A Busy Gal's Idea Guide: Cooking to Boost Omega 3 Intake

Walnuts are full of healthy Omega 3's.
photo: jeltovski
You'd be hard pressed to read a health magazine or pick up the science section of the newspaper without finding an article about the benefits of omega 3's. Even though the research is still in its early stages, the consensus seems to be that these fats are good for your heart and woefully absent from the average American's diet.

We instead prefer the heart clogging omega 6's. In addition, our meat and dairy, which used to be good sources of omega 3's are no longer rich in those antioxidants.

Figures, right?

You probably know what the common sources of omega 3's are: fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. (Though you have to be careful about these fish carrying pollutants). Eggs, flax, olive oil, and walnuts are often commonly cited as well.

But you are a busy gal who is juggling work, children, a husband, and thanks to this damn recession, a host of other chores that you used to farm out. How are you supposed to get these items onto the table on any sort of regular basis?

I am no sort of cook, and I am sure that any reputable chef would wince at the ideas I am about to share. Nonetheless, I think that these creations are pretty tasty, and I know that they take minimal effort. Tasty and easy food that is good for you and your family? You can't beat that.

So, here are some easy ways to cook some of the above mentioned omega 3 rich food. Enjoy!

1) Salmon. Salmon is a big one, so I thought I'd share a couple of ideas. For all of these dishes, I cook at 350 F for 20-25 minutes depending on how thick the piece of fish is.
  • Use a basting brush to spread a bit of olive oil on the fish. Dust with herbes de Provence and sea salt
  • Again, brush the fish with olive oil. Dust with cumin and top with chopped kalamata olives
  • Purchase blue cheese stuffed olives at the grocery store. Chop. Top on salmon
  • Sprinkle salmon with feta cheese. Add chopped kalamata olives
  • Dust with Pecorino Romano cheese and herbes de Provence
2) Eggs. Eggs are back in vogue, which is fabulous. Beyond serving up some eggs on the weekends, I boil some so that they are always on hand. We eat them often for a quick lunch. The kids love to eat them whole (well, one does) and I like to chop them up and add them to salads.

3) Flax. I recently purchased ground flax seed, as I couldn't stop reading about its health benefits. This is one of the easiest things to incorporate in your menu. Simply think of it like salt or sugar: sprinkle away on just about anything. Try cereal, smoothies, soup and yogurt. You can even sprinkle it on a pasta dish that might benefit from a nutty flavor. Tell your kids it makes everything taste sweeter. (Yes, it's a lie, but it is for their own benefit, so that makes it okay, right?)

4) Walnuts. Though I could eat walnuts for a snack, my husband insists they were made solely to be put in things. I am guessing that there are people out there who concur. No problem. Just mix them with many of the things that you already make.
  • Chop them up and toss them on salads
  • Add them to breads and other baked goods
  • Chop them up with a couple of blue cheese stuffed olives and heap them on chicken breasts. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes
  • Saute them over medium heat. Add them to your vegetable dishes: after steaming chard, spinach, broccoli or green beans add nuts, olive oil, and sea salt. Mix and serve
  • Add them to yogurt or ice cream. My favorite treat is coffee ice cream with banana wheels and walnuts. Yum!
5) Olive oil. Well this is easy. Cook with it. Dress your salads with it as well. Try a baby arugula salad with olive oil, finely grated Pecorino Romano, and sea salt. It's divine.

The above is by no means a comprehensive list of foods that you can prepare to boost your omega 3 intake, but it is a good start. Try experimenting with the foods that appeal to you. Your meals don't have to be fancy, and they sure don't have to take long to prepare. Get in the kitchen, do your thing, and enjoy the rest of your time with your family. Cheers!

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