Article by Chris Zellers, MPP -Assistant Professor/Educator, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Family & Community Health Sciences Department Published October 26, 2022
National Seafood month is in October and while the summer season is winding down, eating seafood year-round is a good way to add a healthy lean protein to a meal. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests choosing seafood in place of other meats for its nutrient dense content and because it is low in fat, sodium, and calories. A diet lower in saturated fat like that of seafood supports heart health, and seafood’s vitamins and minerals are needed for better immunity. About 94% of children and 80% of adults are not currently meeting the recommended allowances for seafood which are 2-3 times per week for adults to total 8 ounces per week. For children under 2 consult the child’s doctor or the academy for pediatrics. For children over two years of age the recommendation is 1 ounce twice a week and as children age, slowly increase the amounts. No recommendation is given for the increase but by age 11 it is recommended that children eat 4 ounces 2-3 times per week like adults. Recommendations for pregnant women are for 8-12 ounces per week from specifically safe species. In New Jersey we are fortunate to have access to healthy New Jersey seafood that is fresh and tasty.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and numerous studies have associated diets that are low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol with reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Seafood is a good example of a heart healthy food, and it is rich in vitamins and minerals that also boost the immune system, brain health and nervous system. Seafood can be especially important for brain development of young children and growing fetuses. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug administration (FDA) has a list of best choices, good choices, and choices to avoid for the special category of pregnant women and young children, https://www.fda.gov/media/102331/download. The advantages of eating species of seafood from the best choices and good choices list are important for proper cognitive development, spinal cord development and immune system support. A healthy eating pattern includes a variety of food from all five food groups and seafood is a lean protein that when accompanied by a variety of whole grains, low fat or fat free diary and fruits and vegetables can promote optimal health outcomes.
Finding ways to add seafood each week can contribute to better overall health and can be done easily by adding it to casseroles, as a substitute for other meats in pasta dishes, as a pizza topper or main dish. Fruits and vegetables are more cost effective during the growing season and the same holds true for seafood. To add seafood into meals try buying seafood that is in season to save money, check circulars or visit the fish monger at a local seafood store for fresh in season seafood. Purchase a less costly option that is in season to save money when buying New Jersey Seafood. Buy extra when there is a sale on seafood and freeze it to use in meals later and save more costly seafood for special occasions. White fish makes a good filler that is less expensive, try flaky white fish in tacos, stews, and casseroles. Look for something new to try, ask the fish monger or grocer what the seafood tastes like, ask if its mild or flaky when cooked and how to cook it. For cooking videos and recipes that are specific to NJ seafood visit: https://vimeo.com/getmovinggethealthynj
NJ Flounder Mediterranean Style
- ½-1 lb. fresh NJ Flounder
- 1 cup rice (Jasmine or your favorite, cooked according to package directions)
- 3 ribs celery, sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 15 oz. can tomatoes
- 3-4 cups spinach (fresh, or frozen & squeezed)
- ½ cup black (or your favorite) olives, pitted
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Prepare rice using vegetable stock or water.
- Place olive oil, onion, celery & garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Season lightly and saute 3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes & spinach then cover & simmer over low heat 5 minutes.
- Remove the cover & lay flounder on top of the cooked mixture, season the flounder lightly. Cover and simmer on low heat for 8 minutes, or until the fish flakes with a fork.
- Serve NJ Flounder Mediterranean Style over hot rice for a delicious family meal!