Three Ways to Cook Cod

The mild-flavored -- but supremely versatile -- cod provides the perfect base for a healthy meal.

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In the world of seafood, cod is a quiet cousin. Other fish, especially salmon and tuna, get all the attention as standout sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But the humble cod is unfairly forgotten, says Elisabetta Politi, RD, MPH, nutrition manager of the Duke Diet & Fitness Center. "I sometimes think we emphasize the omega-3-rich fish so much that we forget that eating fish in general is a great strategy to control your weight and also [help] prevent heart disease," Politi says.

Cod, which belongs to the same fish family as haddock and pollock, is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins B6 and B12. Cod liver oil is one of the best sources of vitamin D. Cod is good for you in other ways, too.

"When we eat fish, we tend to eat fewer calories and less saturated fat, which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease," Politi says. Cod has just 30 calories per ounce, a fraction of the calories in red meat or chicken. A 3-ounce serving has 90 calories, plus 19 grams of protein and only 1 gram of fat. Another bonus: Cod is a smart choice if you're watching your cholesterol, because it has almost no saturated fat.

With a mild taste, cod is the perfect backdrop for a variety of flavors, and it cooks in minutes. "It's a great choice if you want to prepare a healthy meal in no time," Politi says.

Cod Tacos With Jalapeño Coleslaw

Makes 6 servings

Pair cod tacos with fresh, crunchy coleslaw for a new twist on taco night.

Ingredients

1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise

2 Tbsp low-fat milk

1 Tbsp white vinegar

1/2 tsp sugar

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 (14-ounce) bag coleslaw mix

cooking spray

6 (5-ounce) cod fillets

dash of salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 tomato, diced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Continued

1 to 2 limes, cut in wedges

Directions

1. Make coleslaw: Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl, whisk to blend, and toss with coleslaw mix to combine thoroughly. Set aside.

2. Coat a large, nonstick grill pan with cooking spray, and heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle cod fillets with salt and pepper. Add to pan, and cook 3 minutes on each side or until flaky. Remove fish from pan.

3. Warm tortillas; then place cod, onions, and coleslaw on each. Garnish with tomatoes and cilantro. Fold tortillas in half, and serve with lime wedges.

Per serving: 291 calories, 30 g protein, 38 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 62 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 258 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 9%

Mediterranean Cod Packets With Quinoa

Makes 6 servings

Cod is a lean fish, so it gets dry if overcooked. These packets ensure moist fillets.

Ingredients

1½ cups quinoa

1/2 tsp salt

6 (5-ounce) cod fillets

1 tsp garlic powder

dash of salt

1 tsp pepper

1½ tsp grated lemon zest

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp capers, drained

1 large Vidalia (or other sweet) onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley

juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup dry white wine (can substitute chicken stock)

6 (12- to 18-inch) sheets heavy-duty aluminum foil

Directions

1. Rinse and drain quinoa. In a 4-quart heavy-bottom pan, bring 3 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add quinoa and salt. Reduce to simmer. Cover and cook about 15-18 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

2. Heat grill to medium-high. Sprinkle cod fillets with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Combine olive oil, capers, onion, parsley, lemon juice, and white wine in a medium bowl. Place one fillet on the center of each piece of foil, and top with onion mixture. Bring edges of foil together and fold and crimp them to seal packets, leaving room for expansion.

3. Place foil packets on grill. Cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from grill. Carefully open packets and serve over quinoa.

Per serving: 317 calories, 31 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 60 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 317 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 17%

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Sizzling Cod With Confetti Vegetable Salad

Makes 6 servings

This salad is especially good with fresh corn and tomatoes, but canned plum tomatoes and frozen corn work, too.

Ingredients

3 ears corn, husked

1/4 cup chopped shallots

2 large tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup fresh basil

6 5-ounce cod fillets

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground

pepper

3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, washed

1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 fresh lemons, cut in wedges

Directions

1. With a sharp knife, cut corn kernels off the cob. Coat a large grill pan with cooking spray, and heat over medium-high heat. Add corn and shallots, and sauté 4-5 minutes, until corn is tender and shallots are translucent. Place corn mixture in a bowl, add tomatoes and basil, and toss gently.

2. Sprinkle cod fillets evenly with salt and pepper. Coat skillet again with cooking spray, return to medium-high heat, and add fish. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until flaky.

3. To serve, place 1/2 cup fresh spinach on each plate. Top with a cod fillet and tomato-corn mixture, and drizzle with white balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges.

Per serving: 221 calories, 28 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 60 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 293 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 24%

The opinions expressed in this section are of the experts and are not the opinions of WebMD. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

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WebMD Magazine - Feature Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on July 15, 2012

Sources

SOURCES:

Elisabetta Politi, MPH, RD, LDN, CDE, nutrition director, Duke Diet and Fitness Center, Duke University Medical School, Durham, NC.

Purdue University: "Omega-3 Fatty Acid Content in Fish," "Alternative Field Crops Manual: Quinoa."

Linus Pauling Institute: "Cruciferous Vegetables,"  "Whole Grains."

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