Omega 3 Fatty Acids and IBS
Simple and Delicious Salmon Recipes
I’m sure you’ve heard that salmon is healthy for you, but you’re probably wondering if it will improve your digestive health. Maybe you eat salmon regularly but are getting bored of the ways you are cooking it. I recently had the opportunity to be on The Social to talk all about salmon. If you missed it, catch the replay here.
In this article I am going to talk all about the digestive health benefits of salmon, what to look for when purchasing salmon, how to cook salmon, and provide 5 easy and delicious salmon recipes.
The first step if you’re looking to improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or another digestive disorder or disease, is to understand more about the Low FODMAP diet and if it can help. Download my free eBook to help you better understand this diet and get started implementing simple steps to get rid of symptoms like gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea or constipation related to IBS. Click here to get a copy emailed to you right away.
How Can Salmon Benefit Digestive Health?
Fish in general is a great addition to your diet and poses many health benefits. Salmon is one of a few fish very high in Omega 3 fats. Omega 3 fats have been associated with reduced inflammation and improved digestion, which can be beneficial for those of us with digestive issues. While fatty fish like salmon have so many great health benefits, for those of us with digestive health issues it’s important to keep in mind that too much fat, of any kind, can also be trigger. So it’s important to find a balance. Get enough that you are able to reap the benefits, but not so much that it causes you symptoms. This amount will be be different for everyone. Trying some of the recipes I have listed below can help you incorporate more omega 3 fatty acids into your weekly diet.
A common question I always receive is “Can I eat salmon while pregnant?” Yes, you can! Salmon is a small fish compared to larger fish like tuna and swordfish. These larger fish should be limited or avoided during pregnancy because they can contain more mercury, which can affect our health and the health of our baby. As long as you are taking proper food safety measures while cooking the salmon it is healthy for you to consume while pregnant.
Not a Fan of the Fishy Smell? Here’s How to Avoid It
So many people tell me they don’t like fish because they can’t stand the smell. Well I have news for you! Buying fresh fish should solve that problem. A common question I get is what to actually look for when buying salmon at the grocery store. You want to purchase the freshest salmon so that it smells and tastes the least fishy. The best way to do this is to talk to your local fish shop or the fishmonger at your grocery store and find out when their shipments come in each week. Then plan your week so you can pick up the fresh salmon the day it comes in. Next, you’ll want to look at the colour of the fish. You’re looking for a nice bright orange or pink colour. The colour of the flesh can vary between types of salmon and whether it was wild or farmed. For example sockeye salmon tends to be the reddest in colour. It really depends on what the fish eat. The more crustaceans the fish eat, the more carotenoids they are consuming which will result in more orange coloured flesh.
Fish and Food Safety
Storing fish properly is essential to maintain proper food safety. In order to properly store fresh salmon, you’ll need to keep it wrapped tightly in the package and store it in the fridge. Make sure you it cook within 1-2 days while it is fresh. If you decide to marinate the salmon, then keep it in a tightly sealed bag or container in the fridge.
What about freezing salmon? If you bought a few fresh fillets while it was on sale, then it is completely fine to put it in the freezer. This is one of the best ways to purchase salmon because wild salmon is only in season for a few months each summer. Try to freeze it as soon as you can to maintain its freshness. It will stay fresher for longer if you vacuum seal it first and then freeze it. Talk to your local fish shop and see if they will do this for you. If you don’t have access to a vacuum sealer make sure it is tightly sealed in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. If you have it properly packaged, it can last up to 4 to 6 months in the freezer.
How to Cook Salmon
I find that people are often turned away from cooking fish because they are scared to undercook it, which often leads to overcooking it and producing an undesirable product. Overcooking fish is very common, but that’s going to cause it to dry out and not taste as good. There’s a few different methods to ensure you’re cooking it the best way to maintain the flavour and texture. One way to keep it moist is to cook the fish in parchment paper to keep the moisture and steam inside the little packet. You could also use the methods of steaming or stewing. Roasting is another common method, but it doesn’t take long when doing it this way. Depending on the size and thickness of the fillet, it will usually take 10 to 15 minutes.
Sometimes you can purchase large pieces of salmon, but I recommend portioning it out into smaller pieces when cooking it. This is because cooking the full fillet can cause the outside to be cooked, while the middle is still raw. A good way to tell if the salmon is done cooking is to see if it flakes apart with a fork. The salmon should be a lighter pink once cooked, and completely opaque all the way through. If you see that the middle is still a darker, slightly translucent pink, you know it needs more cook time. If you’re really unsure, it’s a great idea to test it with a food thermometer. When inserted into the thickest part of the salmon, you’re looking for a reading of 70°C or 158°F. It might take some practice to cook the perfect piece of salmon, but the effort is worth it!
Simple and Delicious Salmon Recipes
If you’re interested in trying out salmon, or you already eat it but you’re bored of your current ways of cooking fish, I’ve got 4 very simple and delicious salmon recipes just for you!
Recipe #1: Salmon Cakes
This is a quick and easy meal to whip up for those busy weeknight dinners. It is also an easy way to sneak in a few vegetables for picky eaters. It’s especially great to use when you have leftover roasted salmon or leftover mashed potatoes from a night or two before! If you feel like trying something new, then you can try adding additional flavours like fennel bulb instead of celery or other roasted vegetables instead of the peppers. Don’t be scared to play around with different flavours and herbs instead of the parsley.
1 lb fresh salmon
1 red pepper, quartered
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs (gluten-free if that works better for you)
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
3 green onions, minced (green tops only if the whole onions are a trigger for you)
Handful of fresh parsley, minced
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place the salmon and the red peppers on a baking sheet. Drizzle and rub oil all over fish and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook 15-20 minutes until cooked through.
- Once salmon is cooked through, flake into small pieces. Dice up roasted peppers into small pieces.
- Meanwhile place a large non-stick pan on medium heat.
- Mix salmon, peppers, egg, mayonnaise, onions (or fennel substitute), and parsley until well mixed.
- Form into 8 to 12 small cakes.
- Add a little olive oil to the pan and place salmon cakes on the hot frying pan. Cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown cooked through.
- Serve with a side of salad or cooked vegetables.
Recipe #2: Red Thai Curry Salmon
Homemade Thai red curry is a simple, easy and quick recipe. It can be cooked in 15 minutes or less! It’s a go-to one pot meal for any busy family that is warm, spicy and satisfying. This recipe is versatile, so you can substitute any of the vegetables with whatever you like that doesn’t trigger your symptoms. Just make sure you adjust the cooking time accordingly. For example, you can use green beans, but only cook them for 4 minutes instead of the full 15 minutes for the vegetables shown below. I’ve simplified the recipe by leaving out some of the hard to find ingredients you don’t usually have in your fridge like shrimp paste or lemongrass to make this homemade version nice and easy.
Red Thai curry uses hot peppers, so depending on how spicy you like your curry, you can play around with fresh peppers. You can find hot peppers or dried pepper varieties at your local farmer’s market or grocery store. I always recommend just using a little to start with to see how your family reacts to the spice. What if you like spicy food but your family doesn’t? A common roadblock for meals is families liking different things. Can you still serve this dish if your family is sensitive to spice? Absolutely! I would recommend either leaving it out completely or just adding a pinch. Adding a pinch of the spice will still give this dish the traditional flavour, but will also keep it mild for your family. It might take some trial and error to see what the right amount of spice is for your family. If someone in your family really dislikes spicy food, you can always leave the spice out of the recipe altogether and have some form of spice blend or hot sauce available on the side for those who enjoy spicy food.
What about fish sauce? Fish sauce has a pretty strong fishy flavour. It depends on personal preference; some people enjoy it, and some don’t. I would recommend using a small amount and only use it in recipes where it’s asked. Start out with cutting the amount in half to see how you like it. Once you figure out how much fish sauce you typically like to add, you can adjust recipes according to your liking. It is also very salty, so you will want to minimize adding additional salt during cooking.
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 shallot, diced small (substitute for 1 Tbsp chopped fennel or 2 tsp of onion infused oil if shallots are a trigger for you)
1 pack oyster mushrooms, sliced thin
1 lb salmon, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green zucchini, chopped
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 clove of garlic, minced (substitute for 1 Tbsp chopped fennel or 2 tsp garlic infused oil if garlic is a trigger for you)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne or chili flakes or both!
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 can coconut milk
Handful of fresh cilantro
1 fresh lime
- Place a large, metal pot on medium-high heat. When warm add the oil, mushrooms and shallot (or fennel/oil substitute). Allow to lightly brown and cook about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add all the other ingredients, up to the coconut milk to the pot and turn the heat up high. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cover allowing all the ingredients to cook through and the flavours to have fun and blend together.
- Cook 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables and salmon are cooked through.
- Serve over steamed rice with some fresh cilantro and lime squeezed on top.
Recipe #3: Salmon Meatballs with Avocado Cream Sauce
This simple recipe gives you a spin on the normal meatball dish. Salmon meatballs are a perfect addition in your lunch, as a mid-afternoon snack, dinner with a little salad or as a super cool appetizer at your next party. For the Avocado cream sauce I like using Greek yogurt for its extra thick texture and protein content, but you can use whatever plain yogurt you have in your fridge. If lactose is a trigger for you, try using lactose free Greek yogurt. Remember to be mindful of your triggers and only try a small amount at first.
1 lb fresh salmon
1 shallot or 2-3 Tbsp onion, minced (substitute for 1 Tbsp chopped fennel or 2 tsp of onion infused oil if onions are a trigger for you)
Handful of fresh cilantro, minced
Salt & pepper
FOR THE SAUCE:
1/4 cup plain lactose-free yogurt
Juice of half a lime
Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Chop salmon into large chunks and then add to a food processor. Pulse a little at a time until small little pieces resembling ground meat. Alternatively, if you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender and just pulse slowly and stir if you must to mince up salmon.
- Remove salmon from food processor and place in a large bowl. Add egg, shallot (or fennel/oil substitute), cilantro and salt and pepper. Mix together thoroughly and gently using your hands.
- Form 18 to 20 meatballs out and roll gently in between your hands. Place on large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Cook 10 to 12 minutes until cooked through.
- While salmon is cooking, add avocado, yogurt, lime juice and a little salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Add a little water if needed to thin the sauce as desired.
- When meatballs are cooked through, remove from oven. Serve with rice and cooked vegetables or salad with avocado sauce.
Recipe #4: Rainbow Salmon Skewers
This bright and simple recipe is great during warm months when you can grill outside, or even on your stove top using an iron skillet during the colder months or if you don’t have a BBQ. What’s great about this recipe is you can substitute any other kind of fish or vegetables you like depending on what you have on hand.
1 lb fresh salmon
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 yellow zucchini
1 green zucchini
1 pack of whole, button mushrooms (swap for 1 pack of whole cherry tomatoes if mushrooms are a trigger for you)
Salt and Pepper
- Soak 12 wooden skewers in a cup of water for about 10 minutes or so.
- Chop salmon into 1 inch cubes. Chop all other vegetables into large pieces. Keep mushrooms (or substituted cherry tomatoes) whole.
- Place the vegetables and salmon on the skewers one at a time to create the look of a rainbow!
- Meanwhile, place an iron skillet on medium heat. Alternatively you can use your grill, barbecue or a non-stick pan on the stove top.
- Cook the skewers for about 10 to 15 minutes until salmon and vegetables are cooked through.
Hopefully this article has got you thinking about ways to incorporate salmon into your weekly meal planning. Take the fear out of cooking fish by following my tips on how to properly pick out salmon in the grocery store, how to safely store it, and some easy cooking techniques to serve the perfect piece of salmon. Not only is salmon delicious but it also poses many health benefits including reducing inflammation, which is great for those of us struggling with digestive issues. If you’re new to salmon, take it slow to make sure your body responds in a positive way. If you need help identifying what is causing your symptoms, join me at the CLAIRITY program.