The Nutrition of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
I spend last weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland. If your geography skills are subpar, Scotland is north of England. Scotland, though still part of Britain and consequently the United Kingdom, Scotland is quite different from England. It is sort of like England’s Canada, in my opinion; cold, less people, but better food. The food is better; however the food in England is pretty bad, so better is still not good. Before I go into detail about one of my meals it is interesting to note that I went to a grocery store that charged me for a plastic bag. Not only was I charged but to locate one was a bit of a hassle. I did not have any complains though because I believe that all grocery stores should follow this example. It becomes much easier to bring your own bags than it is to dig out three cents and then locate a couple plastic bags somewhere in the store.
One meal that makes Scotland stand apart from England is their traditional Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Neeps is Scottish slang for turnips, which are mashed and served alongside tatties, or mashed potatoes. Haggis is where it gets interesting. Haggis is a combination of mashed heart, lung and liver, traditionally cooked in the lining of the animal’s stomach. Now that you have that image in your mind, let us dissect the meal’s nutritional value.
First, turnips are quite popular around Britain. They are a root vegetable similar to potatoes, the only difference is that they are a good source of vitamin C. Turnips also contain a surprising amount of fiber, though still not as much as leafy greens and other vegetables. Turnip is still considered a starch, as potatoes are, so it is not high in many other nutrients. Potatoes are nothing new to the American diet, but you may not know that potato skin is rich in quite a lot of nutrients including vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, copper, niacin, and potassium. The flesh alone does not contain nearly as many nutrients, but is still a relatively good source of vitamin B6.
Next: haggis. The first main component in haggis is liver. Liver is actually quite healthy. It is high in vitamin A, vitamin B12 and copper. Substantial quantities of other nutrients including the following are present in liver: riboflavin, folate, selenium, chromium, pantothenic acid, niacin, protein, vitamin B6 and niacin. Lung is a great source of selenium, protein and iron while also containing a moderate amount of vitamin C, vitamin B12, niacin, riboflavin and phosphorus. Heart is not as healthy to eat as you may have thought. It is low in protein and the only substantial nutrient is not surprisingly vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is found in all animal products, which is why it is not surprising that it is found in heart. Liver and lung are high in cholesterol so haggis should be eaten in moderation. A side salad or perhaps some green beans would be a great nutritional addition to this meal.
After pushing the thought of these ground organs cooked in an animal’s stomach lining from my mind, I decided I needed to try this odd phenomenon. I did so, and I would do it again. It tasted like ground beef and when you mixed the whole meal together, it is comparable to Sheppard’s pie. Traditionally served as such with the mashed potatoes, mashed turnip and haggis in three layers with some sort of sauce poured on top; I recommend this meal to anyone who travels to Scotland, as it is part of the whole tourist experience.
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