If you’ve spent any time watching the Food Network you know celebrity chef Melissa d’Arabian and the promise of her show, Ten Dollar Dinners: “4 people, 10 bucks, infinite possibilities.”
Well, she has another promise: 2 fish, twice a week, infinite health benefits. As a life-long fish lover and mother of four, Melissa was surprised to learn that Americans don’t even begin to come close to eating the minimum recommended 2 servings a week of fish.
“I have always been a seafood lover, and I was a seafood lover through my pregnancies. I have also tried to transfer that love of seafood to my kids so that they develop a really healthy habit early on.” Because, this classically trained chef explains, “you simply can’t beat the health benefits of fish.”

Fish is good food

Fish boosts your brain’s health and cuts your risks of heart disease by up to 30% research demonstrates. The World Health Organization recommends that everyone—including pregnant and breastfeeding women and children—eat at least 2-3 fish meals a week, or 8-12 ounces a week.
Omega 3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fish, can help prevent or diminish depression after pregnancy and birth, studies show. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing fish into your baby’s diet when you start introducing solids (around 4-6 months of age) because it boosts baby’s developing eyes and brain.
Fish can help your cholesterol, slow the build up of plaque in your arteries, help lower your blood pressure and boost your brain’s health and your eye function, says cardiovascular specialist Dr. William Castelli, who served as the third director of the renowned Framingham Heart Health Study. To encourage us to eat more seafood, Dr. Castelli and Melissa recently teamed up with the National Fisheries Institute to provide information for healthcare providers and consumers alike on the benefits of eating fish at GetRealAboutSeafood.com

Fish in pregnancy

While some fish are higher in mercury and toxins, such as albacore tuna and mackerel, Dr. Castelli says most fish is safe to eat in abundance, even in pregnancy.
“Most of the fish you would eat, the salmon and the cods are very, very low in any of these toxins.” He particularly recommends the colder water fishes, and shellfish, such as shrimp.
If the thought of seafood makes you seasick, Melissa wants to help you add fish to your family’s table. “Take a can of tuna and put it in with a little bit of olive, capers, pepper flakes, and tomatoes and make a pasta dish that has a nice little bit of spice and brininess.”
Or start with your family’s favorite flavors, like Mexican or Asian, she suggests. Add fish into tacos, taquitos or serve it with salsa on tostados with a little cilantro and a spritz of lime. To go in a different direction, try it with a little sesame oil and soy sauce in a stir fry.”
Either way, for the sake of your health and your family’s health, she’s angling to get you hooked on seafood.

Which fish to eat?

White fish like cod is a good source of low-fat protein and minerals. Oily fish such as sardines and salmon have the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. Crab, lobster and mussels are in the shellfish group and contain selenium, thought to have cancer-fighting properties.

Go Fish

Melissa d’Arabian helps you get hooked on fish:

  • Swap in fish: Take recipes you love now and use fish in pastas, burgers, quesadillas, tacos and salads
  • Stock your kitchen with fish: Stock canned tuna and salmon, as well as frozen filets
  • Make fish your “go to” meal: Most fish takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and cook


Lemony Shrimp with Asparagus

  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat blend thin spaghetti or Angel hair pasta
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about one pound), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. medium or large raw shrimp (26-30 count), shelled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest from one lemon grated on the small holes of a box grater)
  • 3/4 cup all-natural chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (juice from one lemon)
  • 1 2/3-ounce bunch fresh basil, cut into thin strips (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Yield 4 servings
Directions Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 30 seconds. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring frequently, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Push the asparagus to the side, add the remaining oil, and raise the heat to medium-high. Add the shrimp and lemon zest and cook for 2 minutes.
Whisk together the chicken broth and cornstarch and add to the pan with the lemon juice and basil. Raise the heat to high and simmer, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide the pasta evenly among four pasta bowls and top with the shrimp mixture. Top with the Parmesan cheese and pine nuts, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe Source: Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD & Liz Weiss, MS, RD; Authors of ‘No Whine With Dinner’, MealMakeoverMoms.com


Wasabi Tuna Salad and Rice Bowl

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1/2 small cabbage, shredded
  • 4 medium carrots, shredded
  • 2 5-ounce cans chunk-light tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 3 3/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Yield 4 servings
Directions Whisk first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined.
Mix cabbage, carrots and tuna and toss with wasabi dressing. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, mix rice, water, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook until all water has been evaporated and rice is completely cooked.
Divide rice among 4 bowls and top with tuna salad.


Carolyn Davis Cockey, MLS, LCCE, is founding editor of Healthy Mom&Baby, Senior Director of Partnerships & Publications at AWHONN, and a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator in Sarasota, FL.

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