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Fish is one of those foods that you either love in its entirety, enjoy it when others prepare it, or avoid it because it is, indeed, “fishy”.

Brought up in New Zealand, I personally fell into the latter camp for the first 20 years of my life. I recall being given a whitebait fritter as a child, feeling as if hundreds of eyeballs were peering at me and talking to me (I had a very overactive imagination).

Walking around various fresh food markets and inhaling the distinctive whiff of the ocean didn’t help. Why did I gradually reintroduce this food into my diet? As an undergraduate student studying nutrition, I became aware of the many health benefits of fish. This began with learning about the low rates of coronary heart disease deaths in Greenland Eskimos, prompting further intensive research to reveal the importance of omega-3 unsaturated fats (specifically eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexanoic acid – but don’t worry about committing this mouthful to memory).

These types of fats are essential to our diet, which means they cannot be made within the body. In addition to these heart-health benefits of fat, they also have a role in reducing blood pressure and triglycerides, reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Recent research is also exploring their role in cognition and ageing.

Fish is also a very lean source of protein and contains selenium, zinc, iodine, Vitamins A and D.

Some of you may be wondering if it is easier to take a fish oil supplement, rather than add some fish to your plate. Fish oil supplements are useful if you are unable to meet your dietary recommendations for healthy omega-3 fats, or if there are special circumstances in which you are recommended them. However, receiving nutrients through whole foods rather than pills is superior to isolated nutrients alone. Fish contains a number of nutrients as well as healthy oils, and these may work in combination to provide their multitude of benefits.

The best sources of omega-3’s are your deep sea fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, herrings and blue-eye trevalla. Other sources include barramundi, bream, flathead, squid, scallops and mussels. The Australian Heart Foundation suggests all Australian adults aim to include 2-3 servings of fish, including some oily fish in their diet each week.

Introducing fish to my own diet, I admittedly treated myself much like parents treat fussy children avoiding their vegetables. I would avoid cooking it and just buy it, or purchase the frozen fillets that you can throw in the oven. Eventually, I found enjoyment in the fresh, unbattered fillets that I would wrap in foil and cook with lemon juice, herbs and a little pepper. Delicious. I also began to eat the oiler fish that can tend to have a stronger flavour and smell than white fish. Time to give myself a big Heart Foundation tick.

The beauty of the Miele Steam Oven is that it takes a lot of the hard work away from you. You don’t need to be hovering over a fry pan inhaling that fishy aroma awash with the paranoia of an under or overcooked fish.

If you are entertaining, you can spend the time enjoying your entrée and the company of your guests. As multiple trays can fit in to the oven, your fish can be steamed on one, your vegetables on another and your non-fuss meal can be prepared without your kitchen looking like a kindergarten playdough fight.

The steam method of cooking avoids the additional calories from cooking oil, and allows your fish to be tender, juicy and downright delicious.

Miele have a range of free recipes available to get you started in increasing your culinary skills. View the recipe library here to begin your cooking adventure with Miele’s Steam Ovens.

Toni Franklin is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Provisional Sports Dietitian with a background in clinical and sport nutrition. For more information about how you can use nutrition to improve your health or performance, please contact a member of Sport Dietitians Australia (SDA), Australia’s peak professional body and credible source of sport nutrition information www.sportsdietitians.com.au

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