CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Cajun Salmon

Nearly every day, you can read or view a story about health and nutrition. Just this week, the U.S. Agriculture and Health and Human Services Department issued new federal dietary guidelines that urge Americans to drastically cut back on sugar, and for the first time, have singled out teenage boys and men for eating too much meat, chicken and eggs.

The guidelines, which are updated every five years and were first issued more than 30 years ago, have encouraged Americans to consume more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and low-fat foods, while restricting intake of saturated fat, trans fats and dietary cholesterol.

There are some people who might think that’s a herculean task, especially because of time constraints. But when you get right down to it, it’s as easy pie. Here’s a perfect example, and it didn’t take long to prepare these tasty foods.

Therese and I both agreed the meal we shared Thursday night was about as healthy as you can get. Our main entree was Cajun Salmon, seasoned with a rub of herbs and spices and baked in a high-temp oven (475 degrees) for only 10 to 15 minutes. The salmon is packed with omega-3s fatty acids (the good kind of fat) and protein.

Our main vegetable, baked buttercup squash, is fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free and a good source of vitamins A and C. All we added was a little butter. The squash we had was left over from a day or two earlier and just needed to be warmed in the microwave.

Accompanying those two were the “superfood” or “supergrain” quinoa, often used as a substitute for rice. It is a good source of protein, fiber, iron, copper, thiamin and vitamin B6. The quinoa is prepared just like risotto and takes about 20 minutes.

Rounding out our meal was a salad, complete with tomato, lettuce, shallots. It was topped with a dressing that featured avocados, also are very high in omega 3s, have a higher percentage of protein — about 4 grams — than other fruits, and their sugar levels are also comparatively low. This took less than 10 minutes to fix.

There you have it. A nutritious meal that takes into account most of the aforementioned guidelines. You read it here!

Cajun Salmon
1 salmon fillet, skin on, boneless
2 teaspoons Cajun or creole seasonings
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 lemon, zested, juiced
¼ cup Italian parsley, minced (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Mix seasoning blend together. Rinse salmon, pat dry. Place salmon on oven proof pan, coat both sides with olive oil. Season salmon with seasoning blend, rub into salmon on both sides. Place salmon skin side down, top with lemon juice and zest. Bake at 475 for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, top with parsley and serve with extra lemon.

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