By Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD
You’ve probably heard the recommendations to eat fish at least twice a week. As a mom of two children, 5 and 7, and as the primary shopper and cook in the family, I strive to help my family meet this goal. Am I always successful? No. But I do have a game plan.
I plan my meals a month in advance. I tweak the plan along the way and shop weekly. This allows me to look at the variety of our meals for the whole month and strategically insert fish and other items. I plan for at least one weekly dinner meal to include fish, whether it’s salmon, trout, shrimp, or fish tacos. And I strive for one lunch per week to be fish-oriented, whether it’s a tuna sandwich or salmon cakes.
Now, to the reality. Although both my husband and I love fish, we have one child who will eat it and another who will not.
Both my kids ate fish in the first couple of years of life, but both dropped it once they hit the picky stage (ages 2-6). I kept serving it, though, and my daughter would take a bite here and there. She really likes breaded food, so I tried turning salmon into nuggets and she loved it. More recently she has graduated to eating fish in its “naked” form.
My son, the younger one, still shows no interest in fish in any form, but I don’t push it. I know that if I nag him or make him take a bite, he may stay wary of fish for the rest of his life, as so many people seem to do. (In fact, research shows fish is one of the foods most forced onto kids.) So for now, he just watches the rest of us enjoy it. I’m confident he will eventually join in. Since he’s a pasta lover, I’m working on a recipe for a tuna casserole that will hopefully work as a stepping stone. We’ll see.
And, despite my best efforts, we do still take fish oil as a back-up. For my son it’s every week, and for the rest of us it’s on those weeks when life throws a curveball and fish just doesn’t end up on the table.
If you’re looking for ways to get your family eating fish, here’s a recipe for salmon sticks that (may) appeal to young kids. (It worked with my daughter.) You don’t have to make all the fish this way. Try cutting off a portion of the fish to make the breaded sticks.
1 pound salmon
Melted butter or one egg beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut fish into 1-1.5 inch pieces. In a bowl, mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and salt. In another bowl, melt butter or whisk the egg. Dip each piece into the butter or egg and roll in bread crumb mix and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Serve immediately.
Do you and your family eat fish? Any favorite recipes to share?