead, dietetic intern and Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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One Fish Two Fish

Pan Fried FishFish is a nutrient-rich, high-quality protein that provides many health benefits. Most fish can be classified into two major categories, oily or “fatty” fish and non-fatty fish. In this case, “fatty” should not worry you. Fatty fish are very healthy to eat.

Fatty fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for growth, development, and brain function. Omega-3’s also may help prevent chronic disease. Some examples of fatty fish include tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel.

Non-fatty fish are typically white-fleshed fish. White fish still contain some healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Some examples of white fish include tilapia, cod, and haddock.

For those of us living in the center of the United States, access to fresh fish is pretty limited and when it is available, it is very expensive. Taking advantage of frozen fish options can make eating seafood more affordable, and in many cases, frozen fish can be just as delicious as the catch of the day. Here are some of our favorite fish recipes from Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

Written by: Frances Armstead, dietetic intern and Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Fish Sandwich

fish sandwich-webMy husband gets excited this time of year for fish sandwiches. He loves that he can get a deal on fish sandwiches at one of his favorite fast food restaurants. A few years ago, I decided to try to make a homemade fish sandwich that would be heathier, less expensive, and tastier than his fast food favorite.

The recipe I came up with is our March recipe of the month. You simply coat fish in a mixture of cornmeal and seasonings and lightly pan fry it in a small amount of oil. Top with your favorite sandwich toppings and enjoy!  At 300 calories and 10 grams of fat (the fast food version is 390 calories and 19 grams of fat) and less than a dollar a sandwich, I know that I succeeded in making a healthier and less expensive sandwich. I think this sandwich is tastier than the fast food version, but I suspect that my husband still likes the deep fat fried version better. I hope that after trying this recipe, you will agree with me!

Fish Sandwich

Serving Size: 4fish sandwich label-web
Serves: 1 sandwich
Cost Per Serving: $0.91
Ingredients: 
  • 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 4 frozen filets (about 3 ounces each) of white fish (tilapia), thawed
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Optional sandwich toppings: sliced onions and tomatoes, leaf lettuce, light ranch dressing or tartar sauce
Instructions: 
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot. Spread the cornmeal on a plate and press the fish into the cornmeal to coat on all sides.
  • Fry the fish in the hot oil until the cornmeal is lightly browned. This will take about 2–3 minutes on each side. Fish is done when the internal temperature reaches 145˚F or it flakes easily with a fork.
  • Move the fish from the frying pan to a plate lined with paper towels. Pat the fish dry with more paper towels.
  • Assemble sandwiches with your favorite toppings.
Tips: 
  • Thaw fish in the refrigerator overnight.
  • For more flavor, mix 1 teaspoon seasoning with cornmeal before coating fish. Seasoning might be lemon pepper, pepper, garlic powder, or chili powder.
  • Make homemade tartar sauce. Stir light mayo or salad dressing with pickle relish.
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Pan Fried Tilapia with Orange Sauce

pan fried tilapia

Growing up, we pretty much stuck to breaded fish sticks and squares and then for special occasions – shrimp cocktail. Once in a while my mom bought frozen fish and dipped it in egg and then cornmeal and fried it. As an adult, knowing fish was good for me (great protein plus low in calories and fat), I used to buy those frozen rectangles of raw fish, but prying frozen fillets apart was not fun.

Now I buy bags of individually frozen tilapia fillets. They come in packs (usually 2 or 3 pounds) that cost $2-3 per pound. I love that I can just pull out the number of fillets I need and defrost them.

This month’s featured recipe, Pan Fried Tilapia with Orange Sauce is delicious, easy and fast! You’ll want to have the table set and the rest of your meal ready to go when you start this. I usually serve it with a salad and frozen peas or broccoli. Sometimes I add brown rice.

Other kinds of fish work in this recipe also. Try it with domestic mahi-mahi, halibut or swai which is a white-flesh fish with a mild taste and light flaky texture. Swai is often less expensive than other kinds of fish.

Pan Fried Tilapia with Orange Sauce

Serving Size: 1 fillet of fish (about 3 ounces) | Serves: 4 | Cost Per Serving: $1.44

pan fried tilapia label

Ingredients: 

  • 4 small frozen tilapia fillets (about 1 pound total)
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram or Italian seasoning
  • 1 orange

Instructions: 

  1. Defrost and pat dry tilapia with paper towel.
  2. Put flour, garlic powder, pepper, and salt in a plastic bag. Add fillets one at a time and shake to coat.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot.
  4. Add fillets to skillet and fry until golden brown on one side (about 2 minutes). Turn fish over, sprinkle with marjoram or Italian seasoning, and finish browning (heat fish to at least 165°F).
  5. Heat orange for 10 seconds in microwave. Cut in half. Squeeze half the juice and pulp from the orange on the fish. Use the other half for garnish.
  6. Place fish on a platter. Scrape the pan juices on top of the fish to serve.

Try Canned Salmon in Wraps

salmon Wrap with noteI can’t remember ever having salmon when I was a kid. The only canned fish we ate was tuna. As an adult I love to order grilled salmon, but I was not familiar with canned salmon until a couple of years ago. I started actively trying to get fish into my diet a couple of times a week, as advised by the 2010  Dietary Guidelines for Americans to increase my intake of omega-3 fatty acids, and discovered canned salmon in the process.

 

Here are a few things about salmon I have learned:

  • Generally, the redder the salmon the more expensive it is and the more fat it contains.
  • Pink and chum salmon are your best buy.
  • Canned salmon comes in a variety of sizes: the tall, 15½-ounce can contains about 2 cups; the 7¾-ounce can contains 1 cup; the 3¾-ounce can contains about ½ cup.
  • Canned salmon contains high-quality protein. It has a higher fat content than  white fish, but 3½ ounces of canned salmon contains less fat than 3½ ounces of broiled, lean ground beef.
  • The canning process makes salmon bones soft and digestible. When you mash the bones with a fork and mix into the flaked salmon no one will notice and you will get about 290 mg of calcium in a half cup of salmon (that’s the same amount as you get in a glass of milk).
  • Salt is added to canned salmon during processing. Draining and rinsing salmon reduces the sodium by about half.

These Salmon Wraps are a great for hot summer days. No cooking to heat up the kitchen and you can make them ahead. I have served them as both an entrée and as an appetizer. The most important thing to remember is to make sure all the ingredients are not too juicy. Pat the lettuce leaves dry, scoop the center out of the cucumber etc.  You can use tuna in the recipe, but you will get fewer omega-3 fatty acids.

Salmon Wraps

Serves: 6 | Serving Size: 1 wrap | Per Serving: $1.27

Ingredients:

salmon wraps label

4 ounces low fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)

1 can (14.75 ounces) salmon

3 tablespoons light Italian dressing

¼ teaspoon black pepper

6 (8-inch) whole wheat tortillas

Rinsed lettuce or spinach leaves

1 cucumber

1 tomato

Directions:

1. Soften cream cheese in medium bowl or microwave for 10 seconds.

2. Wipe top of salmon can before opening. Drain salmon in a colander and rinse with water.

3. Add salmon, dressing, and pepper to cream cheese in medium bowl. Stir to blend.

4. Spread ⅓ cup filling on each tortilla. Spread to the edges.

5. Slice tomato thinly and cut slices in half.

6. Peel cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds with a spoon. Cut in half crosswise. Lay on flat side and cut into narrow strips (⅓ inch in diameter).

7. Lay lettuce or spinach leaves in the center of the tortilla. Top with tomato and cucumber down the center of the tortilla.

8. Roll up tightly. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Peggy Signature

Crispy Salmon Patties

I grew up on a farm in northwest Iowa.  My dad raised hogs, beef, soybeans and corn.  Guess how many times we had salmon when I was growing up.  That’s right,  NEVER.

Fresh, frozen and canned fish now is much more available and I enjoy it regularly.

The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish, especially oily fish, at least twice a week. Examples of fish relatively high in omega-3 fatty-acids include salmon, trout and herring.  In the last few years I started enjoying salmon, both frozen and canned.  At first I was dismayed by the appearance of canned salmon because the skin and bones were included, but now when the salmon is drained and combined with the other ingredients I don’t notice them.

Our Crispy Salmon Patties are very easy to make plus they are one of my “Go To” recipes (the ones you always keep the ingredients on hand and are fast).   When you make these try to move the patties as little as possible so they don’t break apart.  I freeze any leftovers and take them for lunch.  Besides providing great protein one salmon patty provides as much calcium as a glass of milk!

Crispy Salmon Patties

Serves: 6
Serving Size: 1 Patty
Per Serving: $.52

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14.75-ounce) can salmon, drained
  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread, shredded, or 5 crushed saltine crackers
  • 3 green onions, including the green stems, or 1/3 cup white onion, chopped fine (about 1/3 medium onion)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced, or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dash black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon seasoning (paprika, chili powder, or dill weed)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil or olive oil

Directions:

  1. Mash any cooked bones and skin in the salmon.  Break into chunks with fork.
  2. Break egg into a large bowl. Whisk with fork. Add salmon, bread or crackers, onion, garlic, pepper, and additional seasoning. Mix gently.
  3. Form into 6 patties about ½ inch thick.
  4. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Place patties in hot oil skillet. Leave skillet uncovered. Cook 3 minutes. Turn over patties with a spatula. Cook the other side 3-4 minutes to a temperature of 145° F.
  5. Serve immediately. Makes a good sandwich with whole wheat bread, tomato, lettuce, and onions.

http://recipes.extension.iastate.edu/2011/12/19/crispy-salmon-patties/

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