Maple syrup and freshly grated ginger are all it takes...

Maple syrup and freshly grated ginger are all it takes to get this tasty, healthful dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes. Credit: Marge Perry

I probably shouldn’t have left the tray of Christmas cookies on the kitchen counter, where I could so easily snag one each time I walked by — and I walked by a lot. I need to get back on track, because eventually I am going to have to change out of my drawstring-waisted sweatpants.

That’s where maple-ginger lacquered salmon comes in. It’s a nutritional powerhouse that tastes like a rich treat, which makes my transition back to healthful meals a whole lot easier.

The USDA says we should all be eating fish and seafood at least twice a week, but few of us actually do. A recipe this simple has you covered for one of those nights. All you have to do is grate some ginger into a sauce pan with maple syrup (and be sure to use the real stuff, not pancake topping). If you like spicy heat, by all means add a pinch of cayenne while the syrup cooks for 2 minutes. Spoon the maple syrup mixture on the salmon a couple of times while it bakes. That’s all there is to it.

To make it a well-balanced, complete, and very fast meal, start some quick cooking brown rice in a saucepan first. Toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a sheet pan in the oven while the salmon bakes. In little more than 15 minutes, dinner is done.

Maple-Ginger Lacquered Salmon

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon grated ginger

Pinch cayenne (optional)

4 6-ounce pieces salmon filet

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil coated with cooking spray.

2. Combine the maple syrup and ginger in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 2 minutes.

3. Place the salmon on the pan and season with salt and pepper. Spoon a little of the maple mixture on each slice, spreading it over the surface with the back of the spoon. Bake 4-5 minutes and spoon more of the mixture on the salmon. Repeat in about 2 minutes, and again another 2 minutes later, using up the remainder of the mixture. Cook until the surface of the salmon is golden and cooked through, about 9 to 12 minutes total cooking time.

Makes 4 servings