The Healthiest Variety

Last night for dinner we had Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Portobellos. This is not B’s favorite meal, but I like it, and eating vegetarian is something I like to do at least once or twice a week. I followed the recipe exactly, except I used homemade spaghetti sauce that I had in the freezer. I served it with a side of steamed broccoli and cauliflower. (I used the other half of the bag, leftover from my Honey Stir Fry Chicken from the night before. The one I got on the reduced cart at HT for $1.00 – savings!)* If you like mushrooms, you’ll like this recipe. Although I have to say that it wasn’t very good leftover. The mushroom had a slightly gamey taste today. Since B doesn’t really care for portobellos (texture thing), he wanted to know what the health benefits of mushrooms were. We’ve found that knowing the health benefits can actually make things taste better! So I got my Worlds Healthiest Foods book out and we discussed it. According to what I read, crimini (which are just baby portobellos) are one of the healthiest varieties. However, in my past research I remember that maitakes and shiitakes were higher on the list.

I have this sometimes annoying, but usually beneficial habit of wanting to find the healthiest variety of everything, and then wanting to know the best way to prepare it in order to get the most nutrition from it. For instance, most vegetables and fruits are best eaten raw or lightly steamed. The longer you cook them and the higher the temperature, like in a hot oven, on the grill or in a pan with searing hot oil, the more nutrients are lost. However, tomatoes and garlic are better for you when they are lightly cooked. They still shouldn’t be cooked at high temps or for a long time.

Let me get back on topic. If I’m going to eat something, it might as well be the most nutritious. If I’m going to eat an apple it might as well be Red Delicious. (Edited to add: Red apples contain more antioxidants. However, if you are diabetic or prediabetic, you might want to eat a green apple instead. They convert less sugar.) And if I’m going to eat yogurt it might as well be Greek yogurt. (I like 2% Fage.) And if I’m going to eat nuts, I might as well eat raw, unsalted walnuts, almonds, pistachios or cashews (in that order, no more than 1/4 cup a day).

Well the problem is when you’re searching for the best of something, you’ll also find the worst. And when one of your favorite things, is the least healthy variety, it can be a bit disappointing. I love fish because it yummy and it’s good for you. It’s the best source of Omega 3’s. A couple years ago, I decided we should eat more fish. I hadn’t cooked fish at home much and wanted to learn. So I found that tilapia is really mild and tasty and therefore, difficult for me to screw up. The best part was that it was cheap! I can usually get it on sale at HT for around $2.99-$4.99/lb. Great! We ate tilapia at least once a week, and (at that time) I thought it was good for us.

A few months ago, I was researching to find the healthiest fish. Guess what? Tilapia is not one of them. Not even close. It’s pretty much near the bottom of the list. I remember reading somewhere that it was actually one of the worst types of fish you can eat. Incidentally, Salmon is the best. Too bad I don’t like it. In my research I also found that wild caught fish is the best because the natural habitat creates a leaner, healthier and tastier fish. Farm raised fish aren’t that great. Disease is also more prevalent in farm raised seafood. Basically it’s fat and lazy couch potato fish. (Just like our fat and lazy chickens, pigs and cows. If you haven’t watched Food Inc, you should. Also check out episodes of Dirty Jobs about turkeys, chickens and pigs.) Although farm raised tilapia are an ecologically better sustainable seafood choice. I also remember reading something about fish from China being, unreliable. The guidelines and standards in their fishing industry are questionable. Fish in general may be in danger due to our over consumption and water pollution. Well guess what. My $2.99-$4.99 a pound tilapia was farm raised fish from (you guessed it) China! Oh and my convenient-to-have-in-the-freezer-for-a-quick-meal, buy one get two free, easy peel shrimp… is also farm raised from China. Gah!!

Now I know that these are my opinions and standards here, and that this information might be arguable. (In case you couldn’t tell, I was smiling and shrugging as I typed “might” in that sentence, but my opinions are never set in stone and the minute I learn better, like the tilapia, I reform my opinion.) But It took me days of sifting through information to form an opinion, and it is my opinion that wild caught, cold water fish (they’re more oily), not from China are the best. Trout is my personal favorite because it’s milder than Salmon, but still high in Omega 3’s. Haddock and cod are also okay.

My dilemma now is that fish, by these standards, are hard to come by and are not cheap. They usually costs somewhere between $10 (if your lucky) and $20 per pound. Right now I buy most of my fish from HT, but the pickings are slim. Haddock and cod are less expensive and easier to find. The few times HT had something good on sale, they either ran out, or it was icky-looking. (Fresh seafood should be fleshy and clear and have a very light odor. Stay away from any seafood that smells funky, looks opaque or has juice that looks milky.) If anyone out there knows where I can find fresh fish in the Charlotte area, that meet these standards PLEASE (I beg you) email me or comment below.

*A foodie might recognize the hypocrisy of this statement in a post about choosing the healthiest variety. Fresh foods have more nutrients. The fresher the better… but a dollar?? Sometimes the bargain hunter in me wins!

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About Michele
Wife and Mom of three girls doing her best to lead the family into a healthier lifestyle and evolve gracefully.

3 Responses to The Healthiest Variety

  1. Jodie McKenzie says:

    LOVING your blogs!! Keep it up!! Your teaching me as you learn also! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Seasonal Eating « HealthyMamma's Blog

  3. Pingback: A Year on Real Food « HealthyMamma's Blog

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