I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jeannie Parnell, a community developer with a passion for food. We recently did a joint presentation on nutrition and Indigenous Food Sovereignty. It was exciting to hear her talk about how she makes wholesome meals for her family by incorporating harvested traditional foods alongside foods purchased from the store. Jeannie is from the Stellat’en First Nation, near Fraser Lake, and currently resides in Prince Rupert with her husband and son. She explains:
“I wanted to make a healthier version of what is now being called the ‘Indian tacos’ Jeannie told me. ‘Indian Tacos’ are usually made with fried white bannock, topped off with chili, cheese and sour cream, and having little or no vegetables. Also, some Indigenous people are lactose intolerant so I wanted to create a recipe with the option of no cheese or sour cream with the addition of vegetables. I call this recipe the ‘Northwest Fish Taco’. The Northwest Fish Taco provides a healthy alternative that is less time consuming to make and is more versatile—you can use baked salmon or vary the vegetables!”
Incorporating harvested traditional foods
Jeannie likes to make most of her meals from food she and her family have harvested. She explains that they taste better and incorporate her family’s traditions:
"Growing up as a family of nine, we relied heavily on our own Indigenous foods to supplement our food budget. My brothers are hunters. My mother did the fishing for our family for many years. My traditional teachings come from my mom who kept those going. She always had a smokehouse and did her own canning. We had a huge garden that we worked in as kids. I am so thankful for all of this; it enhanced my quality of life.”
Salmon, (which is rich in protein, omega 3 fats, vitamin D, and vitamin A) as part of healthy diet, can help us in overall wellness. Health Canada recommends that we eat 2 – 4 servings per week of fatty fish like salmon. This taco recipe is a delicious way to get in one of those servings! Check out the First Nations Health Authority Traditional Foods Fact sheets or these food and nutrition fact sheets for more information.
I’m looking forward to trying Jeannie’s Northwest Fish Tacos!
Northwest Fish Tacos
- ½ head of purple or green cabbage, sliced
- 2-3 Tbsp. of vegetable oil (try olive or grapeseed oil)
- Juice from 1 lemon or 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
Mix together. Set aside in the fridge.
- 6-8 corn or flour tortillas
- ½ Tbsp. of vegetable oil such as olive oil
Heat the oil in a cast iron pan. Add tortillas and toast both sides until golden brown. Put aside.
- ½ of a left over baked salmon, broken into chunks and bones removed
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable such as olive oil
Heat the oil in a cast iron pan. Add fish and toast on both sides until a little crunchy.
- ½ avocado
- ½ cup of fresh dill (if using dried, use less)
- Juice from ½ lemon (or 1 Tbsp. bottled lemon juice)
- ¼ cup of water
Blend until smooth.
Put salmon into each tortilla with the coleslaw on top. Top with avocado dressing and a squeeze of lemon. Serve with salad and roasted sweet potatoes if desired. Makes 6 – 8 tacos.