You’ve probably heard that you should be getting enough Omega-3, but do you really know what its benefits are? Last night we made a delicious dinner that was definitely high in Omega-3: Baked salmon with a delicious soy ginger garlic marinade and polenta. Before I give you the recipe, you have to learn a little bit about Omega-3.Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid or EFA – a fat that is essential for many important body functions; however, your body doesn’t make it, which means you have to get it from your diet and supplements.Here’s why it’s important to get enough:
–It’s vital to the health of your brain. Your brain is made up of cells called neurons, which resemble electrical wires whose function is to send signals to the rest of your body. To ensure things don’t short circuit and messages are sent properly, the wires need proper insulation (the myelin sheath). An adequate supply of EFAs contributes to the health of the myelin sheath, and helps your brain function properly.
–Improves circulation, which can help prevent the development of atherosclerosis (a disease that leads to heart attack).
–Helps prevent a buildup of belly fat by reducing cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is released when you’re stressed out. If you’re constantly under stress, cortisol can signal fat to be deposited in your abdominal area.
–Too much cortisol also increases the flow of glucose (sugar) out of your tissues and into your blood. By controlling cortisol levels, Omega-3 also helps maintain blood-sugar levels, which prevents excess sugar from being stored as fat, and helps control cravings for sugar and high carb/high starch foods.
–Keeps other hormones under control, which can improve symptoms of PMS (anxiety, mood swings, depression, fatigue, etc).
–Improves the look of your skin and hair.
So how do you get more Omega-3 in your diet? You can take a high-quality Omega-3 supplement (Jamieson is a good one), but they can be expensive, and if you’re getting enough from your diet you don’t need to take a supplement every day.
The best food sources of Omega-3 are from fish. Here is a list of the fish that are highest in Omega-3, and also low in mercury: Salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna (flaked light tuna is best, and only consume once a week as it is a bigger fish with a tendency towards higher mercury levels).
Best vegetarian sources of Omega-3: Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. You can also buy hemp and flax oil, which are also good sources, and use them to make salad dressings.
Omega-6 is also an EFA, but it’s easier to get from your diet (most vegetable oils, chicken, eggs, avocado, whole grain bread, nuts), and the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 is a delicate balance that you don’t want to disrupt by taking Omega-6 supplements or not getting enough Omega-3.
Now that you’ve read all the information I’ll give you the recipe.
Salmon is actually an affordable protein in Buenos Aires ($10 Canadian for two portions), and a big bag of polenta was only $1 Canadian.Combined with a simple salad of cucumber, red pepper, tomato and avocado with balsamic and oil, it’s a healthy, easy, yummy and affordable meal. I will definitely make this again.
I’ve never made polenta before, but it’s really easy. It’s basically cornmeal that you add to boiling water, and stir until it becomes solid. It has a grainy texture, and is corn-based so it’s gluten-free and high in fiber. It has a mild flavor, so it’s very versatile, and is great to pair with any savory main dish.
Sweet Soy Salmon with Polenta
2 4-oz salmon steaks
4 tsp soy sauce (low-sodium)
2 tsp honey
1 garlic clove minced
1 tsp ginger grated
3 green onions
1 and ¾ cups of cornmeal
6 cups of water
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Combine soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger and green onions in a small bowl.
Place salmon steaks on a cookie sheet (skin side down) and spoon about 1/3 of the marinade on top (use the back of the spoon to rub it into the salmon).
Put it in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes (medium rare), removing it twice (after 5 minutes, & after 10 minutes); marinating it each time.
While salmon is in the oven, pour 6 cups of water and 2 tsp salt into a medium size pot, and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, add the polenta, turn heat down to low and continue stirring until it thickens. This only took me about 5 minutes, but I think I bought instant polenta. If you’re using regular cornmeal it will take closer to 15 minutes to cook.
Once thick, stir in the butter & grated parm* until it melts, transfer to a serving bowl and set aside. Once your salmon is done, plate it with a couple scoops of polenta and enjoy!
*I had leftover polenta combined with a boiled eggs for lunch today, and it was so good – high in protein, EFAs and fiber.