With many families looking to re-establish routines after two years of pandemic living, making health-conscious decisions at dinnertime is more important than ever. More than one-third of Canadian families are already including more heart-healthy fish and seafood dishes in their meal-planning—while others may be interested, but don’t know where to start. Luckily, there’s help for seafood-curious families who also care about sustainability.
Seafood can lead to a healthier body and mind
You’ve probably heard seafood has some serious health benefits. Emerging research shows that eating seafood at least twice a week can be beneficial to both brain and heart health (thanks to the abundance of omega-3s and other nutrients fish provides) and might even improve your mood—that’s why Canada’s Food Guide recommends at least two servings per week for anyone over the age of two. We’re also all concerned about immunity these days, and the nutritional content of seafood can keep our immune systems strong as well.
“Seafood truly is a perfect protein,” says registered dietitian Carrie Walder. “Besides being a high-quality protein full of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids needed for brain development and function, it’s also packed with tons of essential amino acids and micronutrients like selenium, iron, vitamin D and a range of B vitamins.”
Fish and seafood is delicious and easier to cook than you may think
When it comes to introducing the brain boosting benefits of seafood to young children, start early and choose a mild-tasting fish like cod or sole. Mixing it into a pasta sauce or making kid-friendly fish cakes with a tasty dip are good ways to get cautious eaters on board. Canadian chef Charlotte Langley’s recipe for Flaked Wild Halibut Salad with a Crunchy Seed Topper in the free downloadable MSC Ocean Cookbook 2022 features bite-sized chunks of halibut and a family-appropriate sweet honey mustard dressing.
“Pacific halibut has always been a favourite for its versatility and delicate flavour,” Langley says. “If you’re looking for a more cost-effective option, swap the halibut for cod or haddock. When harvested sustainably and prepared healthily, they all make a perfect, easy mid-week meal that’s a win-win for our health and ocean health.”
When in doubt, swap in seafood
Wild-caught fish naturally has a smaller carbon footprint than many meat proteins. If you’re still not sure how to incorporate seafood into your daily routine, consider preparing the same dishes you normally make, but using seafood in place of chicken, beef or pork. You can still enjoy some of your favourite meals while doing your body and the planet a favour.
“Try adding canned salmon, tuna or even lobster to scrambled eggs, pasta, casseroles, noodle soups and wraps for a new twist on family favourites,” Walder says, adding that frozen fish fillets make a great substitute for chicken breasts in almost any dish—including family-friendly taco nights. Added bonus: Fish is even faster to cook than chicken.