Dinners

As I’ve been trying to go lighter with my foods lately, I’ve been cooking a lot of fish. I love fish, having grown up in Norway by the sea and raised by a mother who always cooked fish in a masterful way.  Below is my dinner from three nights ago – steamed cod, edamame and roasted broccoli and sesame seeds, with a soba noodle salad and yuzu marinated mushrooms:

This is a winner and will definitely cook again! Thanks to my fabulous husband, who is so supportive of my new found healthy ways and always finds great ingredients, cooking methods and ideas for dinner!

Cod is a good low-fat, low-calorie source of protein, vitamins and minerals and ideal for dieters. 3 1/2 oz of cod gives you 80 calories, 0.7g fat, 18 g protein, 0 carbs and 0 sugars.  In general white fish such as cod, is less likely to be affected by pollution than fish that lives nearer the coasts.  Fish are great sources of omega 3-s, but you do have to watch out for heavy metals and other toxic content.  There are many seafood watch groups out there and websites that will post information about individual fish types and their potential harm.

On to other components of my dinner:

Broccoli is full of fat blasting fiber, folate and vitamins C and K.  Broccoli also contains antioxidants to help fight cancer, and has also been shown to perhaps reduce estrogen levels in the body, which in turn can prevent fat storage. 1 cup contains 31 calories, 3 g protein, 6 g carbs, 0 g fat and 2 g fiber.

Soba noodles are from Japan and made from buckwheat flour. They are very versatile – you can serve them chilled with a dipping sauce or hot in a salad (like I did) or stir fry or in a brothy soup. The best is they are very low in fat – 1 cup provides about 113 calories, 0.1 g fat (0 saturated), 0 cholesterol, 24.4 g carbs and almost 6 g of fiber.  Soba noodles also contain a type of polysaccharide that make them easy to digest as well as different antioxidants that affects memory and intelligence. You can find them in all Asian markets and many supermarkets also these days. Soba noodles are my favorite noodles next to my amazing shiratake noodles (from tofu or yam) with only 40 calories per 8 oz bag!

I am sure you are all familiar with edamame – those delicious soy snacks we often get served in Japanese restaurants, steamed and topped with sea salt? Rich in fiber and protein, these little green pods certainly qualify as a healthy snack. They are also very low in sodium and a good source of thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and copper and a very good source of Vitamin K, Folate and manganese.  I usually buy them frozen and steam them – they provide about 189 calories per 155 g, 8 g fat, 16 g carbohydrates, 8 g of fiber and 17 g of protein.

On to my dinner two nights ago – sumac crusted salmon with herbed couscous and a stir fry of asparagus and zucchini (yes, not very seasonal but they are forgiving to your waistline!) with a dollop of low fat sour cream.

Sumac is one of my favorite spices – it’s traditionally used in Middle Eastern cuisine. It comes from berries from bushes that grow wild all over the Mediterranean, and has a tart and tangy flavor that is delicious and gives a lot of exciting tastes to the dish. When dieting to lower body fat and eliminating bloat and fat so the muscles beneath can show, it’s important to avoid salt as much as possible as that has a negative effect for obvious reasons.  This is where utilizing a variety of different spices can come in handy, to add flavor and make your dishes really pop. Sumac has a variety of uses, it can be integrated into casseroles, salad dressings, dips, soups, rice dishes – you name it! Well worth seeking out the next time you are in a store or market that sells Middle Eastern products.  Because of it’s tart flavor, it is often used as a souring agent and replaced with lemon juice and vinegar.  Sumac is the major ingredient in a perhaps more well known spice mix called za’atar, delicious spread on flatbreads for instance.

Salmon is a great source for Omega 3 fatty acid, although fresh fillets are richer and oilier than its more preferable canned wild Alaskan pink salmon (which I will discuss in another post) so using it sparingly is recommended.  Fresh salmon contains 180 calories per 3 1/2 oz, 11 g fat, 20 g protein, 0 g carbs and contains useful sources of B1, niacin, B6 and B12 as well as vitamins D and E.  Also great source of minerals such as potassium, selenium and iodine.

I always have to have my grains with my meals, although I may have to give these up to if I want to load up on vegetables as well for when I’m going into contest mode. But for now, I enjoy them! So this time I chose couscous – known to be the most popular dish from Morocco and north America.

Couscous has about 176 calories in 1 cup (cooked), 0.3 g fat, 8 mg sodium, 36.5 g cabohydrates, 6 g protein, 2.2 g dietary fiber and 0.2 g sugar. It contains some calcium and iron and is very high in selenium, a good source of complex carbohydrates, not to mention it contains no cholesterol, and is very low in saturated fat, sugar and sodium. Perhaps the best thing about couscous is that it’s really quick to prepare. Because it is pre-cooked, all you have to do is boil some water (2:1 ratio) and pour over the couscous, cover it with plastic wrap and let stand for about 10 minutes, and voila – it’s done!

Asparagus and zucchini are traditionally summer vegetables and I can’t wait for them to get back in season as I love eating them! I do however cheat and eat them in the winter too, and they snuck in to my dinner because I was craving these babies.  Asparagus is a very good source of potassium and quite low in sodium. It’s also a natural diuretic, and historically was used to treat problems with swelling, such as arthritis and rheumatism.  These stems have also shown to be helpful for PMS-related water retention. 1 cup gives you 43 calories, 4.66 g protein, 7.61 carbohydrates, 2.88 dietary fiber, 2.88 g sugar and 0.56g fat.

Zucchini, also known as summer squash, is a relative of both the melon and the cucumber and come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Squash have been found to have anti-cancer effects, and is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, as well as a good source of magnesium, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, folate, copper, riboflavin and phosphorous.  1 cup provides 36 calories, 0.5 g fat, 7.76 g carbohydrates, 3.6 sugar, and 2.52 g fiber.

I am by now means a dietitian or a nutritionist, but I find it fascinating to experiment with healthy, whole foods and see what works best for my diet and body.  I feel great about avoiding processed foods and putting as little of this as possible in my body. The less unhealthy I eat, the less need I should also have for supplements in forms of tablets, to reach my top form. Not counting my daily multivitamin, fish oil, folic acid and magnesium/zinc supplement of course..
Hope I’ve inspired some to go out there and get some fish, lots of veggies and healthy, complex whole grains and cook it up for your next meal!

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