Steam into Spring


When you are tired of the heavy cooking of the cold months but it is too early for the outdoor grilling of summer, steaming is a good cooking transition as winter turns to spring.

Steaming is a traditional Chinese cooking technique that uses gentle heat instead of oil to cook foods. So it is a good way to make low-fat, low-calorie entrées.

Steaming keeps vegetables crunchy and brightly colored, and helps avoid overcooking fish. It also protects water-soluble nutrients that would otherwise be lost during boiling.

All you need to steam fish is a deep saucepan, Dutch oven, pressure cooker, roasting pan, or wok. The pot should be wide enough to hold a heat-proof plate on which all the ingredients can be placed in a single layer, and deep enough so that the plate is elevated at least an inch above enough water to simmer until the food is cooked.

Both AICR and other health experts recommend fish as the best animal protein alternative to red meat. It is an important source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are so important to our health.

Numerous studies suggest that a predominantly plant-based diet is linked to long-term health. The phytochemicals, minerals and vitamins in plant foods seem to bolster the body’s defenses against cancer, heart disease and stroke.

And to go with your steamed fish, why not steam a variety of colorful – and healthful – vegetables?

AICR recommends gradually making the transition to a plate that contains 2/3 (or more) vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans to one-third (or less) animal protein.

A spring dinner of steamed fish with yogurt dill sauce is a good place to start.

Steamed Fish with Yogurt Dill Sauce – Makes 4 servings.

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, divided
1 1/2 lb. firm-fleshed fish fillet, (e.g.halibut, cod, or salmon) cut in 4 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup low-fat, plain yogurt
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 orange or yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 scallion, finely chopped (green part included)
1 large lemon, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 sprigs fresh dill for garnish (optional)

In a small bowl, mix together oil, chives, basil and half the dill. Rub mixture into both sides of fish, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Mix remaining dill with yogurt and set sauce aside.

In a deep-rimmed serving dish large enough to hold the fish and broth, arrange bell peppers and scallions evenly along bottom. Place fish on top. Arrange lemon slices on top of fish. Add broth. Place in microwave and cook at medium power, checking every few minutes, until fish flakes with a fork.

Remove from microwave and garnish with remaining dill. Serve with yogurt-dill sauce.

Per serving: 293 calories, 11 g. total fat (2 g. saturated fat), 9 g. carbohydrate, 38 g. protein, 2 g. dietary fiber, 176 mg. sodium

The Author:

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association which operates as the umbrella organization for the network .The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (; Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (; World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (; and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (

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Article Posted: April 3, 2006


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