Continuing our food theme this week, I have a few more useful resources to recommend to you all. The first is -- as you may have guessed it! -- an iPhone application. ;) But don't despair if you don't have an iPhone. This app is a spin-off of the popular website, allrecipes.com, where you can enter in the ingredients you have on hand to discover what dishes you can make. The AllRecipes app uses the "Dinner Spinner" tool, which allows you to pick out the kind of dish you want, the main ingredient you have, and the time you have to prepare it. Then it returns the matches, complete with the recipes and reviews. I've found it to be very helpful when I'm in the grocery store and I discover a great sale on a particular item, but I don't know what to do with it. I enter it into the Dinner Spinner and then pick out a recipe I want to make. From there, I can pick up the extra ingredients to make a fabulous dish.
I've also become a big fan of the Nutrition Data blog, which is run by nutritionist Monica Reinagel. It's full of extremely useful information, including various nutrition tools. In one recent post, she wrote about the ways one can combat the "winter blues" through nutrition and exercise. Eating carbohydrates and exercising are two ways to increase the "feel good" hormone, serotonin. That's fairly common information, but she also pointed out that folic acid supplementation can help support serotonin production. You can take a pill for that, but it's better to eat foods that are naturally high in folic acid, such as edamame, spinach, collards, and asparagus.
Monica Reinagel writes often about consuming an anti-inflammatory diet, a topic I'll explore in greater detail in a future post. Earlier this year, she wrote about how consumer pressure helped to change the salmon farming industry to make those fish healthier to consume:
The latest nutrient data from the USDA shows that farmed Atlantic salmon has undergone what is perhaps the most dramatic nutritional makeover in history.
Salmon is known for being rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and, as you know, the anti-inflammatory diet is very big these days. (The recognition of inflammation as a key factor in heart disease and other common diseases was hailed by Time Magazine as one of the Top Ten Medical Breakthroughs of 2008.)
Several years ago, I caused quite a stir by pointing out that farmed salmon was actually highly inflammatory. When I first published the IF Ratings, a 3-ounce serving had an IF Rating of -491. (For more background, see this related post on IF Ratings.)
As I (and others) pointed out, farmed Atlantic salmon was quite high in arachidonic acid, an inflammatory fatty acid from the omega-6 family. The problem was that farmed salmon were being fed a diet rich in omega-6 vegetable oils rather than a more natural diet of omega-3 rich fish and algae. As a result, their flesh was unnaturally high in omega-6 fats.
Fish farmers apparently got the message! Big changes in aquaculture practices have resulted in farmed Atlantic salmon that is much lower in arachidonic acid...so much lower, in fact, that the most recent samples tested by the USDA had an IF Rating of +775 per 3 ounce serving!
So, after years of warning people to avoid farmed salmon, especially if they were trying to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, I'm now putting farmed salmon back on the menu!
NOTE: Unfortunately, the USDA only updated the nutrient information for raw farmed salmon and has failed to provide updated data for cooked farmed salmon. As a result, the IF Rating for cooked farmed salmon still shows as inflammatory. Until the USDA updates these listings as well, I would consider the nutrient info (and IF Rating) for cooked farmed salmon to be out-of-date.
That's great news for me, because I love salmon and can't always find nor afford wild-caught salmon. I also assume that unless it's stipulated otherwise on the menu, most salmon dishes in restaurants are farmed fish. So this is very encouraging. Bon appetit!