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Almond Tilapia

By Marni Sumbal

There's a little something for everyone in this meal. For the vegetarian, the red beans complement the couscous very nicely. For the fitness enthusiast/athlete, you have a great source of protein with two very healthy sides. For the individual seeking weight loss/maintenance, you should feel satisfied with every bite of this meal. 

Nutrition facts for Tilapia: 
3 oz serving 
Calories- 82 
Total Fat - 1.45g 
Total Carbohydrate - 0g 
Protein - 17.08 

According to an article on Mayoclinic.com, titled "Catfish and Tilapia: Healthy or harmful" (by Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.), Tilapia is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Furthermore, eating 3 ounces of fish, twice a week, can be beneficial for reducing blood pressure, risk for cancer and inflammation.

There is a lot of controversy regarding the ratio of long-chain omega 6 fatty acids (134 mg in Tilapia) to long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Considering that Tilapia is one of the more inexpensive options in the fish aisle, it may be likely that you are eating mostly Tiliapia in your diet, rather than a more expensive fish (such as Salmon) and thus consuming a high number of omega-6 fatty acids. When it comes to choosing burgers and french fries over fish, because you are worried about high number of omega 6 fatty acids found in "cheap" fish, I still suggest the fish option, which is much better for your heart and your waistline! But as you would do for all meals, be sure you are planning heart healthy food on a daily basis and eating a variety of healthy foods to meet your specific diet recommendations to support your lifestyle and dietary choices. 

Almond Tilapia 
3 oz Tilapia 
Seasonings (about a tsp or two of each): Italian seasoning, pepper and paprika. 
1/2 tbsp. olive oil - or just enough to lightly coat each side of fish 
1 clove chopped garlic 
3 squirts balsamic vinaigrette spray (or 1/2 tbsp balsamic dressing) 
5-8 almonds (chopped) 

1) Preheat oven to 350-degrees. 
2) Lay a sheet of tinfoil in a baking dish. 
3) Place Tilapia on foil and coat with olive oil, followed by seasonings, on both sides of fish. 
4) Rub garlic and almonds on the top of Tilapia. 
5) Cook for 8-10 minutes. 
6) Fold edges of foil to wrap Tilapia (to keep warm) until ready to eat. 
*Another option to this dish is to use walnuts rather than almonds. Walnuts are rich in omega 3's, however both Almonds and Walnuts contain Omega-6 fats (10g and 28g for 100 gram serving, respectively). 

Sweet Sunflower Seed Couscous 
1 cup couscous 
1/4 cup sunflower seeds 
1 1/4 cup water 
2 tsp cinnamon 

1) Heat water on high in pot. 
2) When water is boiling, turn off heat, remove pot from burner and add couscous. 
3) Fluff with fork as you add seeds and cinnamon. 
4) Cover with lid to pot and let the couscous stand for 5 minutes. Fluff again with fork before serving. 

Red Beans 
1 can red beans (rinsed and drained) 
2 cloves garlic (chopped) 
Dash of pepper and cayenne pepper 
2 tsp olive oil 

1) In a cooking pot, heat garlic on medium heat, in 2 tsp olive oil. 
2) Add beans, stir lightly and cook for 10-15 minutes until beans are soft and a little cracked. Stir occasionally. 

Marni Sumbal holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and is certified in Adult Weight Management by the American Dietetic Association. Marni is a Level 1 USAT coach and is currently pursuing a registered dietician degree. She is a Hammer sponsored athlete, 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship finisher and just finished her third IM, the Ford Ironman Louisville Triathlon on August 30, 2009, with PR of 10 hours and 54 minutes. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing. She has several published articles in Hammer Endurance News, Cosmo Girl and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to IronGirl.com and Beginnertriathlete.com. You can check out her blog at http://trimarni.blogspot.com.

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