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Pantry proteins from the sea


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions in almost every aspect of our lives, including how we receive our food supply. Because of the large-scale closing of restaurants, farmers and ranchers have an over-abundance of meats, dairy and vegetables, but few customers left to buy their goods in large enough quantities.

This unexpected glitch in the food supply chain has caused concerns about the availability and pricing of certain meats and produce over the next few months. Because I believe in being prepared, my pantry is well-stocked with a variety of canned and packaged goods, including pantry proteins like canned seafood.

While I’m accustomed to using canned vegetables and fruits, canned proteins have never been my first choice … until now. I’ve learned that canned seafood can be a nutritious, delicious and relatively inexpensive source of protein.

 Here are a few of the health benefits of canned salmon, tuna, smoked mackerel, sardines and clams:

Canned Salmon: Not only is this fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it’s actually better for you when canned because it’s packed with the bones intact, meaning more calcium for your bones and teeth. Also, some of the fat is removed, making it a healthier option.

Canned Tuna: This pantry staple is high in protein and low in fat, with 42 grams of complete protein with all of the essential amino acids, heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, B-vitamins, selenium and choline. Tuna contains folate, iron and B-12, which help to prevent anemia. It’s also free of carbohydrates and provides beneficial nutrients for diabetes management.

Balancing our intake of omega-6 fatty acids with more omega- 3 fatty acids ( from seafood like tuna) can help slow the progression of dementia. The omega-3 fatty acids in tuna compete with pro-inflammatory omega-6s to block inflammation at the cellular level, lowering the risk of vascular cognitive impairment and dementia. The combination of fatty acids and protein in tuna can also be helpful for staying strong as we age.

Canned Mackerel: Canned plain or smoked mackerel is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and is very inexpensive.

Canned Sardines: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, sardines are an excellent choice of fish because they are sustainable and inexpensive. They contain high amounts of vitamin B-12 (second only to calf liver), which promotes heart health.

Canned Clams: Clams are high in protein and zinc — critical for the well-being of your immune system — and rich in iron (containing far greater quantities than found in red meat) and selenium. Clams also are high in omega-3 fatty acids and are a good source of phosphorous, manganese and potassium.

If you’d like to use canned seafood in a new way, try this recipe for Fancy Fish Toast. It’s basically thick slices of toasted bread topped with an array of delicious ingredients with flavors that blend beautifully with any of the varieties of canned seafood listed above. If you’re feeling extra fancy, try this recipe using smoked baby clams or oysters!


4 large eggs

Juice from 1 lemon

12 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half

1 green onion, roots removed and discarded, white and green parts chopped

1/4 teaspoon sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided

2 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 small garlic clove, finely minced or grated

1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon paprika

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

4 thick slices sourdough bread or country white bread

2 (6-7 ounce) cans or jars oil-packed tuna, drained

1/2 cup torn mixed tender herbs or baby lettuce greens

1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Gently lower eggs into pot with a slotted spoon and cook 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Peel eggs; set aside.

2. Using a medium-sized bowl, mix the lemon juice, tomatoes, green onions, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper together.

3. Stir together the mayonnaise, garlic, vinegar and paprika in a small bowl; season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. Add 2 slices of bread and cook, adjusting heat as needed, until bottoms are deeply browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle fried side with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Repeat with another 2 tablespoons oil and remaining slices of bread.

5. Spread mayonnaise mixture over toasted side of bread. Top with tuna and tomato mixture; spoon some of the juices over the mixture. Scatter herbs or lettuce greens over toast; drizzle with oil. Slice each egg into 3 or 4 pieces and arrange on top. Season with remaining salt/pepper. Serves 4.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her website is www.divapro.com.

©2020 King Features Synd., and Angela Shelf Medearis


Twist, shape, & bake healthy bread bears


Baking bread is just plain fun when your preschoolers shape prepared dough into adorable bear shapes. Toss in simple math along the way too, as your pint-size bakers divide the dough into halves, fourths and even sixths to form the bear’s arms, legs and snout. They’ll watch the dough rise before their eyes, and they’ll love “painting” the bears with an egg wash before you pop them in the oven.

Serve them warm, drizzled with some honey from a little pot for a memorable afternoon treat.

Here are the simple ingredients you’ll need for two 8-inch-tall bears:

— One loaf of prepared frozen bread dough, such as Rhodes brand (available in the frozen food section of grocery stores)

— 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

— Raisins

— Honey (optional)

Here’s the fun:

1.Thaw the loaf of frozen bread dough for two 8-inch-tall bears. Use it while it is still cold.

2. Cut the loaf in half. Set one of the halves aside for a few minutes while you form the first bear.

3. Cut the dough into two even pieces and let your child roll one of the pieces into a ball with his hands. Set it on a large, greased cookie sheet for the body. Press it down to flatten slightly.

4. Cut the other piece in half. Roll one of the halves into a ball for the head and place it above the body. You may need to pinch the two parts together.

5. Pick off a small bit from the remaining piece for the snout. Cut the rest into six even pieces. Roll all seven small pieces into balls. Place a ball on the face for the snout, two ears at the top of the head, 2 arms at the sides of the body, and 2 legs to the bottom of the body.

6. Make tiny slits in the dough and insert raisins for eyes and for a belly button. Repeat steps for second bear.

7. Let them rise, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap, for about 45 minutes in a warm place until doubled in size.

8. Remove covering and brush some egg mixture on top of the bears. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack.

TIP: Make several bears, and dress them up with thin ribbons tied around their necks. Set in a basket as treats at a teddy bear party.


Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit www.donnasday.com and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”

©2020 Donna Erickson Distributed by King Features Synd.

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