(Family Features) - Does lightening up dishes for Lent mean you have to sacrifice big flavor? Not at all, according to culinary expert Lena Cutler, who says that with today's new shelf-stable seafood options, Americans have more flavorful and convenient seafood to use in Lenten dishes than ever before.
"For a variety of options, people looking to replace red meat need not look further than the canned and pouched seafood aisle," said Cutler. "Shelf-stable seafood has expanded from traditional canned tuna to include an array of seafood from shrimp to smoked salmon."
"And new seafood pouches provide additional convenience," she added.
These new seafood options are a great opportunity for people to experiment with their Lenten menu repertoire, said Cutler.
"Be creative. Don't get in a menu rut by making the same dishes throughout the season. Instead, think of ways you can incorporate seafood into dishes that traditionally include meat," she added. "Albacore tuna is perfect for this because of its firm texture and large, filet-like pieces."
From albacore tuna burgers to tuna enchiladas, pastas and more, the possibilities are endless. In addition, salmon or shellfish can easily be added to everyday salads, pizzas and more for a new twist on family favorites.
Sharon McNerney, a registered dietitian, couldn't agree more with Cutler that seafood is a great substitute for red meat - but for another reason.
"Seafood is much lower in fat and calories," says McNerney. "It's also a great way to maintain proper protein intake when not consuming meat. Some seafood, such as albacore tuna and salmon, are also a good source of omega-3."
Research has shown omega-3 to prevent or alleviate everything from arthritis and asthma to acne and depression. Among all the research, one thing remains undisputed - omega- 3 is great for the heart.
"Maintain the health benefits of seafood by eating it straight out of the can or pouch," said McNerney, who recommends trying smoked Pacific salmon. "Its full, rich flavor makes it ideal to eat right out of the pouch," said McNerney.
Chicken of the Sea recently introduced a complete line of pouched shellfish, including shrimp, clams, oysters, crab and imitation crab, adding to the seafood company's growing list of pouched offerings that also include tuna and salmon in a foil pouch. In addition, the seafood company is the first national brand to offer smoked Pacific salmon.
For additional recipes, ideas and information visit www.chickenofthesea.com.