Considering the countless foods now recommended for optimum health, eating all the right ones in just the right proportions isn’t always easy. Unfortunately, some of the healthiest foods are the ones many people find hardest to swallow. This is especially true when it comes to fish and seafood.
According to the FDA, we should include at least two portions of fish and seafood in our diets each week. These menu items are loaded with vital nutrients, including protein, iodine, vitamin D and those all-powerful omega-3 fatty acids so essential for brain and body function. Despite being such a crucial component in our diets, plenty of people shy away from seafood and fish. Some insist they don’t care for it while others just aren’t quite sure what to do with it.
Combatting the Common Problems
In terms of so many people wrinkling their noses at fish and seafood, most people just aren’t familiar with what could be considered real versions of these foods. They’ve had minced, mangled, imitation options readily available in the canned meat and freezer sections of the local supermarket. Those aren’t even comparable to the real thing. Having fresh fish and seafood delivered to your door is a helpful solution to this issue.
Now to address the second problem. What do you do with flavorful, nutrient-packed, truly fresh fish and seafood? Finding some recipes your family will love, children included, will help ensure it’s actually eaten after it reaches the table.
Family-Friendly Fish and Seafood Meal Ideas
Cooking a fish or seafood-based meal everyone will sit down and eat isn’t exactly a simple feat. In some cases, even the though of those items being in a dish will send your family running for the local pizzeria. Still, there are plenty of meal ideas are out there, and your family is sure to love a number of them.
1) Salmon Patties
For this dish, you’ll need roughly a pound of boneless salmon fillets. The recipe will feed about four extremely hungry people with enough left over for lunch or a snack the following day. Be sure to remove any tiny bones left in the salmon. If there’s a chance your family will balk at black or grayish pieces in the patties, don’t hesitate to slice off the skin with a sharp fillet knife as well.
From there, coarsely chop the salmon. Place it in a bowl and add about a half a cup of corn meal mix, some salt and pepper, a quarter cup of finely diced onion and a couple slices of finely diced bell pepper if desired. Be careful with the peppers and onions because they could easily overpower the salmon. Mix in a couple tablespoons of cooking oil and four raw eggs as well to hold the mixture together during cooking.
This mixture should resemble thick, lumpy pancake batter. If it doesn’t, add more corn meal mix or eggs depending on whether it’s too thick or thin. Then, heat oil in a frying pan and dip a couple spoons full of the mixture per patty into the pan. Use less for smaller patties and more for larger ones. Fry until golden brown on each side and place on paper towels to drain.
This recipe combines the health benefits of fish and eggs with the fried taste and texture so many people love. The corn meal mix adds a nice bread-like texture to mask the fish for those who think they don’t care for it. Although the patties don’t actually need any dipping sauce, tartar sauce works well with them. If you’re feeding picky little ones, ketchup also supplements this dish nicely. Tuna fillets can also be used rather than salmon if you prefer.
2) Homemade Fish Sticks
When making homemade fish sticks, tilapia is usually advised. In truth, though, any type of white fish is acceptable. Panko makes for a light, crispy breading, but it’s not the only option. If desired, dip cut-up fish fillets in buttermilk and bread them with flour. Alternatively, you could use an egg wash and dry mashed potato flakes as a crust. The egg wash will help the crust to stick to the fish.
These fish sticks can be baked in the oven or deep fried. While deep-fried dishes aren’t exactly considered healthy, they’re undeniable favorites among the old and young alike. This makes them an easy way to encourage the little ones to eat fresh fish. Again, tartar sauce or ketchup makes for an alluring dipping sauce depending on your family’s preferences.
3) Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and grits may be stereotyped as a strictly southern dish, but countless variations are available. This meal can be customised in any number of ways to suit your family’s preferences. If you’re not sure where to begin, use this recipe as a guideline. Add pepper flakes for extra heat or leave them out for a milder dish.
Any mild variety of onion can be used in the place of scallions. Fresh shrimp already deveined and ready to eat make the whole process much simpler. Keep in mind, though, no brand of instant grits is capable of replicating the taste and texture of stone-ground alternatives. They’re well worth the extra time needed to cook them. At the same time, using chicken broth instead of water helps keep them from clumping so badly and adds extra flavor.
4) Popcorn Shrimp
Breaded and fried seems to be a running theme, but it’s a surefire way of getting seafood into your family’s diet without having to fight the little ones. Smaller varieties of shrimp tend to work best here, such as wild rock shrimp.
You’ll need to mix an egg with half a cup of milk in a bowl. Pour flour into another bowl, and place breadcrumbs into a third one. Dip the fresh shrimp into the flour and shake off any excess. Then, dip them into the milk and egg mixture. From there, coat them in breadcrumbs and place them in hot oil to fry.
In the end, you’ll have a seafood spin on the classic chicken nuggets kids so often enjoy. Popcorn shrimp makes a simple finger food and is a bite-sized alternative to some other shrimp-based dishes. Use cocktail or tartar sauce or, again, the classic ketchup if desired.
In a Word
Fish and seafood offer a long list of health benefits, but they usually tend to linger at the bottom of most families’ lists of favourites. This doesn’t mean they have to be left out altogether. These recipes can help boost their popularity. Once you’ve convinced your family seafood and fish don’t have to be the enemy, you might find any number of ways to incorporate them into your weekly meal plans.