Tag Archives: food

Salmon Poke Recipe

 

We know that preparing our own food is a great way to have control over what we eat. We know that eating good quality food has a good effect on our health. However, often we find ourselves thinking “I know I should eat better, but I don’t know WHAT to make!” At FitMentality, we like to share ideas on what you may want to rustle up in your kitchen. As written in previous articles, just because one likes to eat a healthy diet meant to aid us in creating/sustaining strong/healthy bodies, does not mean we do not love food. On the contrary, we love how making good (tasting and quality) makes us feel great.

Tom Lee is a business development associate for the Santa Barbara Fish Market where you can support local fishermen and buy fresh seafood online or buy fresh fish online. He stopped by FM to share his own recipe.  Since I, myself, have little experience in the seafood realm of the culinary arts, I was excited to welcome Tom for a guest post. Enjoy.

 

Homemade Salmon Poke

Salmon_poke

 

If you’re new to Poke dishes, it is basically a very simple dish that consists of raw fish “marinated” in a soy sauce based sauce. This recipe is a twist on the more popular Hawaiian dish of Ahi (Tuna) Poke. The only difference in this recipe is that salmon is used instead of tuna and that no avocado is used. Tuna is a much lighter tasting fish and avocado gives Ahi Poke a more buttery taste. However, salmon is little bit more fatty (containing lots of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids) and avocados in this dish might make it too rich tasting.

 

Salmon_pokeMix

 

 

Since this dish uses raw fish, only the freshest fish will do. When purchasing, always try and perform a smell test. Fresh fish should never have any type of “fishy” smell to it. Also when purchasing, make sure to ask your salmon fillet to be de-boned and skinned. Once you have your salmon fillet, it’s all down hill from here. The roasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, and soy sauce can usually be found in the Asian section of your local grocery store.

SalmonPokeFinished

 

This is a pretty easy dish to make, even if you have little experience in the kitchen. You only need to cut 3 things and mix together the rest of the measured ingredients. Remember to keep the fish cold (refrigerated) until it’s time to cut it and mix with the rest of the ingredients. After everything is mixed, letting it sit for a few minutes will really let all of the flavors soak into the salmon. Salmon Poke can be eaten by itself, but many prefer it to be served on bread chips or crackers. Healthier alternatives would be to serve it on top of cucumber slices or whole-wheat crackers. 

 Ingredients:

8 Ounces King Salmon
¼ Cup Shallots

¼ Cup Green Onions
½ Roasted Sesame Seeds
¼ Teaspoon Siracha Garlic Chili Sauce
1 ½  Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
Few Drops of  Sesame Oil

Instructions:

1. Chop enough green onions to fill up a ¼ cup.

2. Thinly slice enough shallots to fill up a ¼ cup.

3. Cut up the skinless salmon fillet into small pieces, about the size of ¼” cubes.

4. Put all of the ingredients into a small bowl and mix together. You want to do this gently so you do not squish and mash the fish.

5. Let sit for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator before serving. 

 

You may be thinking “Wait, raw fish?” Is this safe? I asked Tom to address this concern. He explained the following:

 

Eating any type of meat, such as chicken, pork, or even steak can have risks. Seafood is no exception. In this case with salmon, we have a few things to check to make sure the food we are eating is safe. First off, there are two types of fish that can be eaten raw: sashimi grade fish and fresh grade fish. Sashimi quality fish means the fish has been frozen at a very cold temperature for a set amount of time, usually a few days or more. This is done in order to kill off any parasites. Fresh fish is fish that has never been frozen. From a quality fish department, there is no difference in taste from sashimi grade and fresh grade fish. The only worry would be parasites. With that said, it should be noted that a good fish market will have quality fishmongers who can easily spot out parasites and remove them from the fish. The second main concern is bacteria. A cold environment prevents bacteria from growing on fish. When buying fish, it is always good to ask for ice to accompany your purchase until you reach home. When cutting the fish, make sure you do it as quick as possible, and then return the fish to the refrigerator until needed. Lastly, the smell of fish is a great indicator of freshness. It’s a strange statement to make, but fresh fish should not smell fishy. Fresh fish should have a relatively low scent. If there is any scent it should be a light ocean scent. Often times you can ask a fishmonger to smell the fish before you buy it. If it smells bad at all, don’t buy it. I personally have been eating raw fish for at least 10 years now, both fresh and sashimi grade. Not once have I gotten sick. Stick to a reputable and quality fish market and you shouldn’t have any problems!

As with any food preparation, one must take responsibility over what we choose to prepare and how we choose to do so. FitMentality assumes no responsibility over options written about on our website. We simple share what has worked for us, so that we each may make our own decisions. As always, consult with your doctor before making fitness/diet adjustments.

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Healthy FitMentality Pancakes!!!

 

I am on a constant crusade to prove that just because you want to eat good, nutritious food, doesn’t mean you love food less than others who aren’t quite as concerned with the nutrient value of their food. Yes, I try to eat clean as often as possible. Yes, I eat gluten free as often as possible. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love food!! I’ve posted and written about healthier takes on pizzas, chips, smoothies and even protein bars.

The other day, I had a hankerin’ for some pancakes. Many of my friends love going out for breakfast and getting a big pile of pancakes. I love breakfast, as well. However, since I started eating gluten free, and being more aware of what food I put in my body, I hadn’t had pancakes for quite a while. Knowing that one can make almost any food they love, with alternative ingredients, I set out to bake some gluten free, not too ingredient dense, pancakes. The result was awesome.

The term “healthy” or “healthier” is subjective. I’ve written about this and it’s something I think about often. However, compared to most commonly found pancake mix, it’s pretty clear this is a (if at the very least) health-IER take on pancakes.

Here is an example of an ingredient list to a common pancake mix found in most supermarkets.

ENRICHED BLEACHED FLOUR (BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), SUGAR, LEAVENING (SODIUM BICARBONATE, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE), SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE.

I don’t even know what some of those ingredients are, therefore, I would rather they not be in my body. However, you be the judge.

 

I looked online for recipes with the ingredients I knew I wanted to use (oatmeal and almond flour) and made some tweaks.

 

The following is the recipe for FitMentality Pancakes:

 

Ingredients:

Organic Lactose-free Milk (1 Cup)

Oatmeal (1 Cup)

Protein Powder (2 scoops)

Almond Flour (3/4 Cup)

Organic Free Range Eggs (4)

Sea Salt (1 tsp)

Baking Powder (1 tsp)

Organic Blueberries (1 cup, or so)

Coconut Oil

Cinnamon (optional)

The amounts don’t have to be exact, but this recipe worked well.

Instructions:

Turn your stove top on to about medium-ish heat.

 

While the pan is warming up, get your mix on! First, in a mixing bowl, combine the milk and oatmeal. Little by little, stir in the rest of the ingredients. The blueberries I used were thawed from being frozen, so I made sure to stir them in last, as to not make the batter too watery from the melted berry juice. With fresh blueberries, or any other berry, this would be less of a concern.

Mixing blueberries into the batter

Not too complicated, right? That’s one of the best parts of this recipe.

Once it’s all mixed together, put a bit of coconut oil into the hot pan. You get to decide how much to use. In my case, I used raw organic coconut oil that was a bit solid in the container. I took out a small chunk with a butter knife and melted it on the pan. Then, with a small cup or measuring cup, pour some of the batter into the pan, just like you would any other pancake. You’ll notice the batter is a bit more watery than most pancake batters, but never fear. The batter firms up once it starts to cook. How much batter per pancake is up to you. It depends on the actual size of the pancakes that you would like. In my case, I made some pretty big ones, that covered most of the surface of the pan.

Pouring batter onto the pan.

 

How do you know when to flip? Good question. That is something all breakfast cooks have had to deal with since the beginning of time. Or, at least, since pancakes were invented. A good rule of thumb, is to wait until the edges of the pancake seem to firm up. Also, if you give the pan a shake back and forth, and the center seems to be less watery, then you can try to flip the pancake over. You’ll notice, as well, that if you are able to slide your spatula under the pancake without it falling apart, then the firmness is about right. If you do not follow the previous advice, and try to slide the spatula under the pancake when it is still too watery, it just won’t work. When you are able to pick up the pancake in one piece on the spatula, do the best you can to turn it upside down, and still land IN the pan. It cooks much slower on the floor.

Once you have flipped the pancake and have given it a few minutes to cook on that side, it will be done! Put it on to an empty plate and repeat with the rest of the batter. When you are done, you get a serious pile of good quality flap jacks.

 

 

 

You can tweak the recipe in any way you like. You can use different types of berries, or even use different types of milk. The taste will just be a bit different depending on the substitutions you make. These pancakes don’t taste exactly the same as the ones you make from batter bought at the store, but I still think they taste good. An almond and oatmeal base is right up my alley. There are also different types of flour you can use. In the future, I will try to make these with a Quinoa flour. If you would like, you can add some sugar to the batter, if you wanted it to be a bit sweeter.

I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon and drizzled some honey over the final product. It.was.amazing.

Try it out!

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Can Food Affect My Mood?

I do not own this image. If you do, and would like me to take it down, please let me know.

Can food effect your mood?

First, that phrase rhymes, and that is kind of funny.

Second, yes, it can. Studies have shown that eating certain foods can effect the chemical and physiological functions in our brains. We don’t know exactly how this happens, but we know enough to try a few things that seem to work.

Before I get into the examples, I want to make a point. You’ll notice how the examples of the foods to eat for this topic, are already what we have heard we should be eating. It’s important to note that eating clean, nutrition foods (as opposed to over processed, fast foods) improve our health in general. Health, in a general sense, already encompasses all of the specific health examples that we would like to improve, individually. Food affecting your mood in a positive way, is just another reason to add to the million other reasons to choose good, whole foods. Eating right, allows your body to do it’s job.

Ok, enough philosophical stuff (which I believe is important to highlight), let’s get to the actual food examples!

Don’t be too scared of all carbohydrates:  Tryptophan is a non essential amino acid, found in most protein rich foods. When it enters the brain, more serotonin is produced. As we know (or are about to learn), serotonin elevates our mood. Fish and Vitamin D have been shown to increase serotonin in the brain. So where do the carbohydrates come into the equation? I’ll tell you, my friend. Even though tryptophan is found in many protein rich foods, other amino acids are more easily transported to the brain. When you eat carbohydrates, they seem to help tryptophan get to your brain. Therefore, improving mood. If you were to go TOO low on carbohydrates, this would negatively effect the amount of tryptophan that would get to your brain, which may make you feel like this 😦 .

If you have a friend or family member who cut out almost all carbs from their diet and seemed to not be in the greatest mood. Mayyyybe this is why. Make sure you make smart choices of where your carbs do come from. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains will give you the carbs your body needs, and will also contribute other nutrients and fiber as well.

Omega 3 fatty acids: Studies have shown that Omega 3s may help protect against depression because of the affect they have on neurotransmission in the brain. This hasn’t been a directly proven link, but foods such as fish, flaxseed and walnuts have other health benefits as well. Might as well give it a shot!

Eat breakfast: Studies have shown that eating breakfast not only helps more energy and better memory throughout the day, it can also positively affect our mood. Here is another one. We all know we should be eating breakfast. If you don’t; start. If you already do, good job, champ.

Folate and B12: A spanish study found a correlation in low intake of folate for men, and women with a low intake of vitamin B12, with depression. Whether these low levels of vitamins lead to depression, or are depressed people eating less of these nutrients, remains to be seen. However, it still is a good idea to get enough of these nutrients.  Folate can be found in nuts, fruits and especially dark green vegetables. You can find B12 in lean animal products.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps the brain produce serotonin. How much you need, depends on man factors, including where you live. One recommendation is to shoot for 600 IU (international units) a day, from food. Vitamins from food are always better than from a supplement. However, I still believe multi vitamins are a good idea.

Check your caffeine intake: Caffeine can make depression worse for some that have it, depending on how sensitive they are to it. Also, if you consume too much, or too late in the day, this can affect your sleep. Not good sleep = not good mood. I’m not good at math, but I know that equation is true. If you’re at risk for depression, chill out on the caffeine for a few weeks and see how you feel.

“But if I don’t have caffeine in the morning, don’t talk to me cause’ I”ll be in a bad mood.” If you were thinking that as you read the previous paragraph, then maybe this is just the right advice for you 😉 .

Chocolate: I know some readers were thinking “Yeah yeah, get to the CHOCOLATE, that’s good for mood right?! That’s an excuse to eat chocolate, right?! Give me a reason to eat more chocolate!!!”

Don’t lie, I know some people were close to thinking that.

Actually, yes, chocolate seems to be linked to better mood other than simply for the reason that it makes you happy because you like the taste. However, don’t go finding any chocolate you can, and shoving it in your mouth just yet.

Make sure to choose dark chocolate, to get the most health benefits. The higher the cocoa content in the dark chocolate you choose, the better for you. Polyphenols have been shown to be linked to improved cognitive function, and they are found in high amounts in dark chocolate. Chocolate also contains neurotransmitters called, phenylethylamines. Phenylethylamines promote feelings of attraction and giddiness (teehee). And, for what it’s worth, chocolate and sex have been shown to activate the same parts of the brain (another appropriate place for the phrase “teehee”).

There you go. Another example of how eating a balanced diet of real foods, positively effects your body’s ability to function how it should.

Here’s to taking control of our lives and making sure we are in a good mood as often as possible!

I do not own this image. If you do, and would like me to take it down, please let me know.

Reference:

Elaine Magee. “How Food Affects Your Moods.” Web MD, 15 December 2009. Web. 22 April 2012.

Other random places I have read information but can’t remember exactly where, woops.

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Homemade sweet potato fries

Who doesn’t love sweet potato fries?!

Wait. Actually, if you don’t love sweet potato fries, then don’t answer that question. If you do, then answer away.

I KNOW, RIGHT?!? WE ALL LOVE SWEET POTATO FRIES!!! (Those of you who don’t, thanks for playing a long. I’ll write about something you do like, just message me what it is).

Why not take a food you love, and make it yourself?! This way, you have control over how your food is made and can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home. Win for everyone.

Plus, these fries are easy peasy to make and also nutritious! Packed with vitamins D, B6 and C as well as iron and magnesium, this makes for a great snack or part of a meal.

Ingredients I used (You can tweak the recipe for yourself, depending on how much you want to make).

Two organic sweet potatoes or yams

All purpose organic salt

Organic avocado oil

Love

I didn’t even measure out exactly how much of each ingredient, except the last one. I used two cups of love, this time. That’s the beauty of cooking your own meals. You can try and see whatever works. I understand when recipes get a bit more complicated, you may need more guidance with amounts of ingredients. With this one, if you want the product to have less fat, then use less oil. If you have been watching your intake of good fats and not so good fats, then it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Cut the sweet potato a couple times length wise. Then cut the resulting pieces width wise. Depending on how think you want your sweet potato fries, you can mess with this portion of the recipe.

Put the pieces in a mixing bowl and pour in a bit of oil. Coconut oil would work great as well. Shake on a bit of salt (sea salt would work great, too) and use your hands to mix it all up. Make sure the pieces are nice and coated with oil. This will keep them from sticking on your cooking sheet.

Place the pieces of potato on a cooking and bake for 15 minutes. Once the time is up, take the cooking sheet out flip the pieces of potato and cook for another 10 or so minutes. Or until the sweet potato fries look crispy.

Take the tray out and let cool for a few minutes.

Once those bad boys have cooled off, impress your girlfriend or boyfriend or friend or family members with your home cooked food. You can tell them it was really complicated to make. You and I will know it was no sweat. It will be our little secret. 😉

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Think you can let your guard down because you shop at a health food store?

When I first started shopping at Whole Foods, I caught myself mistakenly following this thought process, “Hmm, I usually wouldn’t buy this, but I’m at WF and this has “all natural ingredients” so it’s okay to buy.” They have cookies, pop tart type things, cakes, sugary granola bars, pre packaged/frozen meals, pizzas etc. I took a step back and realized that just because I was at a “health food” store, did not mean I could eat anything just because of where I was.

I do not own this image. If you do and would like me to take it down, please let me know.

It sounds obvious, but when you catch yourself walking the isles at Whole Foods or Trader Joes and looking to buy food or products you normally wouldn’t buy, stop for a second. Remember, cookies are still cookies. Cake is still cake. Pizza is still pizza. Chips are still chips.

Now, some of these products may have better or more fresh ingredients than at other stores. Granted, the higher quality and less artificial ingredients in a meal, the better. This is true. But it does not give us a free pass to eat whatever we want, just because we bought it at Whole Foods. Sugar is sugar, to our bodies. Eating too many calories, regardless, will leave us fluffier than we would like.

Instead of falling into old habbits, educate yourself about cool food options you maybe haven’t tried before. Spend some time walking around the store and seeing what kind of fruits or veggies you haven’t tried before. Look at different products that you can incorporate into your diet.  Or, you can continue with similar foods or meals you already like, but with organic ingredients or less processed ingredients.I do not own this image. If you do and would like me to take it down, please let me know.

I do talk about Whole Foods and Trader Joes a lot, but that is because I like the choices they have. As I’ve written before, I go to different stores for different reasons. I don’t mean to imply that any one store is better than any other store. These are just the place I have been shopping at lately.

Before you go calling me a junk food hater (which I guess is true if you are talking about eating junk food constantly, haha) I am not against indulgences from time to time. I do think that if you are going to treat yourself, it is worth it to get a higher quality product.

Regardless where you are shopping, continue to think critically about the food you buy and how it affects the health of you and your family.

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I know I should eat healthy, but I love food too much

On my way to the gym, I had a little conversation with myself.

Well, not out loud…

…this time.

This was more of an inner dialogue. I have had conversations with people about the whole idea of eating better and trying to make smarter nutritional choices throughout the day or week. After many a chat of this nature, I have felt a sense that some feel that they love food too much to try and eat healthier. Or, that they don’t want to stop enjoying food, therefore, they would rather not adjust the way they eat. They feel that what they like to eat tastes so good that they would be deprived if they moved away from some of those foods. Therefore, changes can’t be made.

Some of us may feel this way, or maybe to a lesser degree. But let’s be honest, are we scared of adjusting how we eat?

If you have felt this way, or do feel this way. I understand and don’t mean to harp on you. But allow me to propose a rebuttal.

(clears throat)

Learning about where food comes from. Educating oneself about the magic, straight up magic (er, science), of how food can make us live a stronger and longer life. Learning how food can help us achieve life goals. Learning about how the combination of different foods in different ways has a positive effect on our bodies. Studying how to improve illnesses or things that don’t seem quite right in our bodies, with food. Learning how foods can help us get off of most if not all of medications we take.

These are all examples about the love for food.

I was thinking to myself  “Wait a minute, if your idea of loving food is wanting to continue to often eat food that of which you have no idea what all of the ingredients it has, then my examples are even MORE of a love for food!”. Then I told myself  “Wait, Isaac, wait. This isn’t a competition. Though you would totally win, it’s not a competition of who loves food more. This is just an example of different schools of thought.”

I am not trying to tell you what you do or don’t love. That is not up to me. My point in all of this, hopefully somewhat humorous (otherwise I come off as some crazy person who’s posts you wouldn’t want to read) and extreme example, is to challenge how we think. Many times, people can get caught up in thinking that eating healthier requires sacrifice in how much we enjoy food. Yes, adjustments may need to be made. And yes, our taste buds can adapt to different foods. My point is, I challenge people to stop focusing on being scared of having to stop enjoying food and or being scared that we will hate what we need to eat to be healthier. We need to stop  and realize, that’s not true. If anything, you can learn to love food even more.

To be clear, I enjoy a good indulgence in food that isn’t the best for me, as well. Every once in a while, that is okay. However, that is not what this is about. This is about the ongoing choices that we make.

I’m won’t sit here (actually, I’m standing, but I started sitting down, until I got serious about the topic) and make it seem like this transition is easy for everyone. Because it’s not. It takes effort and commitment. I simply propose a challenge to how we think about food and the decisions we make about how we feed ourselves and our families.

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