Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Get Your Brain Food

Hi everyone! Happy hump day! :)

Thanks so much for all of your great comments yesterday!

I have been CRAVING some fresh fish for a few days now, and last night I was finally able to tackle (hehe) my craving.

My Granddad always told me it was important to eat fish because it was "brain food." Since I hold any advice my Granddad ever gave me in great esteem, I try to eat fish at LEAST once a week.

My (casual, I am not a registered dietitian or nutritionist) research has revealed, not surprisingly, that my Granddad was right.

Fish, in general, is healthy because it is high in protein and lower in total fat, saturated fat (aka "bad" fat), and calories, than a comparable portion of poultry or other meat.

As far as the "brain" benefits go, oily fish like salmon can help boost your memory and concentration vis-a-vis the omega-3 fatty acids. Um, I'd like an salmon IV while I am studying for the Bar exam this summer, please!

The American Heart Association also boosts the support of oily fishies, saying that omega-3 fatty acids benefit the hearts of healthy people, and those at risk for cardiovascular disease. This is tres (very) important, because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

So, now that I have you all sold on this, how can you actually get your brain food?

I will be the first to admit that one of the MOST intimidating things I faced when I started to cook for myself (only about 2 and a half years ago) was the thought of cooking fish.  Fish was something I only really enjoyed at a restaurant on a beach vacation.  I loved it, but I was convinced there was no way I could cook it on my own and have it still be edible.

Enter my roommate from my first year in Chicago, Lauren, who eased my fears and showed me a great way to prepare our delicious water friends at home (thanks girl!).

I tweaked my approach along the way, and I have decided to share it now with you. You're welcome! ;)

So today I'm going to talk about the way I do salmon, I'll leave the other fishies for another date.

Let's talk first about where to get quality salmon. I all but refuse to get salmon from a cheapie grocery store. The thought just kind of grosses me out.  I prefer to buy salmon from either Whole Foods or directly from a fish market.  It is more expensive, so when I do it, it is a "treat."

Last night, I got my salmon from Whole Foods. I went up to the fish counter thinking to myself, "I know I'm supposed to get the wild salmon, but I don't really know why..." The fish genius then asked me what I wanted and I just said "some Salmon, two portions, with the skin off, please."  Of course, he asked the dreaded question, "What kind?" I then said, "I know I'm supposed to get the wild, right?"

To move this story along, he explained to me that they had an organic Icelandic fresh, farm-raised salmon or a previously frozen wild salmon.  The Icelandic salmon was antibiotic & hormone free, blah blah blah.  He basically told me that because it was organic, it was fine to go with the farm-raised, and it would have a more "mild" taste. The last thing I wanted was a fishy fish, I'd really rather have fresh fish, and this guy was pretty darn convincing (I have been told I am a marketer's dream), so I went with the farm-raised. I'm new to this whole organic business, so I'm not sure if he was right -- please enlighten me if you know more on this particular subject (organic farm-raise salmon vs. wild salmon).

On to the good stuff...

I've been on a barbecue salmon kick lately.  Since it is still cold outside and we have not had opening day for the patio yet, the only thing that is really "barbecue" about this recipe is the sauce...hey, you do what you can, right?!

Jessica's Dummie-Proof BBQ Salmon: 

1 tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil -- I can probably stop spelling this out now, right?)
1 tsp. of Dijon or Stone Ground Mustard
1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/2 tsp. of the minced garlic you might keep in your fridge, like me!)
Lemon Juice
Seasoning (your choice, I like Nature's Seasoning)
Salmon, with the skin off (I'd go with one, 6 to 8 ounce portion, per person -- our pieces last night were HUGE, but we had just finished our run and we were pretty hungry!)

Step #1: Now, in a large frying pan, over medium-high heat, add your EVOO, Garlic, Mustard, and fill it up so that the entire bottom of the pan is covered with lemon juice (this is a judgement call, see the picture below for some guidance), and stir it all around.

Step #2: While your oil & such are heating up, season both sides of your pieces of salmon (I sprinkle a little Nature's Seasoning on mine).

Step #3: Add your Salmon to the pan, and cook it for about 3 to 4 minutes on the first side (I like to start with the "icky side" down), depending on the size of your pieces. I like to cover my salmon with a lid while I'm cooking it (see below), to "steam" it and ensure it cooks all the way through the middle.

Step #4: Then you are going to flip them! The flipping is the HARDEST part. I try to use 2 utensils to avoid having the Salmon break apart, but if it does, it is okay! Don't fret, it still tastes the same :) There always seems to be a little skin left on the "icky" side, which I promptly (but gently) scrape off with a spoon and dispose once the Salmon is flipped.

Step #5: After you flip the pieces, cook the salmon on the second side for about another 3 minutes.  About 30 seconds or so before this time is up, take a pastry brush (or a small spoon) and brush (or spread) a small amount of the barbecue sauce on top of the salmon fillets.

Step #6: Flip the salmon over, once again, and brush (or spread) the other side with barbecue sauce. Let it cook for about another 30 seconds, and transfer the pieces, pretty side up, to a plate.

Step #7: Serve up your delicious brain food with your veggies/sides of choice!

(See ours broke a little, it's okay though, Justin still cleaned his plate!) 

We went with some green beans and my taters of choice for a little carbage:

Alexia's All-Natural Oven Reds with Olive Oil, Parmesan, & Roasted Garlic! These guys are pretty low in the calories & fat (8 potatoes for 120ish calories and 3.5 grams of fat), and reasonable in carbs (about 19 grams per serving).

I know it seems like there's a lot of steps here, but it's just because I wanted to give you detail. Trust me, once you make this meal one time, it's super easy to re-create, and you will be so happy to have this in your "tool box." Such a delicious, satisfying, brain-boosting meal.

**Something to talk about: Do you cook fish @ home, or only reserve it for restaurants? What is your favorite kind of fish to make @ home?

Don't forget -- today is the LAST day to comment on a post or start following me to get your name put in the pot for the giveaway (a CamelBak water bottle, $10 Starbuck's giftcard, Larabars, and an extra SECRET surprise!).

I'm going to pick the winner tonight at 9PM central time, and will announce tomorrow morning!

Today is full of classes, and we have our "sprints" tonight (eeeek!).

Have a happy & healthy day!



1 comment:

  1. I miss cooking with you, Jess! Thanks for including me! We should cook together sometime soon! :)