So, I just got my formal invitation to compete in the Regional round of the Aetna Healthy Food Fight. Thank you to all of those who supported me. I know I swore off cooking contests with a voting element. I know it’s obnoxious. And I know they are more about how networked a competitor is, rather than how delicious their dish is… But since I had competed in this one last year (when it didn’t have a voting element), and since I had such a blast, I had to do it. Thanks for tolerating me through it, and thanks for voting.
The Regional round will be held at the State Fair of Texas, in Dallas, the weekend of October 15th and 16th. That’s right—the Aetna Healthy Food Fight will be taking place smack dab in the middle of the Fried Food Capitol of The World. The same venue that brought us Fried Coca Cola, Fried Twinkies, and Fried Butter. The irony is so thick I could cut it like a piece of Chicken Fried Bacon. And dip it in cream gravy.
I am guessing this is by design, rather than happenstance. Maybe by attacking the Fried Food Monster head on, Aetna and Bobby Flay hope to show the unhealthy huddled masses that food can be both healthy and yummy. I am sure it is also no small coincidence that many of the competitors, myself included, struggle with weight or other diet related issues. Many of us would love to dive headfirst into a platter of Deep Fried Whatever, but are learning to make wiser choices, and to make food that we still love, but that also loves us back.
On October 15th, I will walk past the Deep Fried Delicacies, the delightful tidbits of fat and sugar, the crystal meth of the food world, and I will go straight to my cooking station and prepare the very delicious, and very healthy Pecan Crusted Tilapia With Margarita Reduction and Strawberry Peach Salsa. Try it, friends. You will love it!
Pecan Crusted Tilapia With Margarita Reduction and Strawberry Peach Salsa
In order to maintain healthier eating habits, the food has to look appealing and taste great. This dish packs a ton of flavor and visual appeal. Texas has some regional produce favorites that I wanted to showcase in this dish…Hill Country peaches and pecans, valley oranges, and Poteet strawberries, and all prepared with some traditional Texas flavors–jalapenos and tequila!
- 1 lb Tilapia (Fish) 0.5 cup, chopped Pecan Nuts
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 4 servings Lemon Pepper – Lawry’s
- 4 servings Jalapeno Pepper Sauce – Louisiana Supreme
- 2 jiggers Tequila
- 1 Juice of
- 1 lime (2″ dia) Fresh Lime Juice
- 2 Juice of
- 1 orange (2-5/8″ dia) Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
- 2 large (2-3/4″ dia) (approx 2-1/2 per lb) Peach
- 6 large (1-3/8″ dia) Strawberries
- 1 small Red Onion
- 1 cup Cilantro
- 1 lime yields Lime Juice
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 large fresh jalapeno, minced
- For Margarita Sauce: Place tequila, orange juice, lime juice and zest in small saucepan and simmer on medium until reduced to ¼ cup, about 25 minutes.
- For salsa: Finely chop strawberries, peaches, onion, cilantro and jalapeno. Mix with juice of one lime and 1/2 t salt and set aside while preparing fish.
- For Fish: Put olive oil in skillet and swirl to cover. Rub filets with jalapeno sauce. Sprinkle with lemon pepper. Divide pecans among the fish filets and coat both sides, pressing into the flesh. Place filets in skillet over medium heat and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through and flaky. Drizzle with tequila sauce and serve with salsa.