Ingredient Spotlight | Mussels

Mussels are an excellent choice when considering shellfish. Why? Because they are inexpensive, easy to make and healthy. Who doesn’t love a ridiculous tasty meal that is good for you and low in fat and calories? Mussels are a super food, packed with nutrients that many don’t know about. One of the health benefits of eating mussels is having a healthier heart. The shellfish’s low saturated fat and high omega-3 fatty acids content helps lower the risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Mussels are also rich in protein and Vitamin B12, which are dietary essentials. In fact, each 1-cup serving of mussels contains about 18 grams of protein, which is about 30% of the daily intake.

If you love mussels but are intimidated to cook them yourself, don’t be. Mussels are really simple to prepare, and there are several ways to enjoy them.

Here are some tips on cooking mussels to make sure your dish comes out as delicious as possible:

  1. Store mussels properly. Put them in a bowl and cover loosely with a damp towel. Keep them in the refrigerator, and cook within two days.
  2. Make sure they’re alive. When ready to cook, you’ll want to make sure the mussels are alive and well. Most should still be closed tightly, but for any that are open, give them a tap. If they close, they’re good to go. If they don’t react, throw them out. Also discard any with cracked shells.
  3. Clean thoroughly. If you purchased wild mussels as opposed to cultivated ones, soak them in cold water for 20 minutes and drain. For either type, remove the “beards” by pulling them towards the hinged end of the shell with your thumb and forefinger. Then, scrub the mussels under cold, running water.
  4. Steam them. Steaming mussels is the most popular method of cooking the bivalves. Because they already contain some liquid, you don’t need to add much more. Just add enough liquid of your choice (broth, wine, etc.) to cover the bottom of the hot pot, and then add the mussels. Cover the pot with a lid for about five to seven minutes. When the mussels are open, they’re ready to eat!

Check out our Mussels with Horseradish, Aioli, and Grilled Bread recipe for an interesting take on the popular shellfish!

Also Did You Know…

  • Mussels have been a primary source of food for over 20,000 years.
  • Some mussels can live for up to 50 years!
  • The “beard” of the mussel is called the byssus. Its purpose is to attach the mussel to a solid surface.
  • Male mussels have white or cream-colored meat, while the meat of female mussels has more of an orange hue.
  • This mollusk is largest and fleshiest in October and smallest in March.
  • Watch out! Mussels do contain sodium and cholesterol. This slightly lowers their nutritional value, so as always, eat in moderation.

Ingredient Low-down | Watermelon

10 Health Benefits from Watermelon

Watermelon is one of those wild foods that are a fruit while also having vegetable properties. It’s a low-calorie food that acts as a hydration and an antioxidant, while fighting inflammation. Watermelon is also considered to be an alkaline food, meaning it helps to bring your body’s pH level back to its natural level and reducing inflammation. In an alkaline environment, diseases have a harder time developing and spreading compared to a more acidic one. Here are 10 health benefits to eating more watermelon,
according to Dr. Axe:

1. BOOSTS IMMUNITY – The high supply of Vitamin C found in watermelon has also been shown to help improve immune function, shorten the duration of sickness and to help the body defend against heart disease and cancer.
2. IMPROVE HEART HEALTH – Studies have indicated that potassium intake from fruits and vegetables can positively impact blood pressure reduction in adults, which is useful in lowering the risk of stroke and heart disease.
3. RELIVES MUSCLE SORENESS – Watermelon provides Vitamin C, which has been shown to protect cartilage and bones, to be used in repairing tendons and ligaments, and to help speed wound healing and scar tissue.
4. PREVENTS KIDNEY STONES – Watermelon is a natural diuretic, meaning it helps to remove waste through increased urine production. While caffeinated drinks and alcohol also act as diuretics, they put stress on the kidneys to do so, while watermelon does not.
5. DETOXIFIES THE BODY – The majority of watermelon is made up of water (about 91%). Eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content helps the body to detox and rid itself of excess water and fluids, reliving uncomfortable bloating and swelling.
6. CAN HELP FIGHT CANCER – Watermelon is also a great supplier of antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which help fight free radial damage and stop DNA from harmfully mutating, leading to the formation of cancerous tumors.
7. PROTECTS SKIN HEALTH – Studies have shown that watermelon’s antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A both play an important part in maintaining the health of skin, especially as someone ages.
8. BOOSTS EYE HEALTH – Watermelon is a great supplier of beta carotene, the form of vitamin A found in plants. It plays a role in preventing macular degeneration, the leading cause of age-related blindness.
9. CAN HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS – Watermelon is very low in calories due to its high water content, yet offers important nutrients. At only 46 calories per cup, watermelon makes a great
healthy snack option or addition to a healthy smoothie.
10. RELIEVES ACID REFLUX – Watermelon helps to soothe the gastrointestinal tract and helps to regulate pH levels, while also lessening inflammation and acid production throughout the body.

5427691534_4c0420cdc9_bWe have one more month left of getting your watermelon fix! So start with this amazing recipe adapted from Rachel Farnsworth

Cilantro & Lime Grilled Watermelon
It’s still BBQ season and by now you should’ve attended a few of them, but
if Grilled Watermelon hasn’t been on any of their menus, step up and be everyone’s BBQ hero this year! This Cilantro-Lime recipe takes on a new taste to watermelon and changes your preconceived notion that watermelon is only good for making fruit salads or boozy drinks. Take it from me when I say that watermelon is super versatile and fits just as well in a fruit platter as it does in a summer salad. It’s an added bonus to be able to grill them! So break out your apron and fire up the grill, summer’s not over and neither should your appetite.

 1 watermelon (sliced into 2-inch triangles)
 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
 2 limes, juiced
 ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
 Salt, to taste

1. Cut each watermelon round into 4 even triangle pieces. Brush each side of the pieces with olive oil and drizzle some of the lime juice, leaving at least half of the remaining juice for after. Season each side with a pinch of salt.
2. Heat an outdoor gas grill to high heat. Grill watermelon for 3-5 minutes on each side to give a nice seared look.
3. Remove from grill and season with the remaining lime juice. Top with chopped cilantro and add additional salt to taste.

*For added taste, dip the tips of each piece in a mixture of cajun pepper and salt for a flavor kick!