Samantha's Seafood Solutions - Drew Ramsey MD

Heard the buzz about omega-3s? Good for inflammation, brain healthdepression and even increasing IQ points in children… the list is endless. But for those of us who didn’t grow up eating seafood, getting in good quality Omega-3 fatty acids can be a challenge.

I became a vegetarian when I was 5. After hearing about how important Omega-3 fatty acids were for my health and wanting to diversify my protein sources, I decided to try integrating fish a few years ago.

Seafood is one of the Food Categories that we talk a lot about in our work and in the Eat To Beat Depression e-course. Since I also struggled with adding seafood into my diet, I wanted to offer up some of the tips that have helped me and our patients. For those of you new to seafood, scared of seafood (eating it or preparing it), or just plain distrustful of it, this blog is for you!

A quick reminder based in my clinical work. People often get impatient with change. Keep in mind that it takes time to find the right way for you to integrate new foods into your diet. Everyone has different tastes and preferences, and that’s not only ok, it’s awesome. We’d love to hear some of your favorite ways to get in your seafood fix in the comments below.

Eat it raw

I know, I know, it sounds nuts. But surprisingly, a lot of raw fish tastes and smells less fishy than cooked fish. Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, but the taste, the texture, I just couldn’t do it. Until I tried it in sushi. It’s smooth rather than flaky, and it has less of a meaty texture.

If you’d like to try it raw but aren’t ready for sushi, you can also try a ceviche like this one from Eat Complete.

Scallop and Shrimp Ceviche with Pickled Ginger and Radishes

Serves 4

Ceviche makes for a fast, no-cook seafood dish that’s ideal for a fresh summer meal or a first-time recipe for seafood newbies. Shop for tangy pickled ginger in Asian grocery stores or opt for freshly thinly sliced ginger root in its place.  If you don’t have an Asian market nearby, reserved the pickled ginger from your next sushi bar order to use here.

½ pound sea scallops, diced
½ shrimp, cut into 1-inch wide chunks
4 limes, juiced
2 tomatoes, chopped
4 radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup thinly sliced sweet white or red onion
2 tablespoons pickled ginger
1 tablespoon hot sauce, optional
2 avocados, cubed
16 large Romaine leaves (about 2 heads)

Place the scallops, shrimp, lime juice, tomatoes, radishes, red onion, pickled ginger, and hot sauce in a large bowl. Toss well and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 15 to 20 minutes, until the scallops and shrimp are firm to the touch and no longer translucent. Stir in avocado Set out the 16 Romaine leaves and top with 3 heaping tablespoons ceviche, serve immediately.

Not into fish? Try muscles, clams or oysters

Bivalves are a top source of minerals like zinc and iodine, B12, and are a top source of  long-chained omega-3 fatty acids. You can dress them up with sauces, eat them raw or grilled. Mussels and clams are great value in the grocery store. There are hundreds of breeds of oysters. If you are new to eating them raw, ask for small ones. Start by snagging a bite from someone else’s plate, or order a single oyster at a bar and experiment. You may be surprised!

Salad dressing

It’s kinda like hiding zucchini in your children’s bread, except instead of hiding veggies, we’re hiding anchovies. I’m hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like a Caesar salad. It may not be an everyday thing, but the key is to diversify your seafood sources. Give this Caeser dressing a go, and for an extra boost, switch out your romaine for kale.

En papillote

Yes, when you give your seafood a French name, it tastes better. En papillote is a method of baking fish in parchment paper. I like it as it’s a no-fail method to preparing fish. And even better news, baking fish takes under 20 minutes. You can also add a layer of foil and use this technique on the grill. Check out these favorites:

Salmon en Papillote

Grilled Whole Trout in Parchment Paper with Garlic Broccoli

Simple in a saute pan

One of my favorite ways to cook fish is also the simplest. I take a filet, salt both sides, then put some of my favorite spice mix on a plate (curry powder, fleur de provence, smoked paprika with cumin etc) and dip both sides of the fish in the spice mix so they are coated in delicious flavor. I put about 1 tablespoon of coconut or olive oil in a pan and when it’s hot, I put the fish in. I cook it for 2-3 minutes on each side (until it’s no longer translucent) and we’re done! So quick, so easy, so flavorful.

Use it as a topping

Who doesn’t love pizza? Great! Pizza night? Add some clams. Bagels and cream cheese? Let’s add some smoked salmon. Gluten free? Make cucumber rolls with cream cheese and smoked salmon. The world is your oyster (ha). Don’t feel pressure to make seafood the main component of your meal. Enjoy exploring and let us know.

So what’s the recommendation?

Try to eat seafood rich in Omega-3 fatty acids 2-3 times per week. We know there is concern over sustainability, mercury and other toxins, so here’s a handy graph of the types of fish we recommend.



A note on preparing fish:

One reason I find a lot of folks don’t like to cook fish is because 1. It’s expensive 2. It goes bad quickly 3. They don’t know how to cook it.

Buying frozen fish is a great way to save. To defrost, just put in the fridge the night before. This is a great way to move fish from being something you need to plan way in advance (getting to the market the day of “the event”) to something you can whip up quickly if you don’t have much around. Buying your fish frozen also takes some of the pressure off to cook it right away. Canned seafood is also a great way to go when it comes to clams, anchovies, sardines, tuna and salmon.

Want more individualized tips? Schedule an appointment with Samantha here.

 Samantha Elkrief, LMSW is a therapist, holistic health coach and health-supportive chef. She is an action-oriented supportive psychotherapist and has trained in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and incorporates various mind-body practices into her clinical work. She is the clinical coordinator at the Brain Food Clinic and works with individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, work life balance, and unhealthy relationships with food.

Using Food as Medicine, she helps patients find a place of contentment and ease with food. She has expertise in plant-based diets, nutritional support for mental health and frequently works with clients with food sensitivities, allergies, and other medical concerns.

Samantha received her Masters Degree in Social Work from Columbia University and her health coach certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  She trained as a chef at The Natural Gourmet Institute, where she also teaches.

She regularly appears as a guest on podcasts and her work has been featured in the NY Post, MindBodyGreen, Social Work Today, Eat Up New York, and on NBC.


Eat Complete

Winner of a 2017 IACP Cookbook Award  •  Finalist for a Books for a Better Life Award

Named one of the top health and wellness books for 2016 by Well + Good and MindBodyGreen


From leading psychiatrist and author of Fifty Shades of Kale comes a collection of 100 simple, delicious, and affordable recipes to help you get the core nutrients your brain and body need to stay happy and healthy.

What does food have to do with brain health? Everything.

Your brain burns more of the food you eat than any other organ. It determines if you gain or lose weight, if you’re feeling energetic or fatigued, if you’re upbeat or depressed. In this essential guide and cookbook, Drew Ramsey, MD, explores the role the human brain plays in every part of your life, including mood, health, focus, memory, and appetite, and reveals what foods you need to eat to keep your brain—and by extension your body—properly fueled.

Drawing upon cutting-edge scientific research, Dr. Ramsey identifies the twenty-one nutrients most important to brain health and overall well-being—the very nutrients that are often lacking in most people’s diets. Without these nutrients, he emphasizes, our brains and bodies don’t run the way they should.

Eat Complete includes 100 appetizing, easy, gluten-free recipes engineered for optimal nourishment. It also teaches readers how to use food to correct the nutrient deficiencies causing brain drain and poor health for millions. For example:

• Start the day with an Orange Pecan Waffle or a Turmeric Raspberry Almond Smoothie, and the Vitamin E found in the nuts will work to protect vulnerable brain fat (plus the fiber keeps you satisfied until lunch).

• Enjoy Garlic Butter Shrimp over Zucchini Noodles and Mussels with Garlicky Kale Ribbons and Artichokes, and the zinc and magnesium from the seafood will help stimulate the growth of new brain cells.

• Want to slow down your brain’s aging process? Indulge with a cup of Turmeric Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, and the flavanols found in chocolate both increase blood flow to the brain and help fight age-related memory decline.

Featuring fifty stunning, full-color photographs, Eat Complete helps you pinpoint the nutrients missing from your diet and gives you tasty recipes to transform your health—and ultimately your life.


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The Happiness Diet

For the first time in history, too much food is making us sick. It's all too apparent that the Modern American Diet (MAD) is expanding our waistlines; what's less obvious is that it's starving and shrinking our brains. Rates of obesity and depression have recently doubled, and while these epidemics are closely linked, few experts are connecting the dots for the average American.

Using the latest data from the rapidly changing fields of neuroscience and nutrition, The Happiness Dietshows that over the past several generations small, seemingly insignificant changes to our diet have stripped it of nutrients--like magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D, as well as some very special fats--that are essential for happy, well-balanced brains. These shifts also explain the overabundance of mood-destroying foods in the average American's diet and why they predispose most of us to excessive weight gain.

After a clear explanation of how we've all been led so far astray, The Happiness Diet empowers the reader with simple, straightforward solutions. Graham and Ramsey show you how to steer clear of this MAD way of life with foods to swear off, shopping tips, brain-building recipes, and other practical advice, and then remake your diet by doubling down on feel-good foods--even the all-American burger.


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Fifty Shades of Kale

Kale gets sexy in Fifty Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D., and Jennifer Iserloh, with 50 recipes that are mouth-wateringly delicious and do a body good.
Release yourself from the bondage of guilt and start cooking meals with the ingredients you love: meat, cheese, and yes—even butter. Nutrient-rich kale provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy, happy, and lean—so you can indulge in your most delicious desires. Whether you’re a cooking novice or a real kale submissive, you will undoubtedly succumb to Kale’s charms.

From Mushroom and Kale Risotto to Kale Kiwi Gazpacho, Fifty Shade of Kale offers simple ways to have your kale and eat it, too, as well as nutritional information, cooking tips, and a tutorial on kale in all her glorious shades.
Indulge your culinary passions with Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please.


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