Cooking and the Heart Healthy Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids (with a Recipe for Curried Tuna Wraps with Sweet Tomato Chutney)

Written and compiled by Lori Jo and published on the Advantage Wellness Management Inc. blog, websites, and all their social medias but the company has since closed due to new health reform laws so I am publishing the work here as an example of my published work.

Recipe and photos by Lori Jo

 

Part of any Wellness Program is eating well and taking good care of your heart.  Eating fish is a healthy and delicious way to do just that.  Outside of being delicious, fish has many healthy attributes for the heart and one of them is the omega-3 fatty acids (known as EPA/ eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA/docosahexaenoic acid).  One of the reasons is because omega-3 has anti-inflammatory properties and inflammation in the body that can damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease.  Experts say that eating one or two servings of fish a week can reduce your risk of heart attack by a third or more.  There is some concern over mercury content, but when it comes to a healthy heart the benefits outweigh the possible risks.

Here are some further health related omega-3 fatty acids benefits:

  • Boost immunity and improve arthritis symptoms
  • DHA is a constituent of membranes of nerve cells in the brain and is thought to play an important role in normal brain development and function
  • For children, it can improve their learning ability
  • Helps to protect mental and physical health
  • Lower blood pressure
  • May decrease triglycerides
  • Reduce the risk of stroke, several forms of cancer, and auto immune diseases
  • Reduces blood clotting

The average American diet is actually lacking in omega-3, so it’s important we do what we can to increase our intake and possibly protect ourselves from a number of conditions that may be related to this diet deficiency.

 

In addition to heart benefits and general health benefits fish oils are also very good for your skin and hair!  This is my favorite aspect as I have a keen interest in health and beauty and how they interrelate.  You are what you eat as they say so when you take care of your body and mind it can make a huge impact on your appearance as well as your health.

There are many delicious ways you can prepare fish and I will include one of my personal favorites below (this is my own recipe) and it features canned tuna.  Canned tuna is a very convenient way of preparing dishes that include fish as it’s readily available and easy to store.  Here are some of the benefits of canned tuna:

*Health Benefits of Canned Tuna according to the Self Nutritional Data website

  • Good source of Niacin
  • Good source of Phosphorus
  • Good source of Protein
  • Good source of Selenium
  • Good source of Vitamin B12
  • Low carb
  • Low fat
  • Rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Here is a yummy and healthy dish that I created myself using tuna:

“Curried Tuna Wraps with Sweet Tomato Chutney”

Types of diet this recipe is well suited for:

Variations on the recipe according to other dietary needs

  • Replace the sour cream with Tofutti’s Sour Cream nondairy replacement for a dairy free version
  • The flour tortillas can be replaced with corn for a gluten free version
  • The regular canned tuna can be replaced with salt free version for a low in sodium version.

*Always try to purchase organic, dolphin safe, and cruelty free ingredients when possible*

Serves: 2

Time to prepare: 30 minutes

Difficulty scale:  This recipe is easy to easy/moderate.  I highly recommend eating the wraps with the Chutney garnish, but they are still very delicious alone (or by themselves).  Homemade Chutney also makes a nice gift if you are invited to somebody’s house for dinner.

*Note:  If you decide to make the chutney with the wraps, prepare the chutney first so it can cook and reduce while you make the wraps.

Ingredients for the Wraps

Fresh Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper corns
  • 1 pod of cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (enough to sauté the vegetables)
  • 1 peeled or scrubbed clean carrot, brunoised (chopped or cubed into small cubes)
  • 1 red bell pepper, brunoised
  • 1 medium sized red onion, brunoised
  • 1 clove garlic, chop finely
  • 1 small, fresh red chili.  Remove seeds if you do not like it hot, and chop finely
  • 2 cans of dolphin safe tuna packed in spring water
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1/3 of a cup of sour cream
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 4 to 6 soft flour tortilla wraps
  • 1 small bunch of fresh, organic cilantro, rinsed well and chopped roughly
  • Tabasco

As you can see, this recipe is rich in Omegas 3 and 6 and I love it because it’s nutritious, healthy, light, easy to prepare and you can make several different variations according to what you like.  I especially like the “curry” twist to this recipe.  I love the warm and complex flavors that curry spices add to a dish and it’s a lot simpler than people think.  It really does pay off to get the dried whole seeds, toast them and grind them yourself and it only takes seconds!  In general, when making curries and foods flavored with curry spices you can buy a pre made bottle of curry powder. I use some of that in this recipe, but the real flavor comes from the whole, toasted and ground up seeds.

As far as flour tortilla wraps go, there are different varieties available at your local supermarkets and health food stores.  You have flavored, lard free, vegetarian, whole wheat, classic and corn.  I have not tried the flavored ones yet and I usually stick with the lard free wheat varieties.  I have made the classic flour ones at home from scratch and they turned out quite nice. In addition to that, they were a lot of fun to make!   In this dish you have the savory (tuna), the salty (tuna), the sweet (chutney), and the spicy (chili) all mixed in with the warm curry flavors and the cool sour cream.  The result is delicious!  The tortilla adds a nice texture and flavor and is very thin so it will not overpower the dish or make it too heavy.

Method for the Wraps

Serves: Makes 4-8 raps, 2-4 per person (depending on how big you make them and the size of the tortillas)

  1. Toast the seeds in your sauté pan until golden and aromatic.  Remove from heat and grind to a powder in a small mortar and pestle
  2. Heat a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions, carrots, chili and bell peppers until golden
  3. Add garlic and sauté until the garlic is golden, be careful not to burn the garlic as it cooks and burns quickly
  4. Add toasted and ground spices, curry powder and a little fresh ground pepper.  You can add sea salt if you feel it needs it.  Taste first to determine
  5. Add drained tuna from the cans
  6. Stir the mixture until well mixed and add the sour cream, remove from heat
  7. Heat the tortillas in a pan, remove and stack to keep warm
  8. Fill the tortillas with the mix and roll, arrange on a plate to serve
  9. If you like things hot and spicy add some Tabasco before rolling
  10. If you like cilantro, add some chopped and fresh organic cilantro before rolling (recommended)

Ingredients for the Sweet Tomato Chutney

You can buy the Chutney pre-made, but it’s really fun to make and it’s always more natural and healthy homemade because it does not have any preservatives and you can rest assure it’s organic.

  • 1 medium red onion, brunoised
  • 1 large clove of garlic, brunoised
  • 1 or 2 chili’s depending on how hot you like it.  Remove seeds if you do not like it hot as the heat comes from the seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 clove
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, brunoised
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 4 chopped tomato’s
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of white vinegar

Method for the Chutney

Finished Dish

  1. Toast the seeds and grind them together in a mortar and pestle
  2. Sauté the onions, ginger, chili’s and garlic until transparent and golden
  3. Add the toasted and ground seeds
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low until it has been reduced to something similar to a marmalade
  5. Turn heat off and set aside when done

Equivalents, replacements and conversions

  • For a dairy free version replace the sour cream with Tofutti’s Sour Supreme.
  • Light sour cream can be replaced with regular sour cream for those who do not need the low fat version.  For those in Latin America you can replace sour cream with Mendicrim or CasanCrem (a white spreadable cheese), light versions are available.
  • Whole wheat, vegetarian tortillas can be replaced with regular tortillas or corn for those that desire a gluten free version.  You can also try some of that fancy, gourmet, flavored tortillas.  They have flavors such as bell pepper, sun dried tomato, etc.

Enjoy!

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