Every January our focus turns to kicking off the year with a renewed commitment to healthy eating. Droves of us join gyms, invest in the latest protein powders and high fibre shakes in pursuit of a healthier life. But little do we know that there’s a delicious powerhouse food that’s easy to make and won’t break your wallet just waiting to help us meet our goals. Registered Dietitian Lois Ferguson helps explain the benefits that fresh blue cultured mussels have compared to protein foods such as meat, and poultry. “Fresh mussels are packed with important health benefits. They are rich in nutrients without adding significant calories or fat to meals. This makes them the perfect food for people who aim to live a life of fitness and health.” A 100 gram serving of fresh blue cultured mussels delivers an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, zinc, manganese, folate, niacin, riboflavin and thiamine. In fact, mussels offer more iron and Vitamin B12 than beef. And unlike beef or pork, blue cultured mussels are low in saturated fat while still delivering an excellent source of protein. “This makes mussels a great choice for entrées as there’s an abundance of delicious ingredients to combine with them to make healthy meals for family and friends,” says Ferguson. “Mussels are every bit as versatile a shrimp, for instance, and while they are both low in saturated fat, mussels have only one third the amount of cholesterol.” It’s a common expression that seafood is “brain food” and research has shown how long-chain omega-3 fats in our food benefits the brain, eyes and nerves. Ferguson points out that “compared to the very popular and healthy choice option of halibut, a 100 gram serving of fresh blue cultured mussels has 125 per cent of the omega 3 fats found in the same serving of halibut. So you can really think of mussels as having similar health benefits to fish.” Commonly thought to be solely in the realm of fruits and vegetables, blue mussels are also an excellent source of selenium, a mineral that is considered a dietary antioxidant involved in the formation of a protein that defends against oxidative stress. “In addition to providing antioxidants, mussels are a good source of Vitamin C, which is rare among protein sources,” says Ferguson. “A 100 gram serving of mussels provides 14 milligrams of Vitamin C, compared to same size serving of watermelon which provides only 9 milligrams.”
- 2 1/2 lb fresh cultured blue mussels
- 1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tbsp black pepper, cracked
- 1 tsp roasted whole coriander, crushed
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup salsa
- 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- Stir the fresh blue mussels in a colander while rinsing in tap water. Set aside for a few minutes. Tap any that are open and discard those that don’t close in response to the tap. Place shallots in a large wide saucepan with lime juice, pepper, coriander and butter. Bring to quick simmer over medium to high heat (about 1 minute). Add fresh blue mussels. Pour wine and salsa on top. Cover, reduce heat to low and steam mussels just until cooked. Discard any mussels that do not open. Arrange in a large bowl. Add fresh cilantro to broth, add sprinkle of sea salt if necessary, pour broth over mussels and serve.
“Farmed mussels are much more than a pleasure to serve, they are a power house of good nutrition,” says Linda Duncan, Executive Director of the Mussel Industry Council. “If you make it a routine at your house to serve mussels once a week, you’ll feel good knowing you’re giving your family a low fat meal that is good for them and the ocean. Farmed mussels are a super green seafood packed with good nutrition.” The Mussel Industry Council website (www.discovermussels.com) is home to great recipes, tips on how to cook and prepare mussels, and reasons why fresh mussels are perfect for your healthy living plan in 2011. Also featured on the website is a chance to win a trip for two to San Francisco.