The Newfoundland Cod Fishery attracted local and international fishing fleets for almost five centuries before being shut down by the Canadian Government in July 1992 due to depleted cod stocks and fear of extinction. For the past 22 years, strict guidelines have been in place and numerous studies have been done tracking the revival of the cod stock and to this day, a population born of fisher people, anxiously awaits the opening of the Provincial Recreational Cod Fishery, which opens for 3 weeks during the summer, usually late July, and 3 weeks in the early fall. The cod quota is 5 cod per day per person to a maximum of 15 cod per boat, per day.
As such, fresh cod is quite the commodity around here. There's nothing quite like fresh cod, caught in the cold Atlantic waters in the morning, and prepared for dinner that same evening. While seafood can be found just about anywhere in this world you go, nothing can quite equal seafood that comes from the icy cold northern Atlantic waters. Perhaps its the fridgidly cold water but whatever it is, it's cherished.
Fish and Chip restaurants are plentiful in Newfoundland Labrador and everyone has their favorite. But for the most part, while there are slight variations on batter and seasoning, its all deep fried and anything deep fried, while ok as a treat now and then, isn't apart of my family's normal diet. Last week, my husband, daughters, my oldest daughter's boyfriend, Matt, and my parents all made the 30 minute trek to what use to be our favorite Fish and Chip joint. We were so disappointed we could almost cry! On the way home, my husband said I should see what I could do to make a healthier version of this cultural favorite. But how can you make deep fried fish and chips healthier? Deep fried is deep fried after all, right?
Wrong! Sure, if I deep fried the cod in all purpose vegetable, corn or other oil, I wouldn't be doing much to keep it healthy. But I decided on using coconut oil, which is classifed as a superfood for many reasons.
One, it improves brain function. In a 2006 study, consumption of coconut oil, and in particular it's medium chain triglycerides, led to immediate improvement in brain function in patients with milder forms of Alzheimer's. In fact, due to that and subsequent studies, the Alzheimer's Society of America is doing intensive studies that support these findings for the management of Alzheimer's.
Two, studies have shown that supplementing just 1 ounce of coconut oil into a regular daily diet of abdominally obese men and women, led to significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference in as little as 4 weeks! What is even more interesting, the people who took part in this study did not add any exercise or restrict calories during the study - they simply added coconut to their diet.
Three, coconut oil reduces important risk factors in heart disease, such as Total Cholesterol and the LDL:HDL (Bad cholesterol to good cholesterol) ratio. A person can have an overall acceptable total cholesterol, but if the bad to good cholesterol ratio is not good, they are at risk for heart disease. The increase in HDL and overall lowering of Total Cholesterol was particularly notable for women over men, but both men and women showed marked improvement in this area when coconut oil was a part of their regular diet.
An interesting factoid to support this claim is the Tokelauans, an South Pacific population, consume over 60% of their calories from coconuts and are reporedly the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world. However, these people are in excellent health with no evidence of heart disease! The Kitivans are another example of this.
Furthermore, the fatty acids and breakdown products in coconut oil can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, fungi and yeast, thereby helping to prevent infection. The fats in coconut oil can also increase the blood concentration of ketone bodies, which can help reduce seizures in epileptic children.
There is so much to say about coconut oil: it speeds up metabolism, boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation, prevents infection, improves the absorption of calcium and magnesium thereby supporting the development of strong bones and teeth, improves digestion and bowel function, supports thyroid function, and, if all that weren`t enough, it also prevents wrinkles and sagging of the skin. (I also saw several postings by young moms claiming that coconut oil can clear up diaper rash within 24 hours).
You can cook with coconut oil, use it in baking, add it to smoothies, yogurt, soups and hot drinks. (Just make sure to melt the coconut oil before adding it to anything cold so it doesn`t clump),
Dinner tonight took very little time to put together. First I washed and scrubbed the potatoes, and then cut them, peels on, into french fries size, placed them in my T-Fal Actifry, which is an absolutely wonderful machine that makes crispy french fries using only 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, set the timer to 40 minutes and on to my coleslaw. The only time consuming part of making the coleslaw was grating the cabbage and carrot, and the dressing was whipped up in a minute. Then I made my homemade Greek yogurt tartar sauce, which was so thick and creamy, I don't think we'll ever look at another tartar sauce again! I put both the tartar sauce and coleslaw in the refrigerator until we were ready to eat, so they stayed nice and chilled and wouldn't get tainted in the hot temperature of the day.
The fish couldn't have been easier either: I seasoned some coconut flour with a little salt and pepper, whisked up a couple of eggs, and had a pie plate with Panko (Japanese bread crumbs). Dredge the fish in the flour, dip in the egg, roll in the panko, place on a plate until I was ready to cook it. Coconut oil has a low smoke level so I warm it up over medium high heat and when a smidge of flour bubbles when it hits the oil, I know its ready.
You might think that the fish would taste like coconut, but it didn't. I invited two fish and chip officianados to supper, that being my mom and dad, and together with my husband and daughter, I anxiously ate my supper, waiting for their opinion. Everyone gave it the thumbs up, and my 11 year old even asked for seconds! Success was mine!
Complete recipe details for Coconut Oil Cod Fillets, Homemade Greek Yogurt Tartar Sauce and Red Cabbage Coleslaw can be found under 'Seafood', 'Everything Else' and 'Soups, Sides and Salads' in my recipe section.
I truly hope you give this healthied-up version of Fish and Chips a try - your body will thank you for it!