We hope you all enjoyed dishing with Deanna Segrave-Daly of Teaspoon of Spice last month! Today, we’re excited to be dishing with Serena Ball, MS, RD, the other half of the dynamic duo that makes up that site. When she’s not busy creating healthy, nutritious dishes, you can find Serena taking care of her four children, three of whom are already little seafoodies in the making.
Like Deanna, Serena spends her days dreaming up new recipes and finding clever kitchen hacks to make life a little easier for her readers. Knowing her busy schedule, we can appreciate Serena’s desire to keep it simple in the kitchen! We’re absolutely loving the quick and easy ideas she’s been sharing with us, especially her tips for getting kids to eat seafood.
Keep scrolling for some serious seafood inspiration!
Tell us about your blog.
I blog at Teaspoon of Spice with my business partner, Deanna Segrave-Daly. We are two dietitians who love food as much as you do. On our blog, you’ll discover super-yummy, family-friendly recipes, with nutrition information and healthy eating advice sprinkled throughout.
Why do you love seafood?
Seafood is satisfying. That’s my favorite reason for eating it, especially when I eat seafood for lunch – I feel satisfied and I’m not hungry for hours after that. It’s quick to fix and can be made in so many ways that I don’t get bored with it. Secondly, I love feeding seafood to my kids because I feel like I can see their brains growing when they eat it! The research showing that children’s’ brains (and probably everyone else’s, too) need the healthy fats found in fish is just so incredibly strong. Plus, researchers have strong data on how fish literally saves lives through the decreased incidence of heart disease and strokes in people who eat fish.
What is your favorite seafood dish to make at home and/or order at a restaurant?
Honestly, tuna melts. They’re a favorite with my kids, so I make them often. And they’re quick because I can make them with ingredients I always have on hand. I just mix canned tuna with a little mayo, black pepper and shredded carrots – and if I have them, green onions and chopped celery. Then I put a big scoop of the tuna on whole wheat bread, top with shredded cheddar, and broil in the oven until the cheese melts.
At a restaurant, I will always order cioppino, a seafood stew that I have yet to make at home.
What’s next on your “must make” or “must order” seafood list?
When I have 15 minutes for prep (instead of 5 minutes, like it takes for tuna melts), I make Crunchy Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks. These are healthy fish sticks that are super crunchy and kid approved. And the best part is that the fun hand-breading method is hands-off and doesn’t involve messy fingers. Beyond that, don’t skip the homemade tartar sauce for dipping.
What are your tips for people who might be intimidated by the idea of preparing seafood at home?
Start with lighter and sweeter tastes. There is zero shame in canned seafood. Canned shrimp and refrigerated or canned crab have lighter, sweeter tastes than darker, oilier fish. Light canned Albacore tuna is the lightest-tasting canned tuna. Canned seafood is precooked, which helps decrease any fishy aromas that may come from cooking fish in your kitchen. I mix any canned seafood with plain Greek yogurt and serve it either as a sandwich filling, or rolled up in lettuce leaves, or as a dip with chips. The creaminess of the yogurt makes the seafood taste less fishy.
The easiest way to not overcook fish is to do it in a slow cooker. What could be easier than set-in-and-forget-it?
Any words of wisdom for parents who have picky eaters? How did you get your kids to eat seafood?
Truthfully, only three of my four kids will eat fish. One of my kids won’t even touch noodles seasoned with a drop of fish sauce. But I always gently encourage her to try one small bite when I serve it. I know that most kids do come around, eventually, even if it’s not until they are adults.
I have a few tips that eventually worked on my other three kids. At burger time – you make fish burgers by forming a patty out of a mixture of canned seafood, along with grated cooked potatoes, an egg, chopped green onions, and a bold spice like curry powder or smoked paprika. Or try making Salmon Potato Cakes.
You could also try to make the fish familiar to your kids. Top your family’s favorite recipes with fish or try serving mild whitefish or canned shellfish on top of pasta that’s smothered with tomato sauce and sprinkled with cheese. Or you could add Fish Tacos with Cilantro Cream to your meal repetition.
Dishes with ethnic appeal also can work. Today’s kids are traveling and eating in ethnic restaurants more often, so go bold. This doesn’t mean hot spices – my kids like an Asian noodle dish with salmon, soy sauce and veggies like carrots and broccoli. Another easy favorite is Ramen Noodle Soup in a Jar. And if you try only one recipe, make it a Butter and Soy Sauce Sheet-Pan Fish Dinner. I’m pretty sure the combination of soy sauce and butter in this one changed my life.