February 20, 2015
It's always hard to leave behind the rich foods served during the holiday season. But one of America's obsessions seems to be eating healthy and getting “into better shape,” come January. Luckily, those of us who hunt and fish have a decided advantage when it comes to the availability of healthy, wild foods.
In a recent conversation with Justin Timineri, C.E.C., Executive Chef and Culinary Ambassador for the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the subject of healthy “wild” foods came up. Of course, “wild” means many things to many people, and to me it means “wild-harvested,” like our local fish and game.
Wild game, on one hand, can be poultry, mammals or reptiles and for the most part, is not sold commercially. There are a few exceptions (Alligator Bob's Alligator and Exotic Game Meat Snacks and pen-raised quail, for example) but for the most part the wild game we outdoors folk eat is hunter-harvested. And since wild game and birds literally “eat off the land” you can expect their meat to be relatively free of additives and leaner than the meat and poultry you encounter in the supermarket. Lean is good, low in fat, and despite a sometimes “gamey” taste, better to include in a lighter post-holiday diet, if you're a meat-eater.
Finfish and shellfish can be wild-harvested or farm-raised. I'm no fan of farm-raised seafood, but as the Earth's population explodes we'll begin to see more of these sustainable products, frozen or thawed, in food and specialty markets. But we're lucky, and have the option to catch our own seafood. Like wild game and poultry, the wild seafood we bring home is less likely to have any additives or growth hormones. And while farm-raised seafood may have the same “good” oils and nutrients found in wild-caught species, the taste just isn't the same.
“It ain't the bread that will kill you—it's the butter!” This might be a good motto for those of us who want to lose a few pounds and get healthy following the Holiday season. So, rather than fry—grill or broil. Rather than “lard up” a piece of venison with pork fat or bacon, try brining it before grilling or slow-roasting in a pan of vegetables like carrots, onions and green beans. I offer the same advice for seafood. Try grilling or sautéing seafood on the stovetop with just a few teaspoons of healthy extra-virgin olive oil. And avoid “gloppy” presentations with sauces and dressings (Alfredo sauce, for example) and steer your diet towards the more-healthy, simple Mediterranean preparations. I can't imagine a more tasty meal than grilled shrimp aglio e olio (a simple, light garlic and olive oil sauce) served over a reasonable portion of linguine or fettuccine pasta.
Here's my variation on a fancy, but light and healthy, grilled fish recipe provided by Chef Timineri, by way of the FreshFromFlorida website, www.freshfromflorida.com FS
Tangy Tangerine Mahi
4 (6 ounce) mahi-mahi fillets
Juice of 4 tangerines or mandarin oranges
Zest of one tangerine or mandarin orange
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
For the marinade: In a small bowl, whisk juice, zest, olive oil, wine, herbs and pepper until blended. Then place fish in a shallow, non-reactive dish and cover with marinade. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Coat a hot grill with vegetable oil spray and heat to medium-high.
Grill fish for about 4 minutes per side, or until the center is opaque and the flesh flakes easily with a fork.
Garnish with tangerine slices, herbs, and serve. Serves 4.
First published Florida Sportsman January 2015