For Immediate Release: February 28, 2006
(TRENTON) – Spring is the perfect time to make some positive changes in your family’s diet and Jersey Seafood, caught or grown in New Jersey’s waters, is a healthy way to liven up meal-time.
“Quick, easy and delicious fish meals are ideal for all of the spring holidays,” said New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. “From mackerel, cod and flounder to monkfish, tilefish and whiting, there are many tasty varieties of Jersey Seafood available for health-conscious families.”
Although most health organizations highly recommend that Americans consume at least two seafood meals per week, most people fall short of that goal. The Food and Drug Administration estimates that the average American consumes only 2.292 ounces of seafood each week well below the minimum recommendation of 12 ounces per week.
Although people are aware of the some of the health benefits of fish and Omega-3 fatty acids, few people understand the full extent of the benefits that can be derived from increased seafood consumption. Omega-3 fatty acids, found primarily in seafood, provide benefits ranging from better heart health, to improved joint flexibility and mobility, to enhanced brain development and memory.
Fatty fish contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids that reduce some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including heart attack. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States although there are dietary strategies and lifestyle changes that may change this deadly statistic. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in preventing irregular heartbeat, reducing plaque build-up on the walls of the arteries, decreasing blood clotting, reducing blood fat, lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation.
Research also indicates that Omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in reducing the risk of diabetes, enhancing bone density, aiding in neonatal development, improving the appearance of the skin, reducing depression, aiding nerve function, delaying the onset and severity of Alzheimer’s disease and reducing inflammation that is found in rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Fish and shellfish are naturally low in saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium and calories. They are high in protein, vitamins and minerals and are easily digestible so all those nutrients can be quickly used by the body.
Including more fish and shellfish in the diet is just smart eating. The United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines, www.mypyramid.gov, recommend a minimum of two fish meals per week. The American Heart Association www.americanheart.org, the American Cancer Society and the National Academy of Sciences have made similar recommendations.
In a recent study conducted by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and Rutgers University, 49 percent of those surveyed indicated that the most important reason that they eat seafood is because they like the taste. Forty-one percent said that they eat seafood because they believe it is a healthy food.
In addition to tasting great and being a very nutritious food, seafood is easy to prepare and has lots of gourmet appeal. So, why aren’t people eating more seafood? Many people believe that fish is difficult to prepare when, in actuality, it is the original fast food. Most fish cooks in ten minutes or less. The recipes below are quick and easy. Using foil packets to cook your fish reduces clean up time.
The general rule is to cook fish 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. Double the cooking time for frozen fish. The ten-minute rule applies for all cooking methods except microwaving and deep-frying.
Remember fish cooks quickly. Fish is cooked when the flesh becomes opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Overcooking tends to toughen and dry fish. Be creative. Use different herbs and spices. Try other vegetables along with your seafood.
For more recipes and seafood information, visit the Jersey Seafood website at www.jerseyseafood.nj.gov or the National Fisheries Institute at www.aboutseafood.com.
FISH FILLETS WITH DILL AND LEMON
Bake uncovered at 450 ° F.
1-pound fish fillets-1Tbsp. Lemon juice-2Tbsp. Olive oil-1 Tbsp fresh dill or ½ tsp dried dill- freshly ground pepper-fresh dill or parsley for garnish
Arrange the fillets in a single layer in a baking dish. In a small dish, combine lemon juice, oil and dill; drizzle over fish. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper to taste.
Bake uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes (10 minutes per inch of thickness) or until fish is opaque. Sprinkle with fresh herbs or parsley. Garnish with lemon wedges.
Preheat oven to 450° F.
4 sheets heavy duty aluminum foil-4 fish fillets-2 scallions, chopped-1 medium zucchini sliced-2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced-2 Tablespoons olive oil-salt and freshly ground pepper-1 clove garlic minced-1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped-1/3 cup pitted, sliced kalamata olives-1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Center one fish fillet on each piece of aluminum foil. Place zucchini, tomatoes on top of each piece of fish, combine oil, garlic, herbs, olives, salt and pepper. Spoon ¼ of the mixture over each piece of fish. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with chopped scallions.
Bring up foil sides, double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for air circulation.
Bake 14-18 minutes on a cookie sheet in the oven.