I eat considerably more fish these days since I banned myself from eating processed foods. Salmon was never a favourite before I began the diet, yet it’s become a staple and I’m forever looking for new recipes to make life more interesting. We don’t always have time to be creative and let’s be honest, most of us have a food budget…sometimes, a fairly tight one. Salmon isn’t a cheap fish although you can certainly get cheap flakes in most of the supermarkets here. Lately, I’ve been bulk buying frozen from the Food Warehouse. You can get three bags for £10; usually four fillets per bag and it’s mix and match with mackerel, whitefish (6 fillets in those), rainbow trout, wild pink salmon, tuna, smoked haddock, and Atlantic cod. Most of the supermarkets sell it loose at the fish stand or prepacked; the downside to prepacked is that it’s usually sold in packs of two, and if you’re just cooking for yourself it can lead to waste (or overeating). There is a certain snobbery when it comes to fish (especially salmon) that frozen is somehow inferior – if your budget is tight I’d suggest buying frozen rather than not eat it at all. It’s also more practical if you’re like me and forget you have it in the fridge til it’s a week past its sell-by date. The method of cooking any piece of fish will ultimately determine how it tastes.
100g of salmon is around 179 calories and your average frozen fillet will weigh around 120 grams. It might sound like a lot for one small thing to eat (it is), but it is positively loaded with goodness.
Protein – 20% of the fish is protein, which means you’ll get over half your daily recommended intake per portion. Protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass during weight-loss…and ageing. It does other things too, of course, but they’re the ones I need to be concerned with.
Vitamins – B3, B6, B12, D. We’re talking beneficial for nerves ( the bodily ones as opposed to those which get frazzled), metabolism, brain, and skin. B3 is indicated for helping to lower cholesterol, reduce hardening of the arteries, and balance blood sugar levels. B6 can be useful for reducing symptoms of arthritis, improving blood flow, and because it helps the body to make melatonin – it’ll help you sleep. B12 helps convert food into the right kind of energy and helps the nervous system to work effectively which means it may help reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. All B vitamins are water soluble which means you can’t store them in the body – which means you need to regularly eat foods containing them. At least 1 in 5 people in the UK are low on Vitamin D and yet it plays a key role in bone health. It also plays a role in regulating blood sugar, supports the immune system, and can aid memory and concentration.
Minerals – Phosphorous, magnesium, potassium. Phosphorous supports the role of calcium in maintaining healthy bones. It’s another brain feeder and low levels have been connected to Alzheimer’s and dementia. Phosphorous also helps the kidneys, digestion, and most importantly, it plays a key role in synthesizing and absorbing nutrients from food. Magnesium plays a massive role in the body and yet it’s another common deficiency. In tandem with calcium in works to regulate blood pressure. It’s an excellent ‘calmer’ and in higher doses improves sleep and reduces anxiety. Low levels of magnesium have been noted in fibromyalgia, diabetes, osteoporosis, migraine, and restless leg syndrome. I love magnesium and it’s one of the few supplements I still take most days. Potassium plays a crucial role in regulating blood pressure, heartbeat, and circulation. Metabolism, bones, the nervous system, and digestion all rely on potassium to maintain health. Potassium is easy to find in foods, but keep sodium levels in check so as not to upset the balance.
Healthy Fats – Omega-3. Salmon is one of the best sources on the planet for DHA and EPA. Omega-3’s are renowned for their association with a decreased risk for heart problems and some types of cancer. They also play an important role in reducing joint inflammation and decrease the risk of macular degeneration.
Antioxidants – Salmon contains high levels of selenium and astaxanthin. These are antioxidants which help to remove the bad shit. Selenium is known to help reduce the risk of inflammation in the joints and is another important heart protector. Some studies have shown selenium may be important in cancer prevention and even slow down the progression of existing cancers. We can add thyroid regulation, reduction in asthma symptoms, and increased longevity (of life) to its list of benefits. Astaxanthin was a new one for me today. It’s responsible for the orange/red hue in seafood such as lobster and salmon. Research is thin on the ground but early reports are suggesting it may be THE antioxidant. Astaxanthin is good for your brain, eyes and heart, and can help reduce inflammation, boost male fertility and may be beneficial for cancer prevention.
If you want something simple yet tasty: Poached salmon with new potatoes, spinach, and green beans (and parsley sauce fer me). A good rule of thumb for potatoes is if you can’t eat them with the skin on, you probably shouldn’t be eating them if you’re trying to lose weight. Another good rule would be to actually weigh them…three average sized Jersey Royals will be around 200g and cost you 132 calories. Spinach and green beans are both low-cal and you can easily afford to eat half a cupful of spinach (cooked) and 50g of green beans. It’ll come in around 400 calories without sauce – you can add another 60 if you have a 1/4 packet of Schwartz creamy parsley sauce made with semi-skimmed milk. £1.82 (without sauce) for a good-sized extremely healthy dinner isn’t bad.
I tried Poached Salmon with Green Herb and Mustard Dressing the other week and liked it. It’s 362 calories plus watercress or potatoes. I went for the extra greenery with this one for fewer calories and additional vitamins A and C.
Next on the list for me to try is the Indian Salmon with Chickpea Stew. Tis slightly higher at 534 calories but the recipe is loaded with good stuff. I came across this Chilli and Garlic Blackened Salmon recipe at Lavender & Lovage this morning. Karen has many others which look absolutely delicious but you need to be mindful of calories because she doesn’t include a breakdown.
In an ideal world we should be eating salmon on a regular basis and if you don’t yet include it in your diet I’m hoping you will at least give it a try. I’m sure there will be people out there who just can’t stand the stuff, and that’s fair enough. I understand. I feel the same way about avocados; I don’t care how good for me they are, I’m not eating them. In fact, I dislike avocados more than celery; I’d be more likely to eat a whole raw onion before chomping down on even a sliver of that.