Easy, Healthy, Good: Sweet Potatoes, Fish, and Broccoli

April 9, 2014

I’ve written before about holiday cooking verses everyday cooking and weight loss verses weight management. I hear often from my patients that they are “busy”, “don’t have the time,” didn’t “plan well,” etc. Healthy cooking and food preparation are skills. As such, they will get better with practice. I used to get really stressed out about putting together a complete and healthy (and palatable) meal whose parts would all finish at the same time. Today I share my go-to, midweek, casual entertaining, anytime, healthy, delicious, and satisfying meal that has been a consistent part of my life for years – including on a recent vacation!

I like it because these ingredients are always on hand, so this meal is always an option. The ingredients are simple and basic, but quite tasty and satisfying. I can come home from work at 6:15p, and be eating by 7:30pm. Most of the time is waiting for the food to cook, not actual prepping, so I can do other things (or have a glass of wine). If you are new to cooking, practice this meal a few times, and I think you will agree with me that it’s more “food preparation” than “cooking.” This meal can be used as a template. The miso tahini green bean recipe that I always speak of substitutes really well for the broccoli, any starch can replace the sweet potato, and any source of protein can replace the fish.

Sweet Potatoes, Fish, and Broccoli

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Sweet potatoes:

My favorite variety is absolutely the Japanese sweet potato. Runner up is the Garnet yam. I like to make 2 Japanese and 1 Garnet at once. It’s good for a meal and several days of leftovers for 2. ½ cup cooked is my suggested serving for ladies, 1 cup for guys. More or less depending on your appetite and activity level.

These take the longest to bake, so put them in first. Preheat oven to 375, spray large sheet with non-stick spray (we use coconut oil). Cut potatoes into fork-sized bites, mist or toss with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with:

o   salt and cinnamon (my favorite)

o   salt and rosemary

o   salt, pepper, garlic powder

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Bake these for at least 60 minutes until tender. Cook longer for softer pieces. The white inside of the Japanese sweet potato will remain starchier than the Garnet yam.   Add fish to the oven when these are at least halfway done. That gives you more than 3o minutes to prep the fish, but since that really only takes a few minutes, go pour that wine, start some laundry, do some yoga. . .

When blood sugars are regulated, sweet potatoes and yams (basically the same things in this country), will taste sweet, like candy. Don’t roll your eyes until your blood sugars are regulated – you’ll see! I recommend increasing the intake of such naturally sweet food when trying to decrease or get out of the refined sugar habit. Sweet potatoes are very easy to digest, even by developing, sensitive, or diseased digestive systems. In terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine the yellow/orange color of the yam supplements and strengthens the earth/digestive organs of the spleen and stomach. Further, according to the doctrine of signatures (“like treats like”), the funky shape of the sweet potatoes resembles the pancreas. Studies suggest that sweet potatoes help to regulate insulin function and blood glucose levels.

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Fish:

Any wild fish. We always have a few packages of Trader Joe’s frozen wild sockeye salmon ($9.99/pound). Plan ahead to have one defrosted, or you can submerge in warm-hot water until defrosted. Frozen fish is an easy, affordable way to include fish regularly in your diet. Fresh catches from a fishmonger will be superior in taste, texture, and (probably?) health benefits, but will cost 2-3 times more.

Spray casserole dish or Pyrex with non-stick spray. Place fish in dish and cover with fresh squeezed lemon juice. I use ½ lemon for 2 large portions. Coat evenly with: salt, pepper, garlic powder, dill, and thyme. Bake 15-25 minutes depending on thickness and how well done you prefer your fish. It will be opaque/flaky in the center when fully cooked. Give the sweet potatoes a flip and a stir when you put the fish in the oven.

Broccoli:

Buying broccoli or other vegetables isn’t the time to “cut back.” If you’re used to buying 1 head at a time, try buying 4 – or more! Organic frozen broccoli is a convenient choice, and we always have 2-3 bags on hand. Frozen broccoli heats up well steamed or in the microwave and ensures you will never be without some vegetables! For those who like to feel full after a meal and volume is a concern, this is the category that you want to indulge in. If you want to pig out/feel full/eat more – go for it here. I still believe that nobody ever got fat by eating too many vegetables, and I also believe in the ability to heal with colorful, nutrient-dense food. More is good here.

I stand over our big soup pot with steamer insert and cut off the florets in the air, having them drop directly into the steamer. No cutting board, no mess. We save the stalks for broccoli soup. Cover and steam over medium heat until tender (I like on the softer side), 10-20 minutes. Put the fish in after you turn on the heat for the broccoli.

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I now like plain, steamed broccoli, but you can also mist with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder – it’s really good this way. Try it!

My boyfriend and I recently traveled to Sedona, Arizona. We stayed in a beautiful cabin, and after a long day of hiking we’d cook really awesome dinners – including this one. We both preferred our cooking to anything we could have ordered at a restaurant. We spent good money on the wild fish and organic vegetables, but dining out would have cost more while sacrificing quality and satisfaction.  I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I do. I would love to hear from you if you try it, and I’d also like to learn about your favorite go-to, healthy meals in the comments section.

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You are what you eat.

In good health,

Molly

 

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One Response to “Easy, Healthy, Good: Sweet Potatoes, Fish, and Broccoli”

  1. Barbara Levy Says:

    This is our go-to meal when your Mom is in town. She (and we) never seem to tire of it. Good choice!
    Barbara L.


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