Every summer I look forward to the barbecue season, but this year, I am considering cutting back on my red meat consumption for health reasons. Enter Jacqueline King Schiller, co-author of the new fish-focused cookbook, Pescan, with her long-time friend actress Abbie Cornish.
King is a graduate of the professional chef program at the Natural Gourmet Institute and the professional plant-based cooking course from Rouxbe Cooking School. She is the woman behind the food blog The Feel Good Kitchen and believes that anyone can become a good cook if they just practice. Here she talks to us about why she likes a pescan— or pescatarian — diet and how you can overcome any intimidation you feel about cooking fish.
Pescan Diet Basics
Pescatarians eat mainly plants, but unlike vegetarians, they also eat fish and other seafood, such as shrimp. The pescan diet also eliminates dairy. King says, “Pescan eating is what makes me personally feel my best. But I also think from a nutritional standpoint that it is an extremely healthy way to eat.” The biggest misconception about a pescatarian diet is that it means eating fish at every meal.
Similar to a vegetarian diet, a pescan diet has been associated with health benefits such as a lower body mass index, reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, and lower blood pressure. A pescan diet allows for more protein choices over vegan or vegetarian diets, and fish has less fat and calories than other meats and lots of omega-3 fatty acids.
King and Cornish met more than a dozen years ago through their boyfriends at the time. King says, “They were great friends and we were the girlfriends. Eventually, we developed a friendship of our own.” Over the years the two women bonded, especially over food.
When Cornish, a novice cook, asked King for cooking lessons, King was happy to oblige. Writing a cookbook together seemed like a great way to share their passion for food and friendship. King says, “We wanted to focus on pescan as a lifestyle, a way of eating in which you can really take pleasure from food without having to count macros or calories or feel too restricted.”
Some of the recipes in the cookbook seem too elaborate for those of use with limited culinary skills, but King is encouraging. “If you feel intimidated by longer recipes, just start with easier ones first. As you get more comfortable in the kitchen, you can branch out. Keep in mind that a good recipe is like a roadmap, just follow it carefully and it will get you where you need to go.”
King and Cornish wanted their book to provide readers with tips for making everyday meals shine to preparing a feast for a crowd. King says, “We included recipes and techniques for whole-food basics, like how to make steamed grains; homemade beans; steamed, sautéed, and roasted veggies; etc. These easy basic recipes are the ones we use the most in our day-to-day lives.”
When it comes to cooking and entertaining, King’s best advice is to stay relaxed in the kitchen. She says, “When cooking for your friends, it doesn’t have to be perfect. If the food is not ready when people get there, pour them a glass of wine and ask them to help. Most people will be happy to do so.”
If you’re new to hosting, consider a potluck. Let guests bring the salad, appetizers, and dessert, so you can focus on just the main dish.” Other suggestions for cooking for a crowd include choosing recipes that can be made in advance, served cold, or aren’t too labor intensive. And make Siri your sous chef, King says. “Set timers for everything. Use a smart speaker that you can yell at to set multiple timers while your hands are busy.”