Salmon chowder for spring

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It was quite the long winter (at least for this anti-cold weather human), and we’ve been dealing with a roller coaster of temperatures over the past month or so. All of these seasonal changes have me struggling to plan my meals while trying to accommodate my tastebuds and bodily temperature. As the weather warms up, I begin craving light, coastal meals and when the weather cools down, I want something to warm me up but still be healthy. 

People ask me all the time for my “family and consumer science agent, backed by science” opinion of diets and eating habits. The truth is, there is only one diet backed by research and recommended as effective for overall good health, and that’s the Mediterranean Diet. This “diet” isn’t necessarily something that will lead you to drop a substantial number of pounds in a short time frame (although it is possible). This “diet” is more of a long-term eating pattern that has proven positive health outcomes. It’s simple. Eat lots of various fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and use herbs, spices and healthy oils in your cooking. Drink and eat less added sugar and saturated fat. It really is that simple. 

The Mediterranean diet has been proven to decrease the risk of some cancers, is more effective than a low-fat diet in overweight and obese individuals, protects against cognitive decline by protecting blood vessels in the brain (that’s a 40 percent reduction of the risk of Alzheimer’s to be exact), and may improve eye health by decreasing the risk of macular degeneration. If that isn’t enough reason to “go Med,” consider that the Med way reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, helps manage blood pressure and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease by 30 to 60 percent.

With seasonal changes in mind, I chose this salmon chowder (http://medinsteadofmeds.com/salmon-chowder/) as my go-to Med meal. The salmon reminds me of blue waters on warm days and is a nice, healthy chowder when it is cooler outside. When I make this particular dish, I practice what I preach: “Recipes are not rules, they’re just a guide.” I swap the whole milk for less saturated fat, and a lighter twist, by using skim or low-fat milk. I also like to add more carrots and include spinach for added fiber. You could use whole-wheat flour and a little baking powder rather than all-purpose flour to make it even healthier. Do what works for you and what you have on-hand in your pantry. 

For more information about the Mediterranean diet, visit www.medinsteadofmeds.com or visit our website at www.wilson.ces.ncsu.edu and look under the “Family and Consumer Sciences” tab. 

I will be hosting a series beginning in June where you can taste-test Med recipes and get a better understanding of what is truly healthy. You can find all of that information on the Wilson County Cooperative Extension Website. As always, feel free to contact me for more information at cdhobbs3@ncsu.edu or 252-237-0111.

Salmon Chowder

Cassidy Hobbs says she uses skim or low-fat milk and adds more carrots in additional to spinach for added fiber.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/3 cup chopped celery

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper-

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup precooked brown and wild rice

1 (3 1/2-ounce) package smoked salmon, torn into small pieces

2 tablespoons chopped green onions

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add oil and swirl to coat. Add onion, carrot, celery, salt and cayenne pepper and sauté for 4 minutes.

Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Combine milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Add milk mixture to pan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.

Stir in rice and salmon, and cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

Sprinkle evenly with green onions before serving.

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