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Just Keep Swimming: Salmon and Stress

Snap, crackle, pop! That’s not just the sound of a beloved sugary cereal; it’s the sound of crispy Salmon in the frying pan. As a huge salmon fan, I was very pleased to learn that this wonderful fish is one of the best foods for stress relief. In order to help us stay healthy while mixing things up, let’s take a look at the reasons why salmon is so good for you and dip into some of my favorite ways to use the versatile fish.

The Science

Scientists and philosophers have long known that there is a link between the state of our bodies and the state of our minds. However, while the Ancient Greeks believed that imbalances in our bodies caused various emotional imbalances, we now know that this relationship is much more of a two-way street. A poor mental state can make you physically unhealthy.

The feeling of stress causes your body to release a variety of hormones. In the short term, these hormones can help you push through a stressful situation. If you’re continually anxious, however, these very same hormones can damage your immune system, your organs, and even your brain.

The good news is that there are things you can do in your everyday life before it comes to a point where you need to seek treatment. Researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered a link between fish oil and maintaining low levels of anxiety in our daily lives. The team’s explanation of this link is that the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are important to decreasing the amount of stress hormones in our bodies.

Salmon is well-known for its high Omega-3 content. Even better, it tastes great. Below, I’ll give you some of my favorite ways of preparing salmon that go beyond your usual recipes, so you can have a great meal and lower your stress levels all in one go.

The Recipes

Salmon with Italian Salsa Verde

Salmon with Salsa Verde

Grilling or pan frying the fish with a touch of salt and a nice Italian salsa verde is easily my favorite salmon recipe of all time. The highlight here is, of course, not the cooking of the fish, but the accompaniment that’s served with it. You’ll need:


1 bunch of Italian Parsley

1 clove of Garlic

½ tbsp of Dijon Mustard

3-4 tbsp of Olive Oil

1 tbsp each of Lemon Juice and Red Wine Vinegar (or other acids)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Other herbs as desired (dill, thyme, etc.)

This is a very simple herb dressing that works well with any meat or fish, but it really shines when paired with a nice fatty salmon filet. It’s very simple to prepare as well. Here are two methods:

  1. Toss everything in the blender.

Assemble your ingredients and blend until fine. It’s a good idea to blend your parsley and garlic first, though, so that those break down before you mix them with the liquid ingredients.

  1. Chop-n-Mix

Chop the parsley and garlic until they’re as fine as you like them. Add those to a bowl and stir in your mustard, oil, and acids.  This method takes a little more time and usually produces a coarser sauce, but it’s definitely my favorite.

One great thing about this salsa verde is that you can throw in just about anything from your garden or pantry. The ingredients that I’ve listed above are bare bones, but just about any Italian herb works great in this.

This is also a great time to think about growing your own herb garden. If you haven’t already, there’s no reason not to. If space is a problem for you like it was for me, try some innovative gardening. Lately I have been loving how easy it is to walk over to my garden and pick a handful of basil, oregano, and mint for a recipe like this. You can also toss in anchovies, chili peppers, and capers.

Creamy Salmon Pasta

Salmon Pasta

This pasta dish is a little more decadent than the above dish, but it’s a great dish when you’ve got company with lots of amazing flavors. It’s also a great way to stretch a smaller fish.


10 ounces Skinned Salmon Filet

One 16 ounce Package of Fettuccine Pasta

½ a Yellow Onion

1 cup of loosely packed Spinach

8-10 ounces Cherry Tomatoes

½ cup of Creme Fraiche

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

This looks like a lot of ingredients, but the preparation is really so simple.

1. First things first, get a pot of boiling water ready for your fettuccine. Cook that according to the instructions on the package. Usually right after the tomatoes go in is a good time to start the pasta, but do whatever you need to do so that everything finishes up at around the same time. You can also heat up a pan on medium for everything that isn’t pasta.

2.  Dice up your yellow onion and saute it in the olive oil. While the onions are cooking, slice your cherry tomatoes in half and toss those into the pan. Make sure to keep things moving. You don’t want to burn the onions.

3.  Put the spinach in about a minute or two before you’re ready for the creme fraiche. It just needs to wilt to make room for the fish.

4.  Add your creme fraiche and give that a few seconds to liquefy a bit. It looks like sour cream in the container, but it turns so soft the minute it hits the heat. We don’t want to use sour cream here because it can separate when cooked.  I prefer creme fraiche to heavy cream because it feels a bit lighter in the dish and its signature tang goes wonderfully with the meaty salmon.

5.  Now it’s time to add in your fish. You can just slide the whole filet into the pan if you like, or cut in into however many pieces you need to make it fit. Don’t worry about making it bite size right that second, though, it’ll do that on its own. At this point you can turn the heat down to low and let the salmon poach in the creme fraiche. If things start to get a little dry in the pan, feel free to add a splash of water as you need.

6.  The salmon is finished when it falls apart easily under pressure. At this point you can toss your cooked pasta in and give the whole thing a mix. Add a pinch of dill to compliment the salmon and season to your taste.

7.  Serve in the kitchen or carry a heavy bowl to the table.

Let us know which salmon recipe you are going to try in the comments section!

NC_HeadshotNick Cesare is a violist and writer from Boise, Idaho. He loves trying out new recipes and biking in the Boise foothills.  You can find him on twitter and his website Idahoviola.

This post first appeared on Simply Playful Fare, please read the originial post: here

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Just Keep Swimming: Salmon and Stress


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