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Salmon Cakes
Use Greek yogurt for a lighter tartar sauce./ Renee Comet/ USA WEEKEND. Food Styling/ Lisa Cherkasky.

A key strategy for eating well — even when life is at its most hectic — is to have a pantry stocked with healthy foods that can be pulled together quickly and tastily. One of my go-to cupboard staples is canned or pouched salmon. It has all the same protein, minerals and protective omega-3 fats as fresh salmon at a fraction of the price. Flake it into pasta dishes, add it to green salads or combine it with mayo and lemon juice to use just as you would tuna in a sandwich.

You also can take the humble staple to another level entirely by making these crispy-outside, tender-inside salmon cakes. They are reminiscent of the salmon croquettes my grandmother used to make, but these have a delightful Asian twist, seasoned with scallions and cilantro and given a subtle crunch with water chestnuts. What’s more, they are made with whole-wheat bread, so each portion is also a serving of whole grains. The Ginger-Sesame Sauce is a creamy kind of tartar sauce made lighter with non-fat Greek yogurt and spiked with distinctive Asian flavors.

Salmon Cakes with Ginger-Sesame Sauce

• 6 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread
• Two 15-ounce cans salmon, drained and picked over for skin and bones
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 5 scallions (white and green parts)
• ½ cup canned water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
• ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
• ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tsps. olive oil

Remove the crusts from the bread, tear into pieces and process in a food processor until you get fine bread crumbs. In a large bowl, flake apart the salmon with a fork. Add the eggs and mix well. Finely chop 4 of the scallions and add to the bowl. Add the water chestnuts, cilantro, pepper and the bread crumbs and mix well. Shape the mixture into 12 patties.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1½ tsps. of the oil over medium heat. Add 6 patties and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the cooked patties to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Add the remaining 1½ tsps. oil to the pan and cook the rest of the cakes.Serve the cakes with the sauce on the side, garnished with scallion.

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Yield: 6 servings

Per serving (2 salmon cakes and 1½ Tbs. sauce): 395 calories, 18g carbohydrates, 35g protein, 20g fat (4g saturated), 135mg cholesterol, 3g fiber, 1,010mg sodium

Ginger-Sesame Sauce

• ½ cup plain non-fat yogurt or 6 Tbs. plain Greek-style non-fat yogurt
• 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
• 1½ Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger
• 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
• 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce

If using regular yogurt, place the yogurt in a strainer lined with a paper towel. Set the strainer over a bowl and let drain and thicken for 30 minutes. Place the drained or Greek-style yogurt in a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce and whisk until smooth.

Yield: 7 servings

Per serving (1½ Tbs.): 50 calories, 2g carbohydrates, 2g protein, 4.5g fat (.5g saturated), 2mg cholesterol, 0g fiber, 71mg sodium

Recipe reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Taunton Press Inc., from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life,by Ellie Krieger. Copyright by Ellie Krieger.

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Ellie Krieger is host of the The Food Network’s hit show “Healthy Appetite,” which airs on The Cooking Channel. The author of three cookbooks, her latest is Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy. A registered dietitian, Ellie has helped out with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and has teamed up with New York City SchoolFood initiative, where she created healthy, delicious menu items for students citywide.