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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby Lima Beans

My family doesn't like mashed cauliflower. We'd rather have it raw, or steamed with a sprinkling of cheese. It is definitely not a replacement for a big pile of mashed potatoes.
But we did find a "better carb choices" substitute. It's white, has a mild flavor, feels creamy in your mouth, and is popular with the kids. It's easy to cook. It goes well with a little bacon, and makes a nice side dish.

Baby Lima beans! This one is simple:

Cook one cup dried baby limas in enough broth to cover.
Simmer for one hour, adding additional water as necessary.
Season to taste.

Thanks to Mel at dietriffic for reminding me about the latest legume addition to my diet.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

New USDA salmon figures based on too-few samples?

Farm-raised salmon is cheap compared to fresh. You might find farm-raised for $9.00 a pound in the fresh case and $5.99 a pound in 2-pound package of individually-wrapped frozen fillets.

But farm-raised salmon has lately been known to have a lot of omega-6 fatty acids, making it very inflammatory -- just the sort of thing you DON'T want if you are looking for heart-healthy diet choices.

So I was surprised to read that they have suddenly gotten better. The newly-updated USDA database says that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in farmed Atlantic Salmon is now a favorable 1:2.6 instead of the former, very unfavorable 7:1 (is that right? 7:1? Who's got a copy of the old database?). So a serving farm-raised salmon has gone from being highly inflammatory to being highly anti-inflammatory. The ratio is not quite as good as for wild Atlantic Salmon (1:12), but since the farm-raised salmon is nearly twice as fatty, you get a bigger anti-inflammatory dose per ounce.

Monica Reinagel proposed that big changes in aquaculture practices have accounted for this change. But I am not sure this change is universal. I quickly searched for "salmon USDA" and came up with a USDA poster presentation from Experimental Biology 2007 giving lipid figures for salmon. Turns out, only 2 samples of farm-raised Atlantic Salmon were tested, from shopping trips to 12 different US grocery stores.

Two samples? Is that representative of all the farmed Atlantic salmon available in the US? How can I know if the salmon I see in my grocery store more closely resembles the new farmed salmon or the old?

Is it normal for the USDA to "improve" its database with data from such a narrow sampling? What other USDA figures should I start distrusting?

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