The federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults eat at least 8 ounces of fish per week because of the role fish plays in promoting heart health.
Fish is an excellent source of protein. Any fat that it contains is polyunsaturated and beneficial, including heart-healthy omega-3 fat. Other vital nutrients in fish include iron, iodine, selenium, zinc and vitamin B12. Tilapia, which is called for in today’s recipe for fish tacos, also provides choline. The vitamin-like substance supports the rapid brain development that happens in early childhood, and it’s used throughout our lives to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating memory, mood and intelligence.
Years ago, you may have heard about unsafe farming practices that gave tilapia a bad name. Today, the fish is farmed safely, and the EPA and FDA have identified it as a good choice for children and breastfeeding mothers because of its low levels of mercury. As a bonus, it’s inexpensive!
Today’s recipe has lots of simple ingredients, making it both appealing and easy to prepare. The crunchy cabbage-and-onion slaw makes an attractive presentation next to the blackened tilapia. Whole-wheat tortillas provide more fiber and nutrients than the white-flour variety. A creamy green sauce made with avocado, cilantro, jalapeño and fresh lime juice finishes it off perfectly.
Bethany Thayer is a registered dietitian nutritionist with Henry Ford Health System. For more recipes and health information, visit henryford.com/blog and for questions about today’s recipe email HenryFordLiveWell@hfhs.org.
Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce and Slaw
Serves: 6 (2 tacos perving) / Prep time: 40 minutes / Total time: 1 hour
1 ½ pounds tilapia fillets
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 (6 inch size) whole wheat tortillas
½ red cabbage, sliced thin
¼ green cabbage, sliced thin
½ medium-sized onion, diced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 ripe avocado, pitted and skinned
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
In a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, dried oregano, brown sugar and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of the tilapia fillets and rub the seasonings in. Set aside.
Combine all of the slaw ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Combine all of the avocado-cilantro sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until well-combined.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, add the tilapia pieces a few at a time. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the outside is blackened and the fish flakes apart easily.
Remove fish from skillet. If desired, warm the whole wheat tortillas in the same skillet over medium heat, 10-20 seconds on each side.
Break up the tilapia into 2-3-inch pieces. Distribute the fish evenly between the 12 tortillas, and top with slaw and avocado-cilantro sauce.
From Henry Ford LiveWell.
332 calories (36% from fat), 13 grams fat (3 grams sat. fat), 27 grams carbohydrates, 30 grams protein, 256 mg sodium, 57 mg cholesterol, 79 mg calcium, 7 grams fiber. Food exchanges: 1½ starch, 1 vegetable, 3 protein.
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