Mary’s Memo #2235

     I recently read that a Brazilian researcher, Gustavo Castro, an environmental chemist at Sao Paulo State University, who happens to be a banana lover, is helping remake the image of the peeling. The peel, it turns out, can take water, dirtied by copper and lead in mining operations or other activities, and help turn it into drinking water. The peels performed well or better than conventional filtering materials for a lot less money. The findings were published earlier this year in Chemistry Research, a publication of the American Chemical Society. Don’t reach for your glass yet because it’s not ready for human consumption.

     Canned tuna is a good way to get lean protein, omega-3 fats, selenium, vitamin D, B vitamins and other nutrients but there are lingering concerns about mercury. Nearly all fish has traces of methyl mercury, a form of mercury that has neurotoxic effects, especially in developing brains; large fish have more. White tuna generally has more than light tuna, which comes from smaller fish, though the levels vary widely. And some testing has shown that light tuna also has amounts high enough to be of concern.
     The effects of low levels of mercury in adults is not clear, but a recent Harvard study concluded that relatively high intakes do not increase cardiovascular disease risk, as some had feared. Still it’s reasonable to limit your exposure.
     In particular, the FDA says that young children and pregnant women should eat no more than 12-ounces of low mercury fish a week, which includes canned light tuna but no more than 6-ounces of white tuna a week. Albacore is white tuna.
     Water-packed tuna is usually preferable because it has fewer calories and retains more omega 3’s. Oil-packed chunk tuna absorbs more oil than solid white, even if you drain it. On the other hand, the oil that tuna is packed in, often soybean oil, is unsaturated and heart-healthy. That said unless you are watching your calories, choose whichever you prefer.
     To get a sense of how much tuna (and other fish) you can eat before exceeding mercury limits set by the government, several advocate groups provide “mercury calculators.” One is at
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, October 2011.


     I may not include calories with every memo recipe but you can be sure that recipes I use have less than 400, preferably fewer than 300, whether it’s an entrée or a dessert.I’ve had a problem with many recent Pillsbury® Bake-Off® winners that have in excess of 500 calories. With the weight problem that we have in America, it beats me why Pillsbury® is not influenced by calorie count.
     Don’t tell me it’s none of my business what people eat because what people eat is my business. Mary’s Memo is a “bully pulpit” to promote healthy eating. The same is true when I’m serving samples at the Bryan Chief. Shoppers may think it’s just a tasting experience but my real goal is to educate the consumer, kids included, about making better food choices. Some people ask if I’ve removed the calories. No, but like memo recipes, most will be less than 300 calories per serving and never over 400!

     I can make a meal on soup and salad. Daughter Mary Ann made this week’s Paula Deen recipe with Swiss chard but I used Chief’s ready-to-use chopped kale. Oregano was Mary Ann’s idea and both of us cooked the greens half as long as Paula did. Bryan tasters gave it a thumbs up and many bought the ingredients to make it before they left the store.

1.22-lb. package lean hot Italian sausage, casings removed1 cup chopped onion2 cloves garlic, minced6 cups low-sodium chicken broth(2) 16-ounce cans Bush® navy beans, rinsed and drained1-1/2 teaspoons dried oreganoCracked pepper to taste4 cups chopped kaleIn large Dutch oven cook sausage, onions and garlic over medium-high heat until sausage is browned and crumbly, about 6 minutes. Drain fat if necessary. Stir in broth, beans and oregano. Add pepper to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add kale, cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 10 servings. Serve with corn muffins, if desired.
Source: Adapted from a Paula Deen recipe.

     I’m sorry that candy corn I buy is made in Mexico instead of the US but it doesn’t stop me from combining candy corn with salted peanuts to munch on this time of year. The amount of each is up to you but I use 2 bags of candy corn and 16-ounces of peanuts. Other things you might add include raisins and/or red hots. Yum! Download PDF of Memo #2235

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *