Eating for Life

Throw another fish on the grill

Big hunks of red meat still dominate the grill.

But when you consider the large number of restaurants that offer grilled fish on the menu, it is surprising only 54 percent of us cook some type of seafood when grilling at home, reports the Weber Grillwatch Survey.

That’s too bad because fish on a grate tastes great, and it’s a technique that can help nutrition-conscious cooks keep excess fat and calories at bay.

The Star’s recipe for Herbed Fish With Avocado Sauce lightly brushes fish fillets with a mixture of olive oil and herbs to add subtle flavor. As long as it isn’t battered or fried, fish is a healthy protein choice, and the American Heart Association recommends we eat fish at least twice a week.

To pump up the flavor and add nutrients, the fish is paired with a dollop of avocado. Once assiduously avoided by dieters for their high fat content, avocadoes are on the uptick thanks to a renewed emphasis on “good” fat in the diet. The avocado contains healthy monounsaturated fat — the kind that lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

Avocadoes also contain vitamins A and C and niacin. Some nutrition experts think of the avocado as a superfood rich in phytonutrients including folate, a B vitamin that has been linked to the prevention of neural tube defects in fetuses.

Shopping tip: For optimum flavor, this recipe depends on choosing an avocado that is soft and ripe.

Cooking tip: To avoid flare-ups, be sure to brush the olive oil mixture onto the fish while standing away from the grill.

We tested tilapia and sole on an outdoor grill and an indoor contact grill. These fish fillets are delicate and can be difficult to turn with a spatula. We found that to avoid losing a few pieces through the grate, it’s easiest to place the fillets in a fish grill basket, available at most home stores.

We recommend cooking outdoors for that lovely aroma only fresh air and smoke can lend to food. But if you don’t want to buy a grill basket, you could also use a grill pan on the stove or an oiled broiler pan in the oven.

Pump it up: For more information about grilling fish and seafood, pick up a copy of Fish & Shellfish, Grilled & Smoked (Harvard Common Press) by Kansas City-based authors Karen Adler and Judith Fertig.

Herbed fish with avocado sauce

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Juice of 2 limes, divided

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 fish fillets, about 4 to 6 ounces each, such as tilapia, halibut or sole

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons water

4 to 6 large Boston lettuce leaves, spinach leaves or other lettuce

1 large, ripe tomato, thinly sliced

Combine 1 tablespoon lime juice, thyme leaves, oregano leaves and olive oil; brush mixture over each side of fish.

Preheat coals and allow to burn down to white ash. Lightly oil grill rack. Grill fish about 2 to 4 minutes per side or just until done and fish flakes easily. (Turn fish fillets carefully using a wide, flat turner.)

Meanwhile, place avocado, onion, water and 2 tablespoons lime juice in blender container; blend until smooth.

Arrange lettuce leaves over a large platter. Arrange fish and sliced tomatoes over lettuce. Drizzle fish with lime juice, then dollop with avocado sauce.

Per serving, based on 4: 238 calories (47 percent from fat), 13 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 36 milligrams cholesterol, 7 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 70 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Recipes developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.