This month we are dishing with Dr. Sonali Ruder, The Foodie Physician, as she gives us her take on seafood and the impact that a healthy diet can have on your overall well-being. As a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician, Dr. Ruder has seen plenty of illnesses, and today, she is providing readers with simple advice to stay healthy.
Tell us about your and your blog.
I’m a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician, trained chef, mom, recipe developer, and cookbook author. Ten years after starting my medical training, I decided to further pursue my passion for cooking by enrolling in culinary school, which is when I started my blog, The Foodie Physician. On my blog, I use my medical and culinary backgrounds to help readers create meals that are nutritious and full of flavor.
After treating patients with chronic diseases in the Emergency Room every day for many years, I developed an interest in the role that food and diet can play in preventing disease. Instead of simply writing a prescription, I started counseling my patients on ways they could take control of their health. My goal is to empower people to make positive diet and lifestyle changes, starting in the kitchen.
Does seafood play an important role in your blog?
Yes, I post a lot of seafood recipes on my blog because it’s one of my favorite things to cook! My parents are both terrific cooks, and I grew up eating a lot of seafood from an early age. My readers are always looking for quick, easy and nutritious weeknight dishes, and seafood fits the bill perfectly!
Any words of wisdom for people looking to improve their health by including seafood in their diet? What advice do you give your patients?
One of my biggest healthy eating tips is to cook at home. When you cook at home, you can control the ingredients, and you know exactly what’s going into your food. I find that people are often intimidated by the thought of cooking, and seafood is one of the most common things people tell me they’re scared to cook. The truth is that it’s actually quite easy to prepare. My advice is to start simple! You really don’t need many ingredients to make a piece of fish shine. Some herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice are all you need most of the time. It is also easy to substitute seafood in dishes where you would normally use meat like burgers and tacos. I make a mean Salmon Burger and delicious Caribbean Fish Tacos. If the thought of fresh seafood is intimidating, try canned or frozen options. I make a Spaghetti with Tuna dish with tomatoes, herbs and canned tuna fish. I also often buy frozen shrimp, so that I always have a quick protein on hand to add to stir fries, curries or kebabs.
Why is seafood so healthy and beneficial for everyone?
Seafood has so many amazing health benefits! It is an excellent source of protein and is packed with an abundance of vitamins and minerals. And of course, it is one of the richest sources of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which have incredible health benefits. Omega-3s have a variety of health benefits, including: improving cardiovascular and brain health, as well as reducing inflammation and boosting immunity, just to name a few!
I became particularly interested in the health benefits of omega-3s when I was researching for my cookbooks: Natural Pregnancy Cookbook and Natural Baby Food. The current recommendations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are that pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat 2-3 servings (8-12 ounces) of low mercury seafood per week. This is because of the growing body of research that shows how crucial seafood and omega-3s are for fetal growth and development. Omega-3s are essential for the development of babies’ brains and eyes, and they may even decrease their risk of allergies and eczema. Omega-3s are also beneficial for moms, and may help prevent preterm labor and postpartum depression. Unfortunately, an FDA analysis of data from pregnant women in the U.S. showed that they eat a lot less seafood than what’s recommended.
What is your go-to seafood meal for busy nights?
My go-to seafood meal for busy nights is my Quick and Easy Miso Glazed Salmon, which is featured in my cookbook, Natural Pregnancy Cookbook. It was inspired by one of my all-time favorite dishes – the Miso-Marinated Black Cod – by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, served at his famous restaurant Nobu. After I tasted it the first time, I looked up the recipe and saw that he marinates the fish for 2-3 days! Most people (including myself) don’t have that much time to prepare a recipe, so I came up with a quick and easy version that takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. I use salmon, which is more readily available than black cod, and I brush it with a simple glaze made with miso, a fermented soybean paste. Then I stick it under the broiler and, as it cooks, it forms a deliciously sticky, sweet glaze, coating the fish. Both kids and adults love this dish!
Additionally, I am a big fan of my Spice-Rubbed Salmon recipe, because it is not only healthy and delicious, but also easy to prepare.
What’s next on your “must make” or “must order” seafood list?
For my “must-make” list, I’d like to tackle octopus or calamari. We learned how to clean and cook calamari in culinary school, but I haven’t made it since then. On my “must-order” list, I’d love to try the omakase at Sushi Nakazawa in New York City. I was fascinated by the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which chronicled famed Japanese sushi chef Jiro Ono on his quest to perfect the art of sushi. His apprentice in the movie, Chef Daisuke Nakazawa, now has a restaurant in NYC, and I would absolutely love to try the 20-course tasting menu. It’s seafood in its purest form!