Of all the fish in the sea, salmon is among the fanciest. (I blame brunch.) But you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy it regularly. In spite of its bougie reputation, salmon is accessible enough that you can pick it up in a tin can at almost any grocery store. And that’s precisely why you should use it to prepare quick, healthy, and affordable meals, says celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak.
“It’s funny because we think of frozen food and canned food as less healthy, but in fact not only are they as healthy, but often they’re even healthier,” said Pasternak at an event in partnership with Marshalls in New York City. “You see, how fish is caught is they go out in these big fishing boats, they catch the fish, and can it on the boat. They actually cut the fish, clean it, put it in a can, seal the can so it’s a-septic, and then they steam the can so the salmon is actually poached in the can.” The more you know, right?
“We think of frozen food and canned food as less healthy, but in fact not only are they as healthy, but often they’re even healthier.” —Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer
Kellie Gragg, RDN, a licensed dietician in Colorado, says there’s one more reason to call the packaged fish your new best friend. “Canned salmon may also contain less mercury because smaller, less ‘attractive’ fish are typically used for canning. Smaller fish equals less time to absorb mercury in the wild,” she explains.
When shopping for canned salmon, Gragg says to be mindful of the information on the label. Choose a wild caught variety with no other ingredients besides salt. Make sure that the packaging indicates that the fish has only been cooked once and that it was packed immediately after it was caught. If possible, find a product packaged in a BPA-free can.
A sliver of salmon, with all its omega-3 fatty acids, will serve you well in many dishes, but Pasternak (whose client roster includes boss babes like Alicia Keys and Hilary Duff, NBD) has a favorite: “I’ll do a salmon melt on a sweet potato,” he says. “And I’ll use a little bit of real mayo, like really good mayo. And then a little bit of sriracha and mix it up.” Pop that potato in the microwave or oven, top it with some salmon, and—bam!—you’ve got a healthy dinner, 4 o’clock refuel, or midnight snack in no time.
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