Tuna provides a good example of where health warnings drive people crazy. Tuna good for us because it’s a quality protein with almost no fat. But we’re also told it is bad for us because it contains mercury.
Let’s set the record straight right now and get on with enjoying this perfect guy food in a fast, healthy meal.
Tuna may be what your mother made for school day lunch, but it’s real man food. One six-ounce can contains about 32 grams of protein and one to six grams of fat. Because it doesn’t require cooking, it’s easy and way convenient, especially at the end of a long day or for lunch on the go.
Tuna (canned, and other forms) are a cold-water fish and as such contain Omega-3 fatty acids, of particular interest to men for prevention of strokes and heart attacks.
Not all tuna are the same, in looks, texture and levels of mercury. Albacore tuna, the premium variety that is more solid, white in color and chunks up well on a bed of lettuce, is also about twice as expensive as the other varieties (“light”). The only variety on which the FDA urges caution is Albacore.
Does the mercury matter? Government warnings on mercury content are all directed at pregnant women and children. This generally has to do with developing nervous systems, of little concern to adult men. But if it is bad for kids, doesn’t that suggest it is also bad for adults? Officially, no. But since Albacore is also twice as expensive, why not give other tuna a chance?
Hold back on the mayo: The saturated fats in mayonnaise considerably tip the balance of a tuna meal toward the unhealthy side. Learn instead to flavor and texturize a tuna meal in other ways such as the following recipe.
Code Orange Tuna
I’m a believer in hedging my bets in all things. Where it comes to food that means I buy both Albacore and “Light” variety canned tunas. The challenge is, when you’re accustomed to firm, chunky Albacore, the other varieties look a lot like cat food. That might also explain why light tuna is about half the price of Albacore.
One approach might be to think of the cheaper, feline-esque “light” variety as similar to protein powder in a smoothie drink. You mix it in and primarily taste and feel the other ingredients. The fish simply adds protein content to the meal. This recipe is one of hundreds that you could try, incorporating textures, flavors and as much spice as you like.
• Medium size skillet
· One 6-ounce can tuna, chunk light in water
· One large sweet potato, grated
· One medium onion, chopped
· One 15 ounce can of diced, stewed tomatoes (or fresh tomato, chopped)
· 1-2 cloves (about 1-2 teaspoons) of minced garlic
· Two handfuls of chopped green peppers (from frozen is ok)
· 3-5 doses of lemon juice
· 3-5 doses of olive oil
· Chili spice and salt to taste
1. Heat skillet to medium high and add olive oil.
2. Chop onion and mince garlic.
3. Grate sweet potato and add to skillet, toss, and add tuna, lemon juice, salt and spices. Cover to allow juices to steam-cook the potato for 8-10 minutes.
4. Add chopped green peppers and tomatoes when potatoes are mostly cooked (in the last 2-3 minutes). Stir.
Done in about 12 minutes, this dish might be served with some grated cheese on top.
For more ideas on healthy meals made with long shelf-life foods in under 15 minutes, get “A Guy’s Gotta Eat, the regular guy’s guide to eating smart” (Marlowe & Co, March 2004).