Thursday, February 27, 2014

coconut crusted salmon with lemony quinoa

This scrumptious meal is light but nourishing and makes me think of Spring. The herbed coconut crust on the salmon is so delicious and carb-free. Pine nuts and spinach round out the quinoa and make it a perfect side dish. Salmon recipe adapted from Trim Healthy Mama and the quinoa from kale&chocolate

Let's talk about some of the health benefits first:
Salmon is high in protein. It is extremely important to supply our bodies with enough protein because our muscles, organs, bones, cartilage, skin, and antibodies are composed of protein and need enough to repair themselves and prevent cellular breakdown. Salmon is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids which are necessary for cardiovascular and cognitive health. It is an excellent source of selenium, a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals which damage cells and leave them vulnerable to cancer, infection, and disease. Salmon also contains high levels of B vitamins which are vital for a healthy metabolism and good mental health.
Coconut contains lauric acid which helps raise the high density level cholesterol which keeps arteries free from plaque accumulation. It is packed with B vitamins and copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, and even calcium. Using this in place of breadcrumbs boosts the nutrition value and cuts out carbs.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a nutrition packed seed that cooks like a grain. It contains all eight essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is gluten-free, high in B vitamins, and has iron, zinc, potassium, calcium and vitamin E.
Pine nuts are really seeds from certain pine trees. They contain essential minerals and heart friendly mono-unsaturated fatty acids that help reduce cholesterol levels, vitamin E and vitamin B.


for the salmon:
4 Salmon filets (I like skin on, wild preferably)
mayonnaise (see below for home made) or eggs
1 cup dried coconut
sea salt
garlic powder and/or onion powder
dried parsley
cayenne pepper if you like some spice

for the quinoa:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
sea salt
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cups raw spinach, thinly sliced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
pepper to taste

1. To make the salmon "breading", place coconut, herbs and spices in blender and blend until fine. Pour onto large dinner plate.
2. Rub salmon fillets with mayo or dip into a couple whisked eggs. Then press into coconut mix and coat generously. Place in greased baking dish
3. Bake at 350ยบ until fish is done and coating is crispy. Check after 10 minutes. Fish is done when outer layer is opaque and inside is still a darker pink. If you want the outside more crispy then place under broiler for 1-2 minutes.

1. Rinse quinoa for a few minutes to make sure all the bitter-tasting chemicals called saponins are removed. Transfer to a saucepan and add 1 tsp. salt and 1 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. If they seem to firm after 15 minutes add a tad more water and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit, covered, for an additional 5 minutes.
2. Transfer quinoa to a serving bowl and add toasted pine nuts, spinach, lemon zest and parsely. Place the sliced spinach on top.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil to form an emulsion. Pour dressing on top of quinoa tossing to blend all ingredients. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.


I tried making my own mayo from scratch quite unsuccessfully before. This recipe made a beautiful mayo: golden, creamy and free of soybean* oil. It was very simple and quick.

1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
dash of pepper
onion powder (optional)
dash of vinegar (optional)
dash of sweetener (optional)
dijon mustard (if you want more kick)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

**update March 2015:
If you would like to end up with a more traditional tasting mayo, I have been playing around with ingredients and find that the following is pretty close:
besides the eggs I add lemon juice, a dash of vinegar, a pinch of sweetener, a dash of salt. Then I add 1 cup avocado oil (it has a pretty subtle flavor)

1. Put eggs in blender. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper and additional flavorings if desired. Blend well.
2. With blender running, slowly add the coconut and olive oil. Mix until thickened.
3. Chill before serving.

*soy beans have a high level of phytates which leech minerals out of the body. Soy affects the body's estrogen levels by converting testosterone into estrogen. It also suppresses thyroid function and can cause sterility (it all sounds kind of nasty!)

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