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To get a point in your Mediterranean Diet score, the recommendation is to eat two servings of seafood per week. For a lot of people that's a real challenge, as they seem to think that cooking fish or shellfish is difficult (it's not) and that it's expensive (can be true). One of the reasons I started the Dr. Gourmet website was to help people see that eating healthier didn't have to be difficult, time-consuming, or expensive, and that mission continues today. I regularly share recipes for fish and shellfish that are really easy: my Shrimp Scampi [here's the GERD-Friendly Shrimp Scampi recipe] is a recent addition.
At the same time I realize that pre-packaged or frozen seafood meals can help bridge the gap between those who want to eat healthier but are a bit intimidated by cooking seafood for themselves. While it's not a perfect solution, as part of Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews I especially keep an eye out for frozen and convenience meal seafood options to help people get a little more seafood in their lives.
I spotted today's review items at a local Giant. Single servings of Atlantic Salmon, pre-seasoned and frozen on a pre-soaked cedar plank? Could be a great option! The two varieties I picked up for today's review have a little more sodium than I'd like, but as they are the main course alone, that could be balanced with smart choices of vegetable and starch options.
As I noted, these are sold frozen. The instructions do not allow for microwaving, just oven or barbecue, so we preheated the oven to 425°F while we thawed the fish, still in its shrink-wrapped package, in a bowl of cold water for 40 minutes (per the instructions on the package).
Both fish servings on their respective planks went into the oven for 14 minutes (the instructions call for 14-18 minutes), and after 14 minutes we removed the planks to a plate to rest for two minutes.
Using a metal fish spatula we slid each fish filet from its plank onto the plate, then cut into the thickest part of the fish to see how well it cooked. "It certainly smells good," my wife noted.
Both filets of salmon were well cooked and flaky: in the rear is the Applewood with Orange & Ginger (245 calories, 365mg sodium, 1g fiber) and the Hickory Maple (250 calories, 420mg sodium, 0g fiber) is in the foreground.
We tasted the Hickory Maple first, and it's hard to tell what's more offensive: the cloying sweetness or the mouth-burning amount of salt. Another look at the Nutrition Facts and ingredients listing revealed that this contains 16 grams of added sugars. This shouldn't have been surprising: in order, the ingredients list begins as follows: "Atlantic salmon, sugar, water, maple sugar, brown sugar, salt...."
My wife said, "Wow. Three kinds of sugar in the first five ingredients?"
Sixteen grams of added sugars means that this single 5-ounce serving of salmon contains nearly an entire tablespoon of sugar (that's three teaspoons). As my wife put it, "That's not just egregious, that's just plain gross."
The Applewood with Orange & Ginger isn't much better, with about the same amount of sugar, but somehow this is neither cloying nor quite so salty. Leave both of these in the freezer case. At $5.00 each at Giant, these aren't worth it.
Even at Whole Foods, Atlantic salmon from the fish counter is $9.99 per pound, meaning a 5-ounce filet will cost you $3.12 (plus tax if any). You don't need a cedar plank to cook salmon: here are three recipes to show you how.
Orange Dill Salmon
Salmon with Caper Mayonnaise
Smoky Southwestern Rub with Salmon
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Review posted: July 10, 2020