HEALTH MATTERS: The dish on fish

Fish is an excellent source of Vitamin D, and Floridians have the added benefit of living in the Sunshine State.

Dietitian Haylee Shelton offers nutrition counseling at her private practice, Hope•full Nutrition.
Dietitian Haylee Shelton offers nutrition counseling at her private practice, Hope•full Nutrition.
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On her Instagram page, Haylee Shelton shares photos of food, recipes and motivational phrases — all while promoting herself as an “anti-diet” dietitian dedicated to helping people form a positive relationship with food.

The Winter Garden resident is a licensed dietitian and registered dietitian nutritionist and wants to share the knowledge she has gained in her career.

Her business, Hope•Full Nutrition, was founded upon the belief there is room for all foods in a healthy diet.

“Hope•Full Nutrition is here to give hope that your goals can be met in a practical and obtainable way,” she said on her website. “My mission is to help equip you with the needed tools, knowledge and habits to live a full life. If you’re feeling hopeless, defeated, lost or confused in the world of nutrition, Hope•Full Nutrition was made just for you.”

Protein is important for a healthy diet. One food group that is high in protein is fish.

“It depends on the specific type of fish, but, in a general sense, there’s an abundant amount of protein in there, and it’s going to be the leaner protein,” Shelton said. “And there’s a substantial amount of fat, but it’s the healthy kind of fat.”

This fatty acid, called omega-3, promotes cardiovascular and brain health, and it has a positive effect on skin, hair and nails, Shelton said. It can lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

“Another benefit I feel is not talked about enough is Vitamin D, and that’s really important because it’s only found in a handful of foods. Luckily, living in Florida, we get plenty of it from the sun. … It’s good for bone health and the immune system, which is a very hot topic right now.”

Living in Florida also affords residents easy access to fresh fish instead of meat that’s been packaged, frozen and shipped across the country, she said.

Although she is a Floridian, Shelton said she isn’t a fan of basic fish recipes.

“My philosophy in all things food related is go what works for you,” she said. “If the only way you can eat fish is to dump a bunch of seasoning on it or dip it in sauces, then go for it. Although I’m a dietitian, I have to have that stuff on it, too, for it to be appetizing.”



Shelton, now 27, said she became interested in health and nutrition and started exercising in high school but realized it was turning into an unhealthy obsession. As a teenager, she started seeing a nutritionist and fell in love with a healthy way of eating and living — and this led to her studying nutrition in college.

“Heart issues run in my family — a lot of people on my dad’s side of my family have heart issues — so that inspired me to become interested in nutrition, as well,” she said.

“I try to preach all things in moderation,” she said. “I’m not the kind of dietitian who is going to slap a doughnut out of your hand; I’m probably going to eat one with you. Everyone always says, ‘It’s all about balance, it’s all about moderation.’ It sounds cliché, but it’s true.”

To help promote her knowledge of eating healthy, Shelton offers a course on intuitive eating, which helps folks understand the general concept of listening to their body and finding a healthy balance. She also works with clients in weight management, disordered eating, chronic disease and general nutrition.

“You don’t want to eat only healthy things; you want to eat your favorite foods, but you want to be mindful of what you’re eating,” Shelton said. “And it’s about finding your sweet spot in the middle.”

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Tilapia Vegetable Casserole

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

From Natasha Kravchuk of



2 lbs (about 6-10 count) Tilapia fillets, thawed
Olive oil to saute
1 Tbsp ketchup (or Sriracha)
1 Tbsp mayo



2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper



2 medium bell peppers (red, orange or yellow)
2 medium/large carrots, julienned or grated
1 medium onion



1. Whisk together marinade ingredients. Combine with tilapia in a large zippered bag or bowl and marinate in the fridge at least 1 1/2 hours.

2. Slice onions into thin half circles, slice bell pepper into thin strips, and julienne or grate carrots. In a large skillet over medium/high, heat 2-3 Tbsp oil and saute onions for 3 minutes or until softened. Add sliced bell peppers and carrots and saute another 4-5 min or until softened. Remove from pan and set veggies aside.

3. Once fish is done marinating, drain and discard marinade. In the same empty, nonstick skillet over medium/high, add 2-3 Tbsp oil and saute fish lightly on the skillet just until golden on the outside (about 2 min per side) – it’s ok if it’s not cooked through completely at this point.

4. Layer the casserole dish with 1/2 of the vegetables on the bottom. Place fish over the vegetables. Stir together 1 Tbsp ketchup and 1 Tbsp mayo and brush this mixture evenly over the top of the fish. Cover fish with remaining veggies. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper to taste then cover tightly with foil or lid and bake at 375˚F for 15 min.



Maple Glazed Sheet Pan Salmon with Citrus

Prep Time:10 minutes

Cook Time:10 minutes

Marinating: 1 hour

Total Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 3

From Matt Ivan of Plating Pixels



⅛ cup pecans

½ cup real maple syrup

2 teaspoons orange zest

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 pound fresh, wild-caught salmon fillet

1 orange, sliced



Toast pecans over medium-high heat, stirring often until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool, chop and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together maple syrup, orange zest, rosemary, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

Pour mixture over salmon in a shallow baking dish. Marinate in fridge 1 to 4 hours, rotating halfway.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place salmon on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet skin side down. Discard extra marinade and top salmon with orange slices. Bake 8-12 minutes, depending on thickness, until center is cooked and meat flakes with a fork. 

Top with roasted pecans and salt to taste if needed. Serve immediately.



To save time, you can skip marinating and simply pour glaze over salmon then roast, but it won't be as flavorful.

Roasting on foil or parchment makes for easy cleanup. Discard it after roasting and give baking sheet a light clean.

Try adding veggies to bake at the same time as the salmon, such as asparagus, tomato, zucchini, cauliflower or broccoli.



• Easy Tuna Salad Sandwich 

From Calla Ramont of



1 can tuna (MSC certified)

2 tbsp avocado oil mayo

2 tbsp Greek yogurt

1/3 apple (diced)

2 tbsp pecans (chopped)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste



Drain tuna and empty can into a medium-sized bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.

Enjoy on sourdough bread for a delicious sandwich, on top of a salad, in lettuce cups, with crackers, or even on its own.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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