Pantryy Pro­teins From the Sea

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The COVID-19 pan­demic has caused dis­rup­tions in al­most ev­ery as­pect of our lives, in­clud­ing how we re­ceive our food sup­ply. Be­cause of the large-scale clos­ing of restau­rants, farm­ers and ranch­ers have an over­abun­dance of meats, dairy and veg­eta­bles, but few cus­tomers left to buy their goods in large enough quan­ti­ties.

This un­ex­pected glitch in the food sup­ply chain has caused con­cerns about the avail­abil­ity and pric­ing of cer­tain meats and pro­duce over the next few months. Be­cause I be­lieve in be­ing pre­pared, my pantry is well-stocked with a va­ri­ety of canned and pack­aged goods, in­clud­ing pantry pro­teins like canned seafood.

While I’m ac­cus­tomed to us­ing canned veg­eta­bles and fruits, canned pro­teins have never been my first choice ... un­til now. I’ve learned that canned seafood can be a nu­tri­tious, de­li­cious and rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive source of pro­tein.

Here are a few of the health ben­e­fits of canned sal­mon, tuna, smoked mack­erel, sar­dines and clams:

Canned Sal­mon: Not only is this fish rich in omega3 fatty acids, it’s ac­tu­ally bet­ter for you when canned be­cause it’s packed with the bones in­tact, mean­ing more cal­cium for your bones and teeth. Also, some of the fat is re­moved, mak­ing it a health­ier op­tion.

Canned Tuna: This pantry sta­ple is high in pro­tein and low in fat, with 42 grams of com­plete pro­tein with all of the es­sen­tial amino acids, heart healthy omega3 fatty acids, cal­cium, phos­pho­rus, potas­sium, zinc, B-vi­ta­mins, se­le­nium and cho­line. Tuna con­tains fo­late, iron and B-12, which help to pre­vent ane­mia. It’s also free of car­bo­hy­drates and pro­vides ben­e­fi­cial nu­tri­ents for di­a­betes man­age­ment.

Bal­anc­ing our in­take of omega-6 fatty acids with more omega-3 fatty acids (from seafood like tuna) can help slow the pro­gres­sion of de­men­tia. The omega3 fatty acids in tuna com­pete with pro-in­flam­ma­tory omega-6s to block in­flam­ma­tion at the cel­lu­lar level, low­er­ing the risk of vas­cu­lar cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment and de­men­tia. The com­bi­na­tion of fatty acids and pro­tein in tuna can also be help­ful for stay­ing strong as we age.

Canned Mack­erel: Canned plain or smoked mack­erel is high in pro­tein and omega-3 fatty acids and is very in­ex­pen­sive.

Canned Sar­dines: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, sar­dines are an ex­cel­lent choice of fish be­cause they are sus­tain­able and in­ex­pen­sive. They con­tain high amounts of vi­ta­min B-12 (sec­ond only to calf liver), which pro­motes heart health.

Canned Clams: Clams are high in pro­tein and zinc -- crit­i­cal for the well-be­ing of your im­mune sys­tem -- and rich in iron (con­tain­ing far greater quan­ti­ties than found in red meat) and se­le­nium. Clams also are high in omega-3 fatty acids and are a good source of phos­pho­rous, man­ganese and potas­sium.

If you’d like to use canned seafood in a new way, try this recipe for Fancy Fish Toast. It’s ba­si­cally thick slices of toasted bread topped with an ar­ray of de­li­cious in­gre­di­ents with fla­vors that blend beau­ti­fully with any of the va­ri­eties of canned seafood listed above. If you’re feel­ing ex­tra fancy, try this recipe us­ing smoked baby clams or oys­ters!


4 large eggs

Juice from 1 lemon

12 cherry or grape toma­toes, cut in half

1 green onion, roots re­moved and dis­carded, white and green parts chopped 1/4 tea­spoon sugar

2 1/4 tea­spoons salt, di­vided 2 1/4 tea­spoons ground black pep­per, di­vided

1/2 cup may­on­naise

1 small gar­lic clove, finely minced or grated

1 1/2 tea­spoons sherry vine­gar or red wine vine­gar 1/2 tea­spoon pa­prika 4 ta­ble­spoons olive oil, plus more for driz­zling

4 thick slices sour­dough bread or coun­try white bread

2 (6-7 ounce) cans or jars oil-packed tuna, drained 1/2 cup torn mixed ten­der herbs or baby let­tuce greens

1. Bring a medium saucepan of wa­ter to a boil. Gen­tly lower eggs into pot with a slot­ted spoon and cook 8 min­utes. Trans­fer to a bowl of ice wa­ter and let cool. Peel eggs; set aside.

2. Us­ing a medium-sized bowl, mix the lemon juice, toma­toes, green onions, sugar and 1/4 tea­spoon of the salt and 1/4 tea­spoon of the pep­per to­gether.

3. Stir to­gether the may­on­naise, gar­lic, vine­gar and pa­prika in a small bowl; sea­son with 1/4 tea­spoon salt and 1/4 tea­spoon pep­per.

4. Heat 2 ta­ble­spoons oil in a large skil­let over medium un­til shim­mer­ing. Add 2 slices of bread and cook, ad­just­ing heat as needed, un­til bot­toms are deeply browned, about 3 min­utes. Trans­fer to a platter and sprin­kle fried side with 1/4 tea­spoon each of the salt and pep­per. Re­peat with another 2 ta­ble­spoons oil and re­main­ing slices of bread.

5. Spread may­on­naise mix­ture over toasted side of bread. Top with tuna and tomato mix­ture; spoon some of the juices over the mix­ture. Scat­ter herbs or let­tuce greens over toast; driz­zle with oil. Slice each egg into 3 or 4 pieces and ar­range on top. Sea­son with re­main­ing salt and pep­per. Serves 4.


An­gela Shelf Medearis is an award-win­ning chil­dren’s author, culi­nary his­to­rian and the author of seven cook­books. Her new cook­book is “The Kitchen Diva’s Di­a­betic Cook­book.” Her web­site is www.di­ To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like An­gela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Face­book. Recipes may not be reprinted without per­mis­sion from An­gela Shelf Medearis.

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