Eat this fish, save the planet

With all the positive health information out there about fish, I'm always trying to eat more fish. But sometimes I get caught up in the fact that, worldwide, we're already consuming seafood at a rate that is not sustainable. Wild fisheries are overexploited and, some say, fish farmed in traditional open pens can pollute surrounding water.

What's an environmentally conscious girl to do? In terms of sustainability, you can't beat tilapia from a tank, says Michael B. Timmons, Ph.D., of Cornell University and author of Recirculating Aquaculture.

Tilapia are low on the food chain and easy to cultivate. Today nearly all tilapia farmed in the U.S. are raised in highlyefficient, self-contained aquariums that purify and recycle water. One catch: not all tilapia farmed worldwide are cultured in recirculating systems. So try to buy tilapia grown stateside. Likely, its source won't be identified. Ask at the fish counter.

You can sustainbaly savor what's left of summer and serve one of EatingWell's fresh tilapia recipes for dinner tonight. Try:

Tilapia & Summer Vegetable PacketsTilapia & Summer Vegetable PacketsTilapia & Summer Vegetable Packets: Wrapping vegetables and fish in a foil packet for grilling or baking is a foolproof way to get moist, tender results. Tilapia and summer vegetables pair with olives and capers for a Mediterranean flair.

1 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
1 cup diced summer squash
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
12 green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup pitted and coarsely chopped black olives
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into 4 equal portions

1. Preheat grill to medium. (No grill? See Oven Variation, below.)
2. Combine tomatoes, squash, onion, green beans, olives, lemon juice, oregano, oil, capers, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
3. To make a packet, lay two 20-inch sheets of foil on top of each other (the double layers will help protect the contents from burning); generously coat the top piece with cooking spray. Place one portion of tilapia in the center of the foil. Sprinkle with some of the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, then top with about 3/4 cup of the vegetable mixture.
4. Bring the short ends of the foil together, leaving enough room in the packet for steam to gather and cook the food. Fold the foil over and pinch to seal. Pinch seams together along the sides. Make sure all the seams are tightly sealed to keep steam from escaping. Repeat with more foil, cooking spray and the remaining fish, salt, pepper and vegetables.
5. Grill the packets until the fish is cooked through and the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. To serve, carefully open both ends of the packets and allow the steam to escape. Use a spatula to slide the contents onto plates.

Oven Variation: Preheat oven to 425°F. Place green beans in a microwavable bowl with 1 tablespoon water. Cover and microwave on High until the beans are just beginning to cook, about 30 seconds. Drain and add to the other vegetables (Step 2). Assemble packets (Steps 3-4). Bake the packets directly on an oven rack until the tilapia is cooked through and the vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 181 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 4 g mono); 57 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 24 g protein; 2 g fiber; 435 mg sodium; 591 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Selenium (68% daily value), Vitamin C (30% dv), Potassium (17% dv). 1/2 Carbohydrate Servings.

Beer-Battered Tilapia with Mango Salsa: Get the taste of fried fish in this recipes without all the calories. Seasoned whole-wheat flour improves the usual fish-and-chips batter. A good pilsner or lager makes this dish taste best-and since you only need 1/2 cup, there's some left over for the cook to enjoy.

Mock Ceviche: Traditionally, ceviche is raw fish that's "cooked" by marinating it in acidic citrus juice. Here we quickly poach the tilapia then marinate it with fresh herbs, lime juice and crunchy vegetables for an easy summer dinner.

Tilapia Corn Chowder: This light soup is a great way to slip fresh corn (and tilapia, of course!) into your late-summer menu. Enjoy it with a mixed green salad and oyster crackers.

By Nicci Micco

Nicci Micco is senior editor of features and nutrition at EatingWell. She has a master's degree in nutrition and food sciences, with a focus in weight management. She's addicted to ice cream and pizza. But she also can't imagine going a week without eating sweet potatoes, salad greens or kidney beans. Kale and beets also rank at the top of her favorite-foods list.

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