Eating more seafood can be a key to a healthful diet. But it also can seem easier said than done. The hurdles? The people you cook for, and with, might not like fish. You might not know how to cook it. The cost can be daunting, and environmental questions can be confusing. Thankfully, each obstacle can be overcome.
• For the fish-phobic: Start with mild, white-fleshed fish, such as tilapia, cod and sole. Avoid oily, darker choices, such as mackerel and bluefish, an acquired taste. Mild fish can take on the flavor of any seasoning, and they absorb marinades in minutes.
• For the novice: Overcooking renders a delicate fillet tough and unappealingly fishy, and it can happen in a flash because fish cooks so quickly -- but that's also one of its best qualities. Your job is to keep an eye on it. Quickly pan-fry thin fillets, browning them on each side until just opaque. Finish larger, thicker pieces in the oven or in a vibrant broth or stew.
• For the budget-minded: Shop wisely, control portion sizes and extend with other ingredients. Mix a handful of shrimp with vegetables, pastas, grains, beans. If a fish is pricey, remember: A pound can yield four servings. Shop for sales, get to know your fishmonger and don't forget cold storage. Mild fish freezes particularly well, so buy when the price is right, with no pressure to cook it right away.
• For the environmentally conscious: Both the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program and the Blue Ocean Institute use color-coded rankings online to help you make smart choices. (The Natural Resources Defense Council, meanwhile, can help you identify fish that are low in mercury.)
Keep those strategies in mind, and you can make the most important change of all: no more excuses.