Hey, What’s Cookin’?
Today I’m featuring a tasty twist on sushi–in the form of a tuna bowl, packable and perfect for work. This salad replaces white rice with riced cauliflower, and relies on canned, rather than fresh tuna.
A typical five-ounce can of light tuna has 28 grams of protein, approximately 56% of your daily requirement. It’s also a great source of the heart-helping omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Not all canned tuna is equal, however. In a study published in Public Health Nutrition, researchers analyzed canned tuna products in U.S. grocery stores. Tuna packed in water had higher EPA and DHA levels and lower Omega 6::Omega 3 ratios, compared to those packed in oil. So nutritionally, water-packed is the better option.
Canned tuna is available in two different forms:
- Albacore tuna is labeled “solid white” or “chunk white.” Albacore is the biggest of the tuna family
- Skipjack and Tongol tunas are labeled “chunk light” and are the smallest members of the tuna family
Tuna and Mercury Concerns
Mercury is the primary concern in big fish like tuna. Pollution releases mercury into the air, and as it settles in the ocean, all fish absorb it from the waters.
The bigger the tuna, the bigger the other fish (which have mercury in them) it eats. By the time an Albacore is caught for food, it has accumulated enormous amounts of other fish’s mercury in its own flesh. Because of their smaller size, Skipjack and Tongol (chunk light) have 3 times less mercury than Albacore (solid white) and therefore you can safely eat more of the chunk light varieties.
For example, if you’re a 150 lb. adult, you should eat only 1 can of Albacore (solid white) tuna every 9 days. In contrast, you can safely eat 1 can of “chunk light” tuna every 3 days!
If you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant: Philippe Grandjean, MD, a toxin researcher and adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health, believes there’s no room for any kind of canned tuna in the diet. He urges people to eat salmon, mackerel and shrimp, which have considerably less mercury than tuna. Michael Gochfeld, MD, PhD, professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University, agrees. He says, “Pregnant women and children under 6 should not eat canned white tuna and should limit canned light tuna. “They would be much better off choosing canned salmon instead, which is very low in mercury and much higher in beneficial Omega 3s.”
The upshot of all this? Chunk light tuna packed in water can safely be a part of most people’s diets 2 times a week. Make every can count by including it as part of a truly delicious meal, like this Tuna “Rice” Bowl! And if you are pregnant or feeding children under 6, use canned salmon, mackerel, and shrimp instead.
Tuna “Rice” Bowl
- 1 small carrot, thinly sliced or grated
- 1/2 avocado, sliced or diced
- Place the fresh or frozen cauliflower rice in a microwave-proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. For fresh cauliflower, microwave on High for 3 minutes. For frozen cauliflower rice, microwave on High for 4 minutes, stopping and stirring at the 2-minute mark. Remove plastic wrap, stir, and allow the rice to cool COMPLETELY.
- Place cooled cauliflower rice in the bottom of a 3-4 cup resealable container. Top with tuna, cucumber, carrots, avocado. sesame seeds, and nori.
- For the dressing, whisk together soy sauce, mirin, and oil in a small bowl. Season with pepper to taste, pour in a small leakproof container, and keep refrigerated until just before serving.
- If you are packing this bowl for lunch, slice the avocado onto the bowl just before eating. If you can’t slice up a fresh one at work, buy single-serving packets of guacamole and squeeze one over your bowl.
Photograph via prevention.com