During the Second World War, mussels were eaten extensively across America when red meat like beef, lamb, and pork was reserved for the US military. This contributed to the rise in popularity of mussels across the States, but they have always been favored in Europe. Whether served steam-cooked in a white wine sauce, as they are in France and Belgium, or cooked in a tomato sauce Spanish-style, mussels are a versatile and delicious dish.
Mussels also offer a host of health benefits and are an excellent source of protein. For those looking to bulk up, mussels can give you muscles.
What Are Mussels?
Mussels are a type of mollusk from the shellfish family. Residing in saltwater and freshwater habitats, there are two common types: Blue mussels (sometimes referred to as black) and Greenshell mussels.
Saltwater mussels are edible, while freshwater mussels are tough in texture and do not taste very good — they’re better for our ecosystems than for consuming.
Are Mussels Good for Protein?
Protein is essential for regulating immune function and building muscle. After you eat protein, the body breaks it down into amino acids.
These amino acids help repair muscle fibers damaged during exercise and grow new ones, decreasing the recovery time between workouts.
Mussels are a rich source of protein.
Per 100g of steamed mussels, there is around 24g of protein, rivaling the protein levels found in red meat.
Mussel Nutrition: Facts
But that’s not all.
Mussels also contain high iron levels, vitamins A, B12, and omega-3, which contribute to brain function, heart health, and complexion.
And there are other ways you get muscles from mussels.
Protein and iron boost mood and energy levels, so you’re more likely to want to hit the gym when you’ve indulged in some mussels.
Mussels are also good for circulation — and when blood and oxygen flow continuously throughout the body, wounds heal faster, and the heart rate stays consistent.
So why not sub that steak for mussels?
Mussels are low in fat and great if you’re restricting your calorie intake, but that doesn’t mean you have to pass up on flavor. As mussels can be cooked by steaming or boiling, you only need to use a few herbs or white wine to prepare a meal that’s delicious and nutritious.
How to Prepare Fresh Mussels
We hear you. But how do you go about preparing these magical mussels?
Preparing mussels is pretty simple.
You can get them cleaned and ready to go from the store, but if you’re fortunate, you might have access to live mussels.
- For live mussels, soak them in seawater or one part salt, three parts water, and leave overnight in your refrigerator. This gets rid of the sand and grit inside.
- If your mussels are already cleaned, you’re good to go. Check the mussels are closed. If they are a little open, give them a gentle tap — if they don’t close, they’re bad. Throw them out. Also, throw away any that are damaged or cracked.
- It’s scrubbing time! Run your mussels under cold water, scrubbing with a stiff brush (a nail brush is good for this) to remove any barnacles. Pull away any seaweed/ tendrils from the sides of the mussel shells.
- Now, you’re ready to cook your mussels. Follow your chosen recipe and discard any shells that haven’t opened immediately.
- Bon Appetit!
Cooking with shellfish can be a joy. But don’t worry if you don’t have access to fresh mussels; frozen ones are just as delicious.
Partially cooked, cleaned, and quickly frozen in their juices, you won’t run the risk of getting sick with frozen mussels. Plus, they’re easy to eat straight away after a tiring workout. Whereas fresh mussels must be consumed within a day, frozen mussels can be stored and prepared whenever you want them!
You can enjoy mussels with pasta, in a tangy mussels marinara, or appreciate delectable mussel meat in a seafood paella. Check out some of our awesome seafood recipes and other benefits associated with seafood.