Happy holidays, seafoodies!
This week we are full of holiday cheer and ready to end the year with a very special “Dishing With…” guest, Jennifer McGuire, MS, RD. Jennifer is a registered dietitian with The National Fisheries Institute (NFI). Jennifer sat down with us to talk about her favorite holiday meals, tips for dealing with picky eaters and all things seafood.
With over a decade of experience in nutrition communications, Jennifer helps to translate seafood science for fellow healthcare professionals, policymakers and organizations across a variety of platforms. Her latest NFI endeavor is hosting the YouTube channel – About Seafood. Jennifer and her guests dish about seafood to help clear up confusion when it comes to seafood consumption.
Jennifer is passionate about helping families navigate mealtime. As a mom with three young sons, she knows a thing or two about integrating seafood into your family’s diet, especially during the holiday season.
Anxious to learn a few of her mealtime secrets? Let’s dig in!
Tell us about the new YouTube channel.
One of my top pieces of nutrition advice is to be choosy about where you get nutrition advice. YouTube is the number-two search engine behind Google, and just about anyone can post a video there. So, NFI is doing a series of conversational YouTube videos to ensure sound seafood advice exists in this super-popular space. The videos are about 10 to 15 minutes long and feature me interviewing a rotation of guest experts about a variety of interesting topics, like when to start feeding babies seafood, why fish is the perfect fit for a gluten-free lifestyle, and how to turn picky eaters of all ages into seafood lovers. Our first video with Nancy Piho, who is an RDN, is currently live on the channel. Watch for several more in the near future.
Why do you love seafood?
I was actually a bit of a latecomer to the delicious world of fish. I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and didn’t get much seafood exposure beyond fish sticks as a kid. I moved to Texas as a teenager, and my gateway dish was fish tacos. Since then, I’ve lived in several other fish-loving spots – Boston, Hawaii, South Carolina – and have come to enjoy all their seafood specialties, from oysters to poke. The thing I love the most about fish is that it tastes so good! And now that I have three little ones to cook for, I’ve really come to appreciate how reliable fish is as a go-to meal. I always have frozen cod or salmon in the freezer and canned tuna in the pantry.
What is your favorite seafood dish to make during the holidays?
Well, the best dishes are always the ones someone else makes for me. My brother-in-law makes the most-craveable pickled shrimp every holiday season. It’s a family recipe scribbled on an index card, but I’ve found another pickled shrimp recipe very similar to it. I love the brightness of this dish amidst otherwise rich holiday fare.
What’s next on your “must make” or “must order” seafood list?
Yet again, I’m outsourcing the cooking to a family member. My husband loves to barbecue, and I really want him to make some Big Green Egg cold smoked salmon. I make just about every weekday meal for our family, so I’m very comfortable tasking him with a more-involved recipe like this.
What are your tips for people who might be intimidated by the thought of preparing seafood at home?
One way to take the pressure off – especially if you have kids – is to view seafood as a component of the meal. For example, try a fish taco bar or top-your-own shrimp pasta. Also, remember the recommendation is to eat seafood two to three times a week. A tuna sandwich or quesadilla for lunch on the weekend is completely fail-proof and gets you halfway there.
What are your tips for getting kids to eat more seafood?
In addition to deconstructing dishes like I mentioned before, and to serving meals family-style, try your best to resist the temptation to push certain foods. I realize that’s so hard to do – there’s definitely an instinctive parenting urge to get your little ones to eat a balanced meal. But to keep mealtime pleasant and avoid power struggles, it’s really best to back off. I just recommend you offer up the seafood meal and hope they take a takes a bite or two – or many!. And know children may have to see a dish a few more times before this plan finally starts paying off.