Here’s what was served at a recent lunch at chef Sidra Forman’s Mount Vernon Square townhouse:
Grinch-green kale soup, a quinoa salad laced with pomegranate seeds, grilled black bass topped with sorrel (plucked straight from her garden) and sesame coconut cookies.
Each dish provided a taste of what’s inside “The Pescetarian Plan: The Vegetarian + Seafood Way to Lose Weight and Love Your Food” ($26, Ballantine Books; thepescetarianplan.com), a new health and diet book from Forman and registered dietitian Janis Jibrin.
The friends know their way around a recipe — Forman has multiple D.C. restaurant gigs under her apron, and Jibrin is a Dupont Circle-based nutritionist who frequently collaborates with Oprah fitness guru Bob Greene. And the ones in this book are designed to leverage both science and satisfaction.
“The research is convincing that being a pescetarian offers the complete package, a way of eating that’s both slimming and ultra-nutritious,” Jibrin says. “It’s personally the way I eat, and I meet more and more trim and healthy people who are basically pescetarian.” (Forman, a vegan, is on board due to her enthusiasm for plant-based foods.)
The plan basically hews to a Mediterranean diet. It’s heavy on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and spiked with liberal doses of olive oil, red wine and, of course, seafood. Forman meshes healthful ingredients into flavorful combos, such as haddock tacos revved up with jalapenos and lime juice.
“And sometimes you just take a good ingredient, like a nice fish, and get out of the way,” Forman says.
In the book, Jibrin outlines what makes a properly sized portion, and recommends eating a certain number of servings from seven different food groups each day.
Stick with it, and you’ll see more benefits than just the sinking numbers on your scale, she adds. A 2013 Harvard study suggests that people 65 or older who eat fatty fish can extend their lives. Omega-3-rich fishes (salmon, halibut, trout) are thought to cut down on inflammation, lower the risk of heart disease and quash depression.
Should the mercury in fish worry you? “If you pick the right seafood, you’ll have very little exposure to mercury,” Jibrin says. The book boasts handy charts revealing what to reel in (U.S.-farmed Arctic char), go easy on (hook-and-line caught rockfish) and toss back (shark and swordfish).
Plus, reputable fish sellers will advise you on what’s local, sustainably farmed and low in mercury. In D.C., Forman likes Whole Foods, BlackSalt Fish Market and Union Market’s new The District Fishwife.
As for produce, Forman harvests what she can from her yard and shops at an Amish co-op in Pennsylvania; Jibrin loves the Dupont Circle Freshfarm Market. Both are looking forward to the morel mushrooms that should show up soon.
Flounder Baked with Grapes and Almonds
1 pound flounder fillet
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup halved red grapes
1 cup chopped and toasted almonds
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Makes Four Servings
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place fish on a sheet tray and season with 1½ teaspoons of olive oil, ⅛ teaspoon of salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
In a bowl, combine the grapes, almonds, parsley, lemon juice,
1½ teaspoons of olive oil, ⅛ teaspoon of salt and black pepper.
Place the fish in the oven and bake for 3 minutes, then flip the fish, return to the oven until the fish is just beginning to flake but the center is still translucent, approximately 3 minutes. Take care not to overcook.
Remove from oven and serve immediately, topped with grape mixture.
298 calories; 17 g fat (1.7 g saturated); 54 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 27 g protein; 239 mg sodium.