We all know Omega-3s are supposed to be good for us. Omega-3s help reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, protects us from heart attacks, reduces blood pressure, decreases triglyceride levels, and increases HDL (good) cholesterol.

But did you know that Omega-3s can also help our brains (reduces depression and risk for Alzheimer’s), strengthen’s our immune systems and eye health by reducing the risk of macular degeneration? And that is just for starters.

Omega-6 is the other essential fatty acids humans need, but can not synthesis. We must get these nutrients from foods, and according to http://www.thebetterfish.com, the average American diet is deficient in Omega-3 rich foods and has more than 10 times the proper amount of Omega-6. With diets of mostly corn and other grains, many farm raised fish often have very high (and potentially unhealthy) levels of Omega-6 fatty acids and almost no Omega-3’s. Some Omega 6s can cause inflammation, bowel issues, arthritis and some cancers. But what is the perfect balance?

Research scientists recommend a ratio of between one-to-one (1:1) and four-to-one (4:1) of Omega-6 to Omega-3 levels as being optimal in foods.

Salmon – the go to for Omega-3s – has an Omega-3:Omega-6 ratio of 20:1. Tilapia and Catfish have an 1:11 ratio. Barramundi, a fish I was fortunate enough to try at the New England Food Show last weekend, offers the ideal ratio of 1:1, so it is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. And for those of you that are not fond of salmon for its strong flavor, Barramundi offers a very mild, almost sweet flavor in a white fish with large flake – think Chilean Sea Bass. It will take on the flavor of what you add, and is available locally. So break out of the salmon rut, revisit Omega-3s, and let’s not forget that most fish is low in saturated fat, salt, cholesterol and high in protein. Need some recipe ideas? Check out http://www.thebetterfish.com/ for some great recipes, and live healthy!
Bon appetit!

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Tart or torte?

March 7, 2011

It is time for dessert…..you are in a fancy restaurant, trying to appear worldly to your dinner mate, and you are asked to choose from a lemon tart and a chocolate torte. Which do you order?

If you like pie, you order the tart, which is a small pastry shell, usually very low sided, baked in a spring form pan, and typically filled with a custard type filling topped with fruit, or a chewy nut filling and/or whipped cream. Fruit tarts are often glazed with jam, to make it shiny and really pretty. Lemon tart is common with a lemon curd style filling. All are single crust, low profile. Pies are taller, and typically have two crusts, in case you were wondering…..

Tarts can also be savory, as in a tomato and cheese tart….but this is a conversation about dessert today.

A torte is a cake made primarily with eggs, sugar, and ground nuts instead of flour, served in one layer, unfrosted, and can also be a savory dish (see above). Chocolate torte can be a very thin multilayer loaf shaped cake, still nut based, usually filled with very rich, decadent flavored. It is baked in a special pan – think very tall, thinner loaf pan- and sliced into many layers. Then each layer is filled with a cream, curd or jam type of filling. These cakes are not frosted, but may be dusted with powder sugar or cocoa. But you are saying – hey, what about a Linzer Torte? That yummy jammed filled cookie? How does that fit in? Well it is a nut based dough, cut into a shape and then filled….so a variation on the cake version of a nut based dough.

Confused yet? Well think back to high school logic – Tart is to Torte as Pie is to cake. Better? Heck whichever you choose, eat dessert first. Dinner is so much easier…..