Madeline Basler is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Real You Nutrition, an integrative nutrition therapy and consulting practice. She lives in Seaford with her husband and youngest daughter.
What came first, your interest in cooking or your interest in nutrition?
Probably cooking. I started at a really young age with my mom and grandma. We had a grapevine, an apple tree, a pear tree in our yard. We were always making jelly and pies. I had an Easy-Bake oven. But I've also been interested in nutrition for a long time. When I gained weight as a child, I started watching what I ate and started to exercise.
I won a scholarship to culinary school. But the scholarship was too small, so I passed on it. I worked and got married. Then I went back to school about six years ago to get a degree in restaurant management. But I soon realized I wanted to do something with nutrition. Now I'm almost finished with my masters in nutrition at Stony Brook.
What are your nutritional goals when planning a meal?
Keep it low fat, keep it low salt, and keep it healthy. My husband had a heart attack about four years ago and I'm always cognizant of that. The closer that you eat to the ground the healthier. That's what I tell my patients and I try to live by that.
What are your best tricks for adding flavor to healthy meals?
I occasionally use salt-free McCormick Perfect Pinch seasoning mixes, instead of adding a lot of salt. I use garlic, of course. Herbs from my garden. Onions. Sometimes I mix honey with pepper and put it over tomatoes to roast.
What are some of the nutritional benefits of salmon?
We need an important group of fatty acids called the essential fatty acids, or EFAs. They are necessary for normal growth and development, but our bodies can't make them, so we need to get them from food. There are two groups of EFAs called the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega- 3 fatty acids have been linked to many significant health benefits, such as increased brain function and decreased risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Salmon is one of the richest sources of Omega 3s.
Why do you like this recipe?
A lot of people take fish and fry it in oil. But you don't have to do that with salmon. Just spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray. The mustard is great because it's a nonfat way to get the herbs and nuts to stick to the fish. You can use any nuts you want. Pistachios, walnuts. The nuts are another good source of omega 3. You can use whatever herbs you like, too. Or add lemon zest.
ALMOND-CRUSTED BAKED SALMON
Basler serves this fish with wild rice or another grain and vegetables on the side. It's great, she says, with roasted asparagus.
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (dill, lemon thyme, chives, parsley)
4 thick salmon filets, about 6 ounces each
Ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped almonds
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Mix the mustard, zest and herbs together on a plate.
3. Sprinkle the salmon with pepper, dip both sides in the herbs, and then roll in the almonds.
4. Place fish in prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings.