Our family is on a misson to eat more fish, chasing the omega 3 oil it contains, which is thought to improve health and child development. Adding more fish to our diet also achieves another goal – cutting back on red meat meals. (A sponsored post for the Heart Foundation and Nature’s Own)
Hubby’s family has a history of bowel cancer, and he lost his mother to the disease. It’s something we’re keenly aware of, along with the implications for our children. We recently had a couple of timely warnings that made us reassess our lifestyle and other aspects of our health where we could be doing better, starting with the most important – diet. Specifically, eating more fish.
As regular readers of this blog would know, cooking and good food nutrition are not my strong suits. I love making cakes but the day-to-day chore of preparing meals for my family is challenging, to say the least. So, to make things easy for myself, I’ve fallen into some habits that, while may not necessarily be really bad, certainly leave room for improvement. And when taken in the context of a history of bowel disease, these habits demand some scrutiny for the ongoing good health of my children.
My handy tips for easy meal prep
For example, I’ve long been in the habit of buying a bulk 2kg container of lean beef mince. Then, I cook that up as a bolognaise sauce (onion, carrot, zucchini, garlic, tomatoes and stock) and it gets used as a base for a range of meals which include gnocchi or any pasta variant (shells, spaghetti, spirals, etc). More often than not, the pasta is wholemeal, but not always. Or the bolognaise sauce is used in lasagna, or in mini meat pies, or wrapped in puff pastry for sausage rolls (afternoon tea snack when the kids get home from school), or transformed into the Mexican meat sauce for tacos for a Saturday night dinner. It’s a handy little trick, but as we’ve recently become aware, eating red meat that often (up to seven times a week) is not ideal for internal health, such as bowel and heart.
Health guidelines on red meat consumption
Current recommendations say 500g of cooked lean red meat a week is the maximum permissable level before risk of cancer goes up. But for a family with a high disposition towards bowel cancer (another member of hubby’s family is currently battling the disease) it would be more responsible to limit this amount further. The UK’s Telegraph newspaper reports that “a pigment found in red meat seems to damage the DNA of cells lining the digestive system – and DNA damage is one of the first signs of cancer“. So we’re now aiming for two or three times a week, red meat, and the rest will be white meat and fish.
Fish is rich in Omega 3
An issue to bear in mind when increasing the fish in your family’s diet is mercury. Current guidelines recommend fish no more than twice a week for children. Fish has many health benefits, including – but not limited to – Omega 3 fatty acids, which are proven to be beneficial to heart and brain health.
How to go about it
And becoming aware of cancer-risk foods, what I have found is that I’ve naturally investigated other foods linked to higher risks of cancer. We’re focused now, as a family, on eating foods that do not increase our risks of heart disease and bowel cancer. So, we’re a high fibre, low fat consuming family.
I’m going to continue to blog about my efforts to increase healthier foods into the family’s diet, because as most mothers know, kids can be tricky sometimes. They don’t necessarily want to eat what’s best for them. In fact, in my experience, if you let them, kids will eat the brightest coloured foods they can find, the highest in salt, sugar and fat, if you let them.
I’m going to begin by making Tuesday nights Fish Night. It’s an easy night for me to think about what I’m preparing and how to make creative dishes for the kids because hubby and the boys are at jujitsu until 7.30pm, giving me a good few hours to concentrate. And I’m going to make Saturday mornings my delicious Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese on Toast mornings (one of my most favourite breakfasts EVER). See recipe below.
Recipe: Smoked Salmon, cream cheese and basil on toast/cruskit
- Light cream cheese
- Smoked salmon
- Basil (preferrably homegrown, as pictured here, from our very own herb garden!)
- I normally have vine-ripened, or truss, or even home-grown tomato also, but on the day of this blog post, was all out of tomato!
- Lay the toast or cruskit down, spread with cheese, layer with smoked salmon, (then tomato if you have it) and garnish with home-grown basil.
- Voila! Tasty treat just for you, high in Omega 3. Eat and enjoy.
I would love to hear other people’s tips for healthier eating with the kids. Any favourite recipes? Top tips for getting healthy fish into their diet?