FOOD OF THE MONTH: FISH
We all know that fish is good for us, but it can never hurt to remind ourselves why. Fish is an excellent high protein, low fat meat, which contains EFAs (essential fatty acids), namely omega 3.
To recap - the balance of omega 6 (n6) and omega 3 (n3) is crucial to the optimal functioning of the body, as omega 6s tend to be pro-inflammatory and pro-thrombotic (useful in immune responses), whilst omega 3s are anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic. The EFAs should ideally be eaten in the ratio 2:1 (n6:n3) to correctly balance these effects, however the Western diet can be nearer 20:1 (our tendency to pick the burger rather than the trout).
A world view...
Communities eating the highest amounts of omega 3 seem to be those who enjoy longer life, better health and the lowest levels of depression. In Japan, where around 3 oz fish is eaten a day, heart disease is at some of the lowest rates globally. Omega 3 also increases brain serotonin and so has also proven beneficial in boosting mood and cognitive function.
As a runner the anti-inflammatory properties of fish are especially compelling. Exercise related tissue damage and inflammation is a by-product of a high weekly mileage, and so whilst it may be tempting to pack in the calories from unhealthy fare (because you can) it's worth upping your intake of anti-inflammatory foods to fuel your recovery and serve as your nutritional ibuprofen!
For interest, oily fish are termed such because the oil is distributed throughout the fish, whilst the oil white fish is concentrated primarily in the liver. Oily fish contain higher levels of omega 3, and varieties include mackerel, tuna, herring, anchovy, salmon and trout. This month's recipes contain an oily fish - trout, and a fish stew which requires white fish fillets, but you can very much freestyle your fish choice for each according to preference.
If you're a veggie then you can up your omega 3s with flax and linseed oil, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and butternuts. You can also buy fish oil capsules if you’re concerned about your daily intake, but it’s far better to boost your diet than your supplement use.
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Spicy Fish Stew (serves 4)
This meal is so easy to make, and takes only 15-20 minutes including all preparation and cooking! At under 150 kcals you can serve this as a great lunchtime dish with bread, or add lots of steamed veggies on the side for dinner.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp paprika
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 red pepper, deseeded, cut into chunks
- 450g white fish fillets, cut into chunks
- handful coriander , roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Heat oil in a saucepan. Tip in the garlic, cumin and paprika and cook for 1 min.
- Add 100ml water and the tomatoes. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat.
- Add the pepper, simmer for 5 mins.
- Add the fish, simmer for 5 mins. Serve with coriander and a wedge of lemon.
Nutritional information: 143 kcalories, protein 2g, carbohydrate 5g, fat 4 g, saturated fat 1g, fibre 1g, sugar 4g, salt 0.28 g
Thai-style steamed fish (serves 2)
This is an extremely light meal yet absolutely delicious with the garlic, chilli and ginger all providing a wonderful fusion of flavours, whilst also yielding anti-inflammatory benefits. Serve with jasmine rice or brown rice, and any additional vegetables you desire. You can switch the fish if you can’t find trout or don’t enjoy this fish.
- 2 trout fillets, each weighing about 140g/5oz
- a small knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, chopped
- 1 small red chilli (not bird's eye), seeded and finely chopped
- grated zest and juice of 1 lime
- 3 baby pak choi, each quartered lengthways
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- Nestle the fish fillets side by side on a large square of foil and scatter the ginger, garlic, chilli and lime zest over them.
- Drizzle the lime juice on top and then scatter the pieces of pak choi around and on top of the fish.
- Pour the soy sauce over the pak choi and loosely seal the foil to make a package, making sure you leave space at the top for the steam to circulate as the fish cooks.
- Steam for 15 minutes. (If you haven't got a steamer, put the parcel on a heatproof plate over a pan of gently simmering water, cover with a lid and steam.)
Perk up your rice: Try serving with Thai jasmine rice, and if you've got some sesame seeds, toast a handful and toss them into the rice just before serving.
Nutritional information: 199 kcalories, protein 29g, carbohydrate 4g, fat 7 g, saturated fat 2g, fibre 0g, Salt 3.25 g.