If you’ve been hear awhile, you know that I don’t encourage “dieting” – following a restrictive diet plan for a specified period of time until you achieve a health goal. Why? Because that isn’t sustainable. I want you to create a “diet” for your life, a plan you can follow all the time. Then when you achieve your health goals, you will MAINTAIN them. If you follow the keto diet to lose 20 pounds, then stop eating keto, you likely will not maintain your weight loss.
However, there are some “diets” out there I can agree with, as they are more lifestyle related. While there is science indicating these have health benefits, I feel they are sustainable over a lifetime rather than a quick fix. The two I am most familiar with are the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet.
Today, I want to quickly highlight the DASH diet and share a yummy recipe that fits within that diet, as well as most healthful diet plans. The DASH diet was originally intended for helping to lower high blood pressure (DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). It was successful at that in studies. But the recommendations in this DASH diet are also similar to the recommendations for improving other aspects of your health, including cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
What can you eat on the DASH diet? The DASH diet tries to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption and lower your sodium consumption. You should eat 6-8 servings of grains (especially whole grains), 4-5 servings per day of vegetables (1 cup per serving), 4-5 servings of fruits, 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy (easy on the cheese which is high in sodium), 6 ounces or fewer per day of lean meat, poultry, or fish, 4-5 servings of nuts or legumes per week, focusing on monounsaturated fats, and 5 servings or fewer per week of sweets. So overall, what most of us would consider a healthful diet. Lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. And it does allow a moderate amount of sweets and fats.
The other (sort of) great news about the DASH diet – you don’t have to follow it exactly to reap the benefits. In studies where participants saw drops in blood pressure and other health benefits, they often weren’t meeting the goals for the DASH diet exactly. But in their attempts to reach them, their diets had still improved. So even steps in the right direction help.
I will admit I was a bit skeptical of this salmon sheet pan dinner. It is definitely a different flavor profile than I usually do with salmon. But it was really delicious. The apple, onion, and kale mixture provides a lot of flavor. Enjoy!
Salmon and Farro Sheet Pan Dinner (Serves 4)
4 salmon fillets (4-6 ounces each)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
black pepper to taste
1 honey crisp or tangy apple, cored and sliced thin
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
1 (14 ounce) can low sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1 lemon, sliced thin
1 ½ cups cooked farro or quinoa
1 large bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
- Rub shrimp all over with paprika, thyme, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Arrange the apple, onion, and chickpeas around the fish, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over them, and season with pepper. Arrange the lemon slices over the top of the whole tray. Bake until fish reaches 140 degrees, about 10-15 minutes (depends on the thickness of your fillets).
- Turn oven to broil, cook 1 more minute until fish is lightly charred (just a little crispy on top). Remove from oven. Reduce temperature to 400 degrees F.
- Remove the fish to a plate. Add the farro/quinoa and kale to the baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 more tablespoon olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Toss with the apple/onion mixture. Place fish on top again. Place back in oven just to warm it all through, 3-5 minutes. Serve.
Nutrition information (amount per serving):
Protein: 35 g
Fat: 30 g
Saturated fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 70 mg
Carbohydrates: 44 g
Fiber: 11 mg
Sodium: 258 mg
Recipe notes: I find farro at my local produce store, Sprouts. I cooked it by bringing 2 quarts of water to boil. I added the farro and simmered until they were under, 15-20 minutes. It is kind of like eating slightly chewier rice. I liked it, my kids were skeptical. As is always the case in my house, I ask them to try it. If they don’t like it, I thank them for trying and we move on. I remove the lemons before serving, but if you like eating lemons you could leave them.
Source: slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest