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Published May 16, 2014, 08:38 AM

Prairie Fare: Fish, seafood excellent sources of protein

Every time our wedding anniversary arrives in May, I think about the date we selected. Not only was it the day I walked through the graduation ceremony for my doctorate degree, it also was the opening of fishing season.

By: Julie Garden-Robinson, INFORUM

Every time our wedding anniversary arrives in May, I think about the date we selected. Not only was it the day I walked through the graduation ceremony for my doctorate degree, it also was the opening of fishing season.

The fishing opener date was a bit of a dilemma for some of my relatives. Would any of my fishermen relatives come to our wedding? My mother was a little worried about that, so I suggested that we elope. We stayed with the fishing opener.

I wasn’t thinking much about fishing poles as I diligently completed my research and wrote my dissertation while planning the wedding. I needed to be sure I’d be ready to wear the black gown to the graduation ceremony and the white gown to the wedding. Fortunately, our evening wedding allowed people to drop a few fishing lines in a lake earlier in the day.

Therefore, every wedding anniversary reminds me of fish and seafood and is a good reminder of the current recommendation. Adults should aim to eat 8 ounces of fish and seafood per week. At the same time, we should think about the food preparation methods used for the fish. Deep-fried fish is not as healthful as grilled or broiled fish.

Meeting the recommendation could be as easy as having a tuna fish sandwich for lunch one day and a serving of grilled salmon for dinner on another day.

Fish and seafood are excellent sources of protein, and they provide a range of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids that are both heart- and brain-healthy.

Although fresh walleye, tuna and salmon can be cost-prohibitive for some, the frozen and canned versions often are more economical and equally nutritious. (Be sure to thaw frozen fish in the refrigerator because it is among our most perishable foods.)

To add flavor, sprinkle the fish or seafood with your favorite spices, then grill or broil. You can dip it in milk and roll in flour or seasoned cracker crumbs, then broil or fry in a small amount of oil. Fish is done when it flakes with a fork, so be sure not to overcook it.

Here are some ways to use canned fish such salmon and tuna in your menus:

- Serve it with pasta.

- Make a tuna casserole or use it in a macaroni salad.

- Pile it on a green salad. Adding a protein source to a lunchtime salad makes it more filling, so you are less likely to be looking for treats by midafternoon.

- Make a sandwich. Combine canned tuna or salmon with plain Greek yogurt or mayonnaise and chopped celery. Add pepper and a little salt to taste, then spread the mixture on a slice of whole-wheat bread and top with romaine lettuce, tomato slices and another slice of bread. For extra protein, chop a hard-cooked egg and add that to your mixture, too.

- Create dips and spreads. Combine canned tuna or salmon with mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt. Add salt and pepper, minced onion and preferred spices. Serve the dip with whole-wheat crackers.

- Try fish tacos. Sauté onion, tomato and tuna or salmon in a pan until heated through. Add cilantro and other veggies to add flavor. Pile the mixture onto a flour tortilla and top with a lemon wedge, avocado slice, salsa and/or sour cream.

We have amassed a few fishing poles during our marriage, but my gathering of fish and seafood happens at the grocery store or through the sharing of the “catch” from relatives.

Here’s an easy lunch featuring canned tuna. Add some carrot sticks, fresh strawberries and milk, and you have a balanced meal that will carry you through the afternoon.

Tuna Melt

2 (5-ounce) cans chunk light tuna in water, drained

¼ cup red onion, chopped

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Salsa to taste

4 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted

¼ cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat broiler. Toast bread. Combine tuna, onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salsa and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread one-fourth of the tuna mixture on each slice of toast; top with cheese. Place on a baking sheet and broil until cheese is bubbling and golden brown, three to five minutes.

Makes four servings (one open-faced sandwich per serving). Each serving has 250 calories, 7 grams of fat, 32 g of protein, 21 g of carbohydrate and 400 milligrams of sodium.


Garden-Robinson is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.

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