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Hey, Big Tuna

Posted Jan 25 2011 2:10pm

Anyone that watches “The Office” will understand my title ;-)

How is everyone today?? So glad you all liked my Raw Vegan Almond Butter Dough Balls yesterday! Please let me know if you try them! They are super easy to make! Also, thank you for such sweet comments in general. You all are so amazing. Since I have gotten pregnant, you have had such kind, supportive words to say throughout this journey. To hear that I am even a little bit of an inspiration to a few people out there is the reason that I blog :-)

Today I want to talk about tuna. Mercury. And pregnancy. Briefly…maybe…because I have lots of chores to do today ;-)

As I type..I am enjoying a delicious tuna fish wrap. TUNA….while PREGNANT, you may ask?!! Yes, I am eating tuna.

First off, I want to say. My decision to go vegetarian, AGAIN, last year had me learn a lot about my body. I even tried going vegan for a few months. It just wasn’t for me. I was not fully satisfied. I DO eat MOSTLY a plant-based diet. I don’t think I could EVER go back to eating chicken, steak or turkey ever again (I have not eaten pork since I was 12). However, adding a little fish back into my diet infrequently made me feel much better, and it made things easier with my marriage because going out to eat on the weekend is something VERY important to Michael. Before we met, I could care less about going out to eat. I actually hated it because I never trusted restaurants. I knew how I made things.I knew they were healthier. But, it’s a sacrifice I made…and I enjoy it more now. My relationship with food has changed and that anxiety of going out to eat is no longer there.  The other issue is though, do I start loading up on vegetarian meals at restaurants all the time, which are not always made very healthy? Or do I choose to eat grilled fish and steamed veggies? I live outside of Philadelphia. There are not many “healthy” restaurants around here, unlike California. So I do not have many options.

Not to get too much off track…my point is, that it was easier for me to still incorporate fish into my diet. Also, once I got pregnant. Everything changed. My needs changed. Even though my relationship with food up to that point was a thousand times better than it was in my past. It became even more prevalent to me HOW important it is to nourish your body. To give it the nutrients it needs. You are growing another life inside of you. The other point I want to make is….if you can care so much for another life, then why can’t you care for yourself just as well? I feel that I have been caring for my body before…but I think I took it to another level once that stick had 2 lines on it.

Back to tuna. It’s weird. I gave up eating tuna fish all together a few years ago when I started to get really freaked out about mercury in fish. The rule of thumb is: the bigger the fish, the higher the mercury. Tuna is a very large fish. When we got married two years ago, I was NOT ready to have a baby. However, I knew it would be happening in the next few years, so I made a decision to really watch my diet as far as fish goes. I believe EVERYONE should be aware of the mercury content of fish, and make sure they either avoid the ones with the highest content, or eat them in moderation. But, I believe women of child bearing ages should ESPECIALLY be aware. So, the extremist that I was (can be), I decided..NO tuna, NO swordfish, NO Chilean Sea Bass, NO Grouper and so on. I cut it all out.

When Michael and I went to my first doctors appointment, my doctor started going over things with me about the pregnancy in general. He pretty much said there were no food restrictions, except….and I just about cut him off to name all the fish I knew had high mercury content. He actually said to me to just avoid shark, king makeral, and a few others I named above. However, tuna was OK. To just not eat a whole “room full of” tuna. To eat it in moderation. Good thing, because for some reason, I was REALLY craving a tuna sandwich. Weird. I always knew that the chunk light tuna was MUCH lower in mercury than the albacore tuna. I was also not running to eat any sushi grade tuna. That is a no-no in my book, even if someone told me it was OK. Raw fish was restricted because of the potential of pathogens. Anyway, even though my doctor assured me I could eat as much fish as I want…as long as it wasn’t 3 times a day, every day. I wanted to look into it.


Here is what I got from American

Highest Mercury AVOID Eating



Orange roughy




Mackerel (king)

High Mercury Eat no more than three 6-oz servings per month

Bass saltwater



Tuna (canned, white albacore) See tuna chart below

Tuna (fresh bluefin, ahi)

Sea trout


Lobster (American/Maine)

LOWER MERCURY Eat no more than six 6-oz servings per month


Mahi Mahi

Crab (dungeness)


Crab (blue)


Crab (snow)


Perch (freshwater)



Tuna (canned, chunk light)

Tuna (fresh Pacific albacore)

LOWEST MERCURY Enjoy two 6-oz servings per week



Calamari (squid)

Caviar (farmed)

Crab (king)




Perch (ocean)






Lobster (spiny/rock)










Sturgeon (farmed)

Trout (freshwater)

Chart obtained from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC); data obtained by the FDA and the EPA.

**Tuna mercury levels can be different based on the type of tuna and where it was caught. The NRDC created the chart  as a guideline to how much tuna can be eaten by children, pregnant women or women wanting to conceive, based on their weight. See it here .


According to them I could have chunk light  tuna 6 times a month, if I wanted to. I guess I feel there are still a lot of nutrients in some of fish for ME to avoid them. There are MANY women out there on a vegan diet, that have perfectly healthy babies. And perfect pregnancies! I admire those women very much. I just found it does not work for me. I try to eat mostly a plant based diet….with the addition of fish and some organic eggs. This is what works for me :-)

When I still lived at home I remember making KILLER tuna salad. I used to eat a lot of tuna….before I gave it up. This was back during my “high protein” phase. Tuna was one of my staples. I decided this week I was going to re-create that. Since I was really in the mood for it. Maybe it had something to do with Alisa posting this delicious recipe on her blog last week (that I still need to try). Or something else. Anyway, I needed to make a “low mercury” tuna salad for myself to enjoy :-)

Pregnancy- friendly

Tuna Fish Salad 1 can chunk light tuna

Veganaise (I eyeball it, I don’t like too much…almost dry)

1 T lemon juice

1 stalk diced celery

1 T fresh parsley, chopped

1 handful diced red pepper

1 handful shredded carrots

sea salt & black pepper, to taste

pinch of turmeric

Mix it all together and enjoy!

I added mine to a brown rice wrap with some organic mixed greens:

and I enjoyed it with about 1/3 bottle of this:

…and a couple of these:

Munchkin surprisingly does not go crazy for tuna. He would much rather have Michael’s grilled chicken. He was mad at me for forgetting his daily pic…so here it is for today ;-)

Enjoy the rest of your day!!!!


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