If you’re trying to lose a beer gut or the few pounds that have creeped on with one (or a few) too many TV dinners, know there are several ways to prepare healthy meals using seafood. If you don’t live near a coastline the catch of the day might come from your grocery store instead, but there’s a ton of options for every palate and fishy preference.
Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports that 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean for the primary food source, and that seafood provides more protein on a global scale than cattle, sheep, and poultry. Seafood is generally easy to digest and contains amino acids that our bodies can’t produce themselves. Fish and other seafood are also high in vitamins A and D, phosphorous, and magnesium, not to mention the omega-3 fatty acids that can protect against heart disease and stroke.
Many Americans don’t consume the levels of recommended omega-3 fatty acids they should. Because of its high protein, low-calorie content, seafood is also great for building muscle and shedding the pounds. If you’re concerned about your heart health on top of wanting to slim down, there are ways to prepare seafood that don’t include dredging it in butter. (If it’s an occasional treat, carry on.) Here are a few top recipes that will supply that seafood cuisine you’re craving without adding to your waistline.
1. Grilled Salmon and Zucchini with Red Pepper Sauce
Salmon sometimes gets a bad rap in the dieting world because of its fattier makeup and higher calorie count than some other fish. But Livestrong explains that the calories you do consume are also packed with nutrients and a ton of protein, which means you’ll feel full for longer. Livestrong suggests trying the Coho or Sockeye varieties, both of which can supply up to 40% of necessary protein with just a 3-ounce serving. Eat This, Not That! writes that wild versions are better for your weight loss goals because farmed salmon are fattened up on fishmeal.
Fitness offers this salmon dish that won’t let you down on flavor, and also incorporates some veggies you might otherwise neglect. The publication reports each serving contains 280 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 32 grams of protein. (If you prepare it as directed, you’ll have four servings.)
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds, toasted
- ¼ cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
- ¼ cup halved grape tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or red-wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon paprika, preferably smoked
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
- 1¼ pounds wild-caught salmon fillet, skinned and cut crosswise into 4 portions
- 2 medium zucchini, or summer squash (or 1 of each), halved lengthwise
- Canola or olive oil cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Directions: Preheat grill to medium. Process almonds, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, oil, vinegar, paprika,¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth; set aside. Coat salmon and zucchini (and/or summer squash) on both sides with cooking spray, then sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Grill, turning once, until the salmon is just cooked through and the squash is soft and browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the squash to a clean cutting board. When cool enough to handle, slice into ½-inch pieces. Toss in a bowl with half of the reserved sauce. Divide the squash among 4 plates along with a piece of salmon topped with some of the remaining sauce. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
2. Snapper Tacos with Tomato and Avocado Salad
If using more than 10 ingredients isn’t really what you had in mind, there’s plenty of simple seafood recipes that are full of flavor. Snapper, and red snapper in particular, is also high in omega-3 fatty acids but is more renowned for its high levels of selenium, which can help prevent rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and perhaps even cancer. The fish is also high in potassium and Vitamin A, SFGate reports.
Men’s Fitness provides this simple and healthy version of fish tacos, relying on the grill to give the fish an extra boost of flavor. The recipe makes two servings that are 422 calories each and contain just 1 gram of fat but a whopping 49 grams of protein.
- 1 pound snapper fillets
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 4 corn tortillas
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1 avocado, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Juice of ½ lime
Directions: Heat grill to high. Cut two slits on skin side of each snapper fillet. Season fish with salt and pepper, and coat both sides with nonstick cooking spray. Lay fish skin-side down on grill and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until you see dark grill marks. Flip and cook another 5 to 8 minutes or until fish is white and flaky; if it sticks to the grill, wait a minute before flipping. Remove from heat. Place tortillas on grill and heat until soft. Divide fish evenly between tortillas. Combine all salad ingredients and add to tacos.
3. Cajun Crab Croquettes
Crab is delicious and versatile, but this Louisiana style is a unique way to prepare the seafood for something different — with a bit of a kick. Eating Well, which provided the recipe, suggests serving with baby spinach and a vinaigrette, along with corn or asparagus and fruit for dessert. Even with all of that, you’ll still be under 500 calories but not miss the extra at all.
The recipe also got 4 out of 5 stars on the website, meaning it’s worth a try if you’re looking for a new recipe. One serving is two croquettes and contains 7 grams of fat, 260 calories, and 27 grams of protein.
- 3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- ½ cup finely diced green bell pepper
- ½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided
- 1 pound pasteurized crabmeat, drained if necessary
- 1 large egg white
- ¾ cup plain dry breadcrumbs, divided
- ¼ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, corn, and 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Let cool for 5 minutes. Add crab, egg white, ½ cup breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, and lemon zest. Mix well. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions (about½ cup each).
Form each portion into an oblong patty that’s about 4 inches by 2 inches. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Combine the remaining ¼ cup breadcrumbs, ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning, and 2 teaspoons oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle 1 heaping teaspoon of the breadcrumb mixture over the top of each croquette, then gently press it on. Bake the croquettes until heated through and golden brown on top, about 20 minutes.
4. Coriander-Crusted Tuna with Black Bean Salsa
If you’re a fan of punchy flavors and have a yearning for southwestern cuisine, try tuna instead of your typical steak or chicken. The Dairy Council of California reports that the American Heart Association recommends we eat fish at least twice a week, and heartily recommends tuna as one of those options. You get similar health benefits to eating the canned “chicken of the sea,” but fresh is always a nice change-up.
Cooking Light has a host of fresh tuna recipes, including this one with southwestern flair. This one has a handful of ingredients, mostly because of the salsa, but it couldn’t be easier to prepare. One six-ounce tuna steak prepared this way will have about 12 grams of fat, 356 calories, and almost 44 grams of protein. (There’s a reason tuna salad is a go-to before the gym.)
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 (6-ounce) tuna steaks (about 1-inch thick)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced plum tomato (about 3 tomatoes)
- ½ cup chopped yellow bell pepper
- ¼ cup sliced green onions
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
- Cilantro sprigs (optional)
Directions: Combine coriander, cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture evenly over both sides of fish. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from heat. Combine tomato and next 5 ingredients (through beans) in a medium bowl. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and toss well. Serve salsa with fish. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.
5. Shrimp and Snow Pea Stir-Fry
It’d be a sin to exclude shrimp from a list of any seafood dishes, let alone healthy ones. Shrimp is known for being high in cholesterol, and it does have a decent amount. But if you’re eating it in moderation, it’s a fantastic source of protein and very low in fat. The low fat content means it’s also lower in omega-3 fatty acids, but if you’re looking to switch up your seafood plates, shrimp is a good option. Most of America thinks so too: A health newsletter distributed by Tufts University reports that shrimp passed canned tuna in terms of most-consumed seafood in 2001.
Shrimp is best made in stir-fry and salads when the fat content won’t jump because of creamy sauces, Tufts reports, which means this recipe from Health is a great choice. For those of you watching your blood levels, one serving (about 1½ cups) will have about 242 milligrams of cholesterol. It’s only 173 calories, with less than 4 grams of fat and about 27 grams of protein. What’s more, it’s also easy to make and takes about 10 minutes from preparation to your dinner table.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ¾ pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup trimmed snow peas
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (½ small lemon)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Directions: Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes or until done. Add snow peas and remaining ingredients; sauté 30 seconds.
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