Using delicious fish to fight your inflammation!

 

Have you ever noticed how bears never get autoimmune disease? Okay, I don’t actually know if that’s true, but I’m going to guess that this fella above and his buddies are pretty darn healthy. That’s because they are gorging themselves on some of the earth’s most powerful forms of omega 3 fatty acids.

While I have been a plant eater for the majority of my life, as I’ve gotten more in tune with my body I’ve found that my sweet spot is eating mostly plant-based with the occasional high-quality animal protein. Sometimes this looks like pasture-raised beef, chicken, or pork a few times a month, but mostly, like that bear, my go-to is fish — specifically fish that is high in omega 3 and low in mercury such as wild-caught salmon, Pacific-caught sardines, farmed rainbow trout, and Atlantic mackerel.

The good news about fish…

I eat these fish because they are delicious but also because the omega 3 fatty acids in them reduce inflammation. For those of us with autoimmune disease, we know that the key to feeling good is to reduce the inflammation in our bodies. Omega 3 fatty acids do that by influencing our inflammatory cells.  When we eat foods with omega 3 fatty acids or take supplements, those fats go into our cells that are causing us so much pain and sickness and say, “You can relax now.” How amazing is that? One study looking at the impact of omega 3 on autoimmune disease reported that:

“[m]any of the placebo-controlled trials of fish oil in chronic inflammatory diseases reveal significant benefit, including decreased disease activity and a lowered use of anti-inflammatory drugs.”

That alone is motivation enough to add in a dose of high omega 3 fish into your diet. Am I right?

Wild-caught salmon have some of the highest levels of omega 3s out there, for one 3-ounce cooked piece you can get upwards of 1,500 milligrams of omega 3s.  Canned sardines can give you up to 1,000 milligrams per a 3-ounce serving.  Check out these recipes for quick ways to add salmon and sardines to your week.

But

The bad news about fish…

Omega 3s are the good news, but when it comes to fish, there is also some bad news. Due to humans dirtying up the planet, high levels of mercury have made their way into the ocean and into the bodies of marine life.  This is a problem because when we eat the fish we are being exposed to that mercury. And mercury exposure can cause inflammation and may even be the culprit behind some people’s autoimmune disease. On top of all that, it can cause neurological problems, birth defects, cardiovascular disease, etc., etc.

So before you go to town eating fish every day to reduce your inflammation, remember that you have to balance the two. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group has an excellent tool to help you do just that. This calculator will tell you which fish you can safely eat and how much you can eat each week to avoid getting too much mercury.

What do you think? Is fish your thing? Do you think about the mercury in your food? Do you think about getting omega 3 on a daily basis? Let me know in the comments below.

Overnight breakfast miracle!

overnight-oats-bite

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but during the week it can also be the most hectic one.  My husband and I wake up and start the morning at a dead run. We’re doing our best to motivate the older kiddo to get up and ready while trying to convince the youngest one that it’s not time to play. In all that chaos, we have to track down homework, track down that smell, and somehow manage to get breakfast in before heading out for the day. Enter overnight oats.

Like the name suggests, this is one of those meals you prepare ahead of time, throw it in the fridge, and retrieve when you are ready to eat. It’s simple, nutritious, and delicious.

Overnight oats

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: crazy easy
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Ingredients

  1. 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats (I use Bob Redmills gluten free oats)
  2. 2 TBS chia seeds
  3. 1 Banana
  4. 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  5. 1/2 tsp of vanilla (optional)
  6. 1/2 cup of yogurt or 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  7. Filtered water

Optional add-ins

  • a handful of chopped nuts ( I like slivered almonds or raw walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup frozen or fresh berries
  • 1 TBS unsweetened dried coconut
  • a handful of cacao nibs

Method

  1. In a bowl mix all dry ingredients together, including any add-ins.
  2. Add yogurt or non-dairy milk and berries if using. Mix
  3. If using yogurt, add a few TBS of water until the oat mixture looks good and moist.
  4. Divide mixture between two pint jars or similar sized container with a lid.
  5. Place in the fridge for at least two hours before eating.
  6. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

Sardine and veggie bowl

Sardines

 

You need fat. Despite all the low-fat options you find in the grocery store, your body needs fat. Fat helps keep our hormones (including insulin) well regulated, it feeds our hungry brain (60% of it is fat!), and it keeps us feeling full longer. Not to mention that fat is delicious. Of course not all fat is created equal. For example, trans fats are horrible for us, but fatty fish like the sardines shown above are full of healthy omega 3 fatty acids that help our body run.

Some good fats are grass-fed butter, avocados, ghee, unrefined coconut oil, and unrefined olive oil. Basically, I take the same approach when choosing fats as I do with choosing my food; namely, is it as close to a whole food (not processed) as it gets and was it grown/raised in an ethical and sustainable way?  If the answer is yes, then I feel pretty comfortable eating it and giving it to my kid. If the answer is no, then I avoid it like the plague.

The recipe below is a great way to get in a bunch of good fat while having some veggies and a very filling meal.

Sardines and veggie bowl

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • one TBS coconut oil
  • one tin of skinless and boneless sardines packed in olive oil
  • a handful or two of chopped spinach or other green you like
  • one small leftover or freshly made roasted beets cut into bite sized pieces
  • half a cup of leftover quinoa
  • half a TBS olive oil
  • three tsp of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Sautee the spinach in the coconut oil until bright green and wilted.
  2. Remove the spinach and add the sardines into the pan.
  3. Cook the sardines for a few minutes on either side. I like it to have a few nice crisp places before pulling it out of the pan.
  4. Assemble the quinoa, spinach, and beets into the bowl and then top it with the sardines.
  5. Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
  6. Pour dressing over the bowl. Enjoy!

 

I was inspired to make this recipe by a dish my dear friend Leah made me. I hope this recipe inspires you to get in the kitchen and experiment with some yummy good fats!

Easy, quick, and yummy salmon salad

salmon

As I’ve stated before, I like to eat and I like to eat well. Somedays it’s easier than others to make that happen. If I’m on my game, I have lovely leftovers waiting in the fridge. But occasionally I don’t, and last week I had one of those days. Instead of opting for eating out, I decided to see what I could concoct in a matter of a few minutes using what I had on hand. As we know, necessity is the mother of all invention, and this time was no different. Enter the salmon salad. This delicious meal is chock-full of omega 3 and probiotics while being rich in flavor.

Salmon salad with dill and capers

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 can or 6 oz of wild Alaskan salmon*
  • 1/4 cup of full-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 tbs + chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tbs + capers
  • 1 tbs + lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Directions

mix all ingredients, tasting and adding as you go to get the exact flavor you desire. Once the salad is to your liking you can serve it on anything that fits your individual dietary needs. I served mine on top of  zucchini noodles I had left over, but you could also serve it with leftover pasta or quinoa. If you don’t have leftovers, throw it on a green salad or pull out some hearty crackers. Just use what you have on hand, and I’m sure it will be perfect.

I hope this recipe inspires you to get in the kitchen and create some lovely and nutritious meals for you and your loved ones. Let me know how it goes!