I cooked a lot last weekend, quite unexpectedly. It all began with two glistening sides of wild caught sockeye salmon fillets that I bought on Friday. Wild salmon season is upon us and I gladly take advantage of the high quality and low price. Of course it fits right in with my omega-3 and antioxidant rich diet. After a month of experimenting with a more restrictive form of anti-inflammatory diet, I cannot say my ankle inflammation is getting any better nor do I feel any differently in general. The lump is so big now it is beginning to interfere with my daily activities. I will meet with an orthopaedic surgeon this week to discuss my options.
Like any dietary regiment, I do not expect to see changes overnight. One approach to anti-inflammatory diet is to maintain an overall balance that leads the body to produce more anti-inflammatory chemicals. Rather than totally abstaining from certain food such as grains and starchy vegetable, I will only eat them in moderation and always bear in mind to offset them with some anti-inflammatory superstars. It doesn’t mean I’m going to have cake, pastry, and bread everyday. But I welcome the return of whole grains, beans, dairy, and sweet summer fruit to my menu. Cold water fish, ginger, allium, nuts, and spices will continue to play significant role in my diet. Keeping that in mind, here is my menu of last Saturday night’s family dinner.
Salmon (Again?!) Dinner
Let me first begin with dessert, which ought to be assembled about three hours ahead. Yes, dessert. And it isn’t even gluten free. Do you know that a stack of four graham cracker is only 120 kCal? So it is not exactly the most nutritious treat I can reach for but not bad as a key component to my Strawberry Rose Yogurt Icebox Cake. Icebox cake is a gift to home bakers during summer. No oven, no stove, just assemble and let the fridge do the work. I made icebox cakes in the past but the magic never ceases to amaze me. “Soggy graham cracker that tastes like cake” is not quite an appetizing description but accurately tells the transformation of icebox cake.
To make three individual size cakes, I lightly sweetened 3/4 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt with a tablespoon each of rose syrup and honey. I spread a thin layer of yogurt on the bottom of each graham cracker and a thicker layer on top. I sandwiched some sliced strawberries between the layers until each cake was four layers tall. The cakes sat patiently in the fridge until the graham crackers softened. Just before serving, I garnished them with some chopped pistachio and more strawberries for a light dessert. Easy as can be!
For the main course, simplicity was key. I wanted to highlight the delicate taste of sockeye salmon without masking it with other strong flavours. Oven roasting the fillet seasoned with salt and pepper left nowhere to hide. Which was a good thing because the fish tasted so good it deserved the focus. It was served on a bed of roasted fennel and red grapes which countered the rich salmon with caramelized sweetness. This recipe from Whole Foods is truly ingredient driven. Only make it when your fish is top notch!
While the fennel and grapes were roasting, I made the Baby Kale & Mango Salad with Guacamole Dressing. Who doesn’t love guacamole? I took all the familiar ingredients including avocado, cilantro, green onion, garlic, and lime juice, blended with non-fat Greek yogurt, and thinned with water until the dressing was of pourable consistency. This creamy dressing stood up well against sturdy baby kale, juicy mango, and sweet heirloom tomato in this bold salad. I had plenty of dressing leftover which I plan to enjoy as dip for crudités.
As you can see, dinner is still firmly planted on the healthy side of the eating spectrum. To be honest, I was getting a little bored of eating the same few ingredients all month long. Hopefully this small step in my diet evolution will bring in more variations in tastes and better balance to both macro- and micro-nutrients.