Your Personal Meal Planning Assistant
September 05, 2019 / Amy Height

5 Fish Dishes That Will Supercharge Your Healthy Meal Plan

Salmon Salad

The Secret Ingredient to Healthy Meal Planning: Fish!

Eating a healthy, balanced diet that suits your unique needs can help you feel your best. Meal planning is a key component of eating well: it allows for ample flexibility and creativity when planning what to eat. While it can take a few minutes up front to organize, this time investment means you’ll be able to stay on track with your healthy eating plan; plus, healthy meal planning can help you ensure balance in your diet across days or weeks, and it can help save you time and money (making it a great alternative to meal kits). Crafting a plan in advance allows you to set yourself up for success, ensuring you have delicious, healthy options on hand for when time is tight or temptation presents itself.

One often-overlooked element of a healthy meal plan is fish. This versatile, affordable protein offers a wide variety of health benefits and can be worked into meals from breakfast through dinner.

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Why Incorporate Fish Into Your Healthy Meal Plan?

Fish and seafood are excellent lean protein options to build into a healthy meal plan. There are tons of varieties of each that can be prepared in different ways, offering different health benefits and flavors.

Fish is packed with valuable vitamins and minerals such as D and B2 (riboflavin), calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish regularly to regulate blood pressure and help reduce the risk of heart disease.

While fish and seafood are typically lean options, they provide a substantial amount of healthy fats, primarily omega-3 fatty acids.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages consumption of omega-3s from food as the human body cannot produce it on its own. Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that can help promote brain and nervous system function, heart health, healthy cholesterol levels, and eyesight; and they can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can be beneficial for people dealing with arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. Omega-3s are also valuable for women who are pregnant and can benefit babies in utero by supporting healthy brain development. A meal plan for fertility would focus on incorporating these proteins often.

Bacon-Wrapped Tilapia with Spinach & Lemon Aioli00271 (2) (1)

Recipe: Bacon-wrapped tilapia with spinach and lemon aoili

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends working fish, in particular cold-water varieties, into your diet at least twice weekly, which can include species like sardines, salmon, herring, trout, and mackerel. Try to make these versatile ingredients a cornerstone of your weekly meals when meal planning.

Fish makes a great addition to a meal plan because it’s easy to prepare in different ways. Baking, broiling, grilling, and poaching are some of the healthiest options; and these cooking methods offer flexibility when creating variety in your meals.

Fish Versus Chicken and Beef

Protein is important, no matter what kind of diet plan you follow. Protein supports functions throughout the body including immune function, enzyme creation, brain and nervous system health, and tissue growth and maintenence.

One of the easiest ways to take in adequate protein (if you choose an omnivorous diet) is through animal protein sources. This includes meat, poultry, fish, and seafood, all of which are included in eating plans like Paleo, Whole30, and ketogenic.

Beef, poultry, and fish contain varying levels of protein. Beef contains the highest amount of protein per hundred grams (at about 36 grams of protein in that portion size). Beef also contains Vitamin E, potassium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, sodium. If you're looking for omega-3s, opt for grass-fed beef, which contains about double the amount compared to conventional beef. In this same size serving, beef contains about 11 grams of saturated fat, which is about a third of your daily recommended intake according to the American Heart Association. Saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Chicken contains about 25 grams of protein per hundred grams and relatively less fat compared to beef. Chicken is also a good source of iron and is easily digested. While chicken is lower in saturated fat, its overall nutritional profile is less complex than that of beef or fish.

When it comes to fish, the amount of protein varies by species. Fish and seafood are also low in saturated fat and contain levels of omega-3s higher than chicken or beef. Fish also provides Vitamins A and D, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and iodine. Thanks to the unsaturated, healthy fats and variety of minerals found in fish, the American Heart Association promotes making fish dishes part of your healthy meal plan: regular intake can help reduce the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest, and stroke.

Easy Fish Dishes to Make at Home

Fish is a terrific ingredient to work into a healthy meal plan. It’s versatile and can be prepared easily in a variety of styles to appeal to varied taste buds, preferences, and time-constraints. A new sauce or seasoning combined with a change in cooking method, and a piece of fish can become an entirely unique dish!

PlateJoy offers hundreds of delicious fish dishes to work into your custom meal plan. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Salmon salad with avocado, citrus, and ginger dressing

Salmon Salad

Try this surprisingly simple salmon salad, which is loaded with vegetables and a touch of sweetness from fruit.

2. Tilapia and quinoa with feta and cucumber

Tilapia and quinoa with feta and cucumber teig 130703 4131 (1)

This tilapia and quinoa dish is perfect for a warm summer evening or a quick post-work dinner.

3. Grilled swordfish with parsley potatoes

Grilled swordfish with parsley potatoes & side salad (1)

Pair this grilled swordfish with a salad for a filling, balanced meal.

4. Salmon patties with avocado spread

Salmon patties with avocado spread-1 (1)

Mix up your breakfast game and add some omegas to your morning with these salmon patties with avocado spread.

5. Pecan-crusted cod with cucumber salad

Pecan-crusted cod with cucumber salad and tartar sauce (1)

Explore a variety of gluten-free fish dishes like this pecan-crusted cod, and let PlateJoy help you build a gltuen-free shopping list.

The Takeaway

Fish offers an array of healthy fats, protein, minerals, and vitamins to support your body’s functioning, reduce inflammation, and support the growth and maintenance of tissues. Working these budget-friendly, versatile ingredients into your healthy meal plan can be a great way to create balance in your diet and ensure you’re taking in adequate protein and omega-3s. PlateJoy can be a useful tool to work more fish dishes into your diet, particularly if you want support finding delicious recipes using a variety of types of fish. PlateJoy’s custom meal plans will allow you to search for fish dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and select recipes that suit your preferences.

Amy Height
Holistic Nutritionist @ From the Ground Up Wellness

Amy Height is the founder of From the Ground Up Wellness, a holistic nutrition practice where she specializes in plant-based nutrition and helping her clients combat food addiction. She completed her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she received her certification in the Health Coach Training Program. She is a triathlete and CrossFitter with a passion for all things outdoors. By night, Amy stage manages Broadway musicals and she frequently travels North America seeking out the best vegan restaurants and the best run courses. Follow her on Instagram or check out her blog for recipe and wellness ideas.

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