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(Paleo, AIP, GAPS, Wahls)
“I love the culture of grilling. It creates an atmosphere that is festive but casual.”
~ Bobby Flay
Learning to Love
If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that I used to hate seafood. I grew up on Cape Cod and would choose PB&J's over wildcaught fish for dinner (I kid you not). Things change. Life threw me a curveball in the form of rheumatoid arthritis, I chose the path of dietary healing, and that meant opening myself up to all sorts of foods I had considered off limits in the past (organ meats, anyone?) Some people I highly respect, like Sarah Ballantyne and Terry Wahls, insist that seafood is an important part of a healing diet. Why? Because we're trying to reduce inflammation in our bodies, and seafood is full of anti-inflammatory omega 3's – 2500 mg in just one 3.5 oz. piece of salmon, in fact! Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to autoimmune disease, and salmon provides over 100% of your daily need in that same serving. So, I've been opening my mind and mouth, and developing recipes that have slowly transformed my tastebuds. Now, I much prefer seafood to PB&J's!
Strawberries on Salmon?
On the paleo autoimmune protocol, traditional nightshade-laden salsa is off limits. But that doesn't mean flavor is off limits. With a little creativity, you can make a fruit salsa that's delicious and even has a kick, thanks to some diced red onion and fresh grated ginger. All of those foods are medicinal as well. Strawberries are full of antioxidants (ranked 3rd among all foods), and onions and fresh ginger are anti-inflammatories themselves. Healing food never tasted so good.
I grew up by the ocean, and I care about its health as well as my own. For that reason, whenever you see a seafood recipe on this blog, you'll also see a sustainability note. When it comes to salmon, the vast majority sold in grocery stores is farmed. The fish are crowded together, prone to disease and parasites, and treated with antibiotics and pesticides. Escaped fish infect wild populations, and pollution from the farms is released directly into the ocean. Although there are a few farms trying to improve their practices, they still use antibiotics (just in smaller quantity) as well as GMO feed. When buying salmon, choose Wild Alaskan or Wild Pacific salmon. (Atlantic salmon is code for farmed salmon.) One source of quality wildcaught salmon is Vital Choice, and they offer a 10% discount to first time customers. Just enter the code VCAFINT at checkout. To learn more about seafood and sustainability, read my article: Does Healthy Sustainable Seafood Exist?
The Aluminum Question
I've avoided cooking with aluminum foil, due to a vague knowledge that it's not good for me. However, cooking salmon on the grill often results in dried out fish and a messy grill. The foil packet technique is a foolproof cooking method with great flavor and no cleanup. That appealed to me, so I did further research. Aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth and is present in all soil, food and water; 95% of our aluminum intake comes from food itself, not the cooking method. The Healthy Home Economist is one of the most health-oriented websites on the internet, and she gives her seal of approval to aluminum foil. Her only warning is to be careful not to scratch it, because that's when aluminum can be released. Thankfully, our bodies absorb less than 1% of all of the aluminum we consume on a daily basis. If we want to protect ourselves from aluminum toxicity, avoiding aluminum foil won't make much difference. The best thing to do is support our body's natural detox pathways, by eating lots of sulfur-rich vegetables, and incorporating gentle detoxifying practices into our routine. If you are still concerned, you can add a layer of unbleached parchment paper between the salmon and the foil. But don't try to grill on parchment paper alone; it will catch on fire!
1½ cups diced strawberries
¼ cup diced red onion
1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger (I like this ginger grater)
Juice from ½ orange
Juice from ½ lemon
- Make the salsa first: combine strawberries, red onion, grated ginger, orange juice and lemon juice in a bowl. Stir to blend and let flavors combine as the grill preheats.
- Preheat gas grill on high for 10 minutes.
- Place each piece of salmon, skin-side down, on a piece of tin foil large enough to enclose it in a packet. Sprinkle salmon generously with sea salt and lay lemon slices on top. Wrap it loosely in the foil and then pinch the edges of the foil closed.
- Turn grill heat down to medium. Close grill cover, and cook 15 minutes. They’re done when the flesh flakes easily with a fork.
- Open salmon packets carefully to let the steam escape, and discard the lemon slices. The salmon skin will stick to the foil, so gently insert a spatula between the salmon and its skin, and transfer to plates.
- Serve topped with strawberry salsa.
Note: This salsa is versatile. Enjoy it over other meat or fish. I've also made this recipe with a side of cauliflower rice, and the salsa tasted delicious on top of the cauli-rice, too.
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