Acknowledging the season of lent and the strong Catholic influence in New Mexico, I must address an issue that presents itself more often than I’d like: fish can be healthy for you, but not when it is fried.
It may seem obvious, but read on. This clarification never occurred to me until one day several years ago, a fellow dietitian said that she opened her dad’s fridge and found several McDonald’s Fillet-o-Fish sandwiches. When she asked about them, he said that she had told him to eat more fish! From that day on, it cemented in my mind that every time I tell people that they should eat more fish I must clarify that it is NOT healthy if it is fried. Sometime people look at me like I’m crazy, as if it is obvious, where others ask “why” fried fish isn’t ok? I must further clarify that I am referring to deep fried fish, with batter.
The National Restaurant Association announced on Ash Wednesday that the fish promos are ready:
“Not only do savvy independent restaurateurs ready their Friday night fish fry promotions and upsell seafood entrées during Lent, but several quick-service chains have deployed their marketing and research and development dollars into seafood items for customers observing the tradition.”
Not many consumers realize that when they choose the fried fish sandwich at the quick service restaurants, these are not usually “healthier” choices as noted by this rundown of information from the respective restaurant websites today:
- McDonald’s Fillet-O-Fish: 380 calories, 18 g fat
- Wendy’s Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich: 500 calories, 24 g fat
- BK Big Fish: 640 calories, 32 g fat
- Carl’s Jr. Carl’s Catch Fish Sandwich: 710 calories, 37 g fat
- Subway 6” tuna salad sub: 530 calories, 30 g fat (while not fried, still high in calories and fat).
While this is likely a weekly occurrence for the next two months, these calories can easily add up and the fat grams are a third to half of a day’s worth in just the fish sandwich. Here is hoping you are spending Easter weekend at home and not at the heart hospital! It is when the fish isn’t fried and/or in a bath of butter, certain types of fish is good for you.
Here is what you can do to improve you fish: make your own meals. Homemade tuna salad with mustard and low-calorie mayo, grilled or broiled salmon, or salmon patties are healthier alternatives to deep fried fish. Additionally, grilled or sautéed shrimp is a good choice and easy and fast (under 30 minutes). Salmon, tuna, and shrimp are healthy options and generally easy to work with, especially when the salmon and tuna come in cans and vacuum packs.
Additionally, remember that while fish is a tradition, it isn’t required on Friday. As long as you are going meatless, you are good. So, salads are fine for lunch, and having a bean chile or other hearty vegetable stew with beans will also work on Fridays.