My mom used to bake fish fillets in the oven in the colder months. I loved the way the golden smell would permeate our entire home and promise the hot, juicy white fish; crisp on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. That extra layer of crust can be so satisfying and really keeps the juices in.
With this version of the favorite seafood so many of us grew up on, the sensory satisfaction of the mealy coating is combined with the comfort of knowing exactly what you’re putting into your body and feeling good about it.
We love fish in our house. But as the quality of meat greatly affects it’s actual benefits, and we try to balance the ever-challenging line of eating healthfully and staying within a budget, we can’t eat salmon all the time. Why does salmon get all the attention, anyway?
Granted it has a notably higher amount of Omega 3s than most other fish, but wild caught tilapia has it’s own share of the wonder fat. So here’s a recipe with one of salmon’s modest little cousins, which still has an impressive list of health-boosting credentials at half the cost of a fillet of salmon.
The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish a week to support a healthy heart. Tilapia in particular offers these benefits-
- High quality, complete protein with all the essential amino acids your body needs to build and repair itself.
- Omega 3s which support body and brain functioning (wild caught only)
- Lean and filling (Helps aid weight control)
- Phosphorous, Folate, Vitamin D- all of which support heart health
The millet flour and corn meal crust is easy to make and also boasts high nutrient content. These studies on millet shows it has properties which makes it beneficial to the heart as well as antioxidants, which help the body fight illness.
Both millet and corn meal are also gluten-free, making them easier to digest. I’ve outlined a few particular benefits of each grain for easy reference.
- Prebiotic (Nourishes the healthy bacteria in the gut and aids absorption of probiotics)
- Helps prevent diabetes/Low glycemic index makes it friendly to those with diabetes.
- Alkalizing (Helping the body to fight off infection. One of the only grains to have this effect)
- High fiber/low sugar
- Magnesium (Helps support healthy nerve function)
- Serotonin (Calming for the mind)
- Iron (Contributes to brain function)
- Zinc (Helps the body heal itself)
- High fiber
- Phosphorus (Supports healthy enzyme function)
- Niacin (Beneficial to heart health)
So, I don’t know if you picked up a pattern there, but we’re looking at an impressively heart-healthy meal.
The first step is to buy quality fish; ideally fresh and wild caught. If you can only afford/have time for frozen, go for it. Just try to stick to wild caught if you can for lower mercury levels and higher Omega 3s.
The theory is that wild tilapia feed on sea vegetation as opposed to the “food pellets” of farmed fish and therefore the fish itself is healthier and made up of better stuff, including the stuff of Omega 3s; a nutrient which our bodies desperately need and can’t produce themselves.
If we’re trying not to eat processed foods ourselves as it weakens the body’s defenses and uses up essential enzymes as opposed to supplying them, it only follows that we wouldn’t want to eat food that lived on processed food either.
Bearing all the incredible health benefits in mind, allow me to bring your attention back to the speed of this dish. Literally 20 minutes from downtime to dining; dog-ear this one for sure.
You’ll need one shallow bowl for the egg mixture, one shallow bowl for the meal mixture and a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil. Alternately, you could bake these, though I haven’t tried it yet.
Generally, I try to pan fry with coconut oil, but I opted for olive on this one as the particular flavor would lend more to the savory taste I was going for. Not to mention that olive oil offers Omega 3s, while coconut oil doesn’t. Since the fish is on the leaner side of the Omega 3 scale, the oil adds some more value to the dish.
Easy on the tummy, easy on the wallet and full of beneficial, crusty goodness. And of course, don’t forget your greens!
What’s one of you favorite childhood recipes? Have you tried re-creating it with more healthful ingredients? How did it go?
- 1 Pound Tilapia (4 normal sized fillets)
- 1 Egg Beaten
- ½ Cup Fine Millet Flour
- ½ cup Coarse Corn Meal
- ½ Teaspoon Onion Powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Dried Parsley
- Sea Salt
- Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- Beat the egg in a shallow bowl
- Combine flour, meal and spices with fork in shallow bowl
- Heat skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil
- Rise fish in cold water and pat dry with paper towel
- One by one, dip the fillets in the egg mixture and then int he flour mixture
- Make sure skillet is hot and add the fillets. Mine is small, so I cooked them two at a time..
- Let fish brown on one side for about 5 to 7 minutes and flip. Allow to brown on opposite side.
- The fish should be flakey and opaque on the inside and only slightly browned on the outside. Keep an eye on them as factors from the heat of your flame to the conductive capacity of your pan and the temperate of the fish can affect cook time.