Teaching Middle School Students About Nutrition with a Salmon Steak

Preparation of Salmon with Berry Relish And Broiled Salmon – Two Recipes

This lesson is for middle school Family and Consumer Science students; it can be adapted for students in Life Skills classes, after school programs, and summer school activities.

Prior to presenting the lesson, review your knowledge of nutritional information and check that all ingredients and kitchen implements needed are available. Make a poster, or have students make a poster, with the ingredients and utensils listed on one side and the major nutrient content listed on the other side. (Two student volunteers will need to refer to the poster while they assist you in the demonstration.) If this lesson is used for high school students you may not need to do a demonstration first; the demonstration method is useful for middle school students because they have little, if any, experience cooking and watching the instructor’s example will illustrate proper procedures. Students will remember more of the nutrition information and cooking instructions you give if they are not busy trying to cook and listen to you at the same time.

Introduce the activity with a brief summary of some of the major nutrients in salmon and reasons to include fish in the weekly diet.

An example mini-lecture to give the students about nutrition –
Salmon is a good source of protein, contains less fat than some cuts of beef, and is easy to prepare. Fish should be included in the diet about twice per week because fish contain omega-3 fatty acids. Specific guidelines for the amount of omega-3 fatty acids to include in the diet have not been made but they have been shown help protect against heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats – the ‘good’ kind of fat.

Protein is essential in the daily diet because the body does not store protein as it does carbohydrates or fats. If all water is taken out of the body the remaining weight will be seventy-five percent protein!
Protein is in the skin, hair, bone, muscle – every body part or tissue contains protein. Protein is the main part of all enzymes that are involved in biochemical reactions and it is an essential part of oxygen transport in your blood (hemoglobin is made of protein). Our bodies have at least 10,000 different proteins!

Proteins are made from amino acids, 20 of which are labeled ‘essential’. When we eat protein, whether it comes from poultry, fish, meat, or vegetable, our body can break the protein down into the amino acids it is made from and use these amino acids in construction of muscle, skin, new enzymes, or whatever is needed that day. Your cells follow instructions from the DNA about how to put these amino acids together to form the needed proteins. Some proteins are short chains of amino acids while others are so long that they need to be folded into complex shapes.

Baseline values for recommended daily protein consumption have not been made, but the general guideline calls for about 10 grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should eat 75 grams of protein. Shortage of protein in the diets of growing children can lead to stunted growth and weakened immune function among other things. In adults, a shortage of protein in the diet can also hamper the immune function as well as lead to weakening of the heart muscle and respiratory system and a loss of muscle mass. Kwashiorkor is a condition of malnutrition caused by inadequate protein intake, in spite of having enough calories in the diet.

On the other hand, if the diet consists of too much protein for a long period of time a person may suffer from loss of bone mass because protein digestion releases acids into the system and calcium is used as a buffer (to return the body to an optimal pH). If enough calcium is not in the diet the body will take the calcium from bones.

The 20 essential amino acids are available when we eat animal protein such as fish, poultry, and beef. Vegetable proteins do not include all 20 essential amino acids, so if a person follows a vegetarian diet he/she must be careful to eat a variety daily because there are a few amino acids our bodies can’t make.

A 5-ounce salmon steak provides:
32 grams of protein
3 grams of saturated fat (9 grams unsaturated fat)
255 calories (salmon steak alone)
282 IU Vitamin A
17 mg Calcium
10 mg Niacin
658 mg Potassium
18 Amino Acids

Begin the activity by asking for 2 volunteers. You and the 2 students should wash hands while you talk about safe handling of foods while cooking. The demonstration of the cooking procedure should be performed with the help of volunteers because students learn better when they have hands-on experience and their interest is captured more thoroughly when their peers are part of the demonstration.

One student volunteer will organize the utensils and ingredients while a second volunteer preheats the oven and prepares the small plates and forks for student use. As you prepare the salmon during your demonstration, talk about the nutrients as well as giving specific information about what tasks you are performing. For example, when you oil the baking sheet, explain why you need only a thin layer of oil (because you are not frying the salmon, but baking it). You might also discuss the difference between frying and baking in terms of nutrient stability and fat content of the meal.
Remember to give the students constant reminders of proper safety practices.

Salmon with Berry Relish
Baking sheet
Small saucepan
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons (tablespoon and teaspoon)
Stirring spoon
Small plates

Salmon filets
1 cup raspberries, unsweetened (may be fresh or frozen)
1 cup blueberries, unsweetened (may be fresh or frozen)
�½ cup orange juice
1 �½ tablespoon granulated sugar
�½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of hot pepper sauce
�½ teaspoon ground ginger
Black pepper to taste
Cooking or olive oil

�·Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
�·Spread a very light layer of oil on the baking sheet.
�·Put the salmon in a single layer on the baking sheet. Do not overlap.
Ã?·Set the oven’s timer to 20 minutes.
�·Place the salmon in the oven and bake until the salmon flakes, approximately 20 minutes.
�·While the salmon is baking, place the berries, sugar, juice, hot pepper sauce, ginger, and black pepper in the sauce pan and cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently. (If using a gas stove, the flame should be adjusted higher than medium height.)
�·Bring the berry mixture to a boil, and then continue cooking another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
�·Remove the berry mixture from heat.
�·When the salmon is done, use the potholder to remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the oven off.
�·Slice the salmon into several pieces and serve with the warm berry salsa on small plates to the students.

Salmon is also delicious when baked with nothing more than butter, salt and pepper.

Broiled Salmon
Additional ingredients and utensil:
Salt to taste
Lemon juice
Pastry brush
�·Adjust the oven rack so it is about 3 inches from the heating element.
�·Preheat the broiler for a few minutes (8-10 should be enough).
�·Lightly oil the baking sheet.
�·Place about �½ stick of butter in the small saucepan and heat until the butter melts. Remove from heat and set aside.
�·Arrange the salmon steaks in a single layer on the baking sheet.
�·Brush the melted butter on the salmon steaks.
�·Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper to suit your taste.
�·Broil approximately 6 minutes, until the salmon flakes. If the salmon steaks are more than about 1 inch thick, they will require a few more minutes of broiling time. If the salmon steaks are 1 �½ inches thick, you will need to turn them over after 6 minutes and broil an additional 6 minutes.
�·When the salmon is done, use the potholder to remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the oven off.
�·Slice the salmon into several pieces and sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve on small plates to the students.

Nutrition comments to make to the class in closing:

Fish is a great source of protein and has a lower fat content than other animal protein sources such as beef. If you add a vegetable such as corn, a dinner roll, and cottage cheese you will have a meal that includes the protein, fruit/vegetable, grain, and dairy categories of the food pyramid. This is a balanced meal that is fairly easy to prepare.

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