This is a guest blog post by Beth Warren and was originally posted here.
To feed my family of five and extended summertime household of 17, I often feel the need to come up with exciting new dishes to please an array of taste-buds. One method of cooking is proven to please the most pickiest pallet: grilling. Unfortunately, I am allergic to the grill. Not literally. But the entire concept of an outdoor, gas-fueled, fiery grilling machine intimidated me. Always eager to face my fear and add a barbequed dish to my cooking repertoire, I was excited to take on a cooking challenge and grill.
My second challenge was coming up with the dish. When I think of traditional bbq’s, one overpowering food group comes to mind: red meat. The thought leaves me queasy as a both a registered dietitian unable to disregard the “eat meat in moderation” research, but also the fact that I personally do not savor the meat flavor. About to take the gas fuel off the fire and throw in the towel, I remembered: my specialty is cooking healthy dishes and showing people that a healthy alternative can be enjoyed in ways an unhealthy one is prepared. So below, I will share with you how I discovered a healthier meat alternative to grill.
My main ingredient: wild salmon. I chose this fish with its own “meat” and the healthy fat, omega-3, shown to improve triglycerides and other health benefits, as an alternative to the saturated fats of red meat.
The main seasoning: zaatar spice. My family heritage is a middle-eastern ancestry. I consider myself lucky that my cooking foundation lies in the Mediterranean style; the diet with proven health benefits including weight management, improvements in asthma and allergies and decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, poor eye health, oral health and infertility.
I decided to combine the strong flavor of the zaatar spice and limes (not to mention their anti-inflammatory and natural detoxification properties, vitamins and minerals) to combat the fishy flavor of the salmon and as usual, added veggies (preferably organic) to come up with a delectable, easy, real food dish:
ZAATAR GRILLED SALMON AND VEGGIE SKEWERS
2 lb. wild salmon, skinless, cubed
¼ cup zaatar spice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 green bell peppers, cubed
4 red bell peppers, cubed
3 onions, cubed
In small bowl, combine zaatar spice, juice of 3 limes and oil as dressing and stir to combine. Take 1 skewer and slide on an onion, red pepper, green pepper, salmon cube and repeat 3 times and top with a grape tomato. Place completed skewers in small baking dish. Brush dressing on salmon skewers. Pour in remaining dressing. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerates for at least 4 hours. Place on heated grill (or broil in oven) and cook 5-10 minutes on each side. For a complete and nutritionally balanced meal, serve with grilled asparagus (recipe below) and wild rice or healthy mac n’ cheese (recipe will be posted next week).
For fun, I also made with salmon steaks. I always wanted to make them for dinner, but I do not recommend for children as they have small bones.
GRILLED BALSAMIC ASPARAGUS
Asparagus (yellow and green)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Spread asparagus on baking tray. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil on asparagus. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to coat. Spread seasoned asparagus onto grill. Grill 3-5 minutes on each side.
Beth Warren, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and a certified dietitian-nutritionist with a masters of science degree in Nutrition. She runs a private practice in Brooklyn, NY where she works as a freelance writer, consultant of businesses and counsels adult and pediatric clients with various medical conditions and weight management.