The Nutrition of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

May 24, 2013

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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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I'm sorry but as you may have all the nutritional facts down to a T. Haggis tastes nothing like ground beef whatsoever, even when mixed together with all the other traditional ingredients, Haggis is unlike any thing else. It is it's own product with it's own distinctive taste, texture and appearence. Also this traditional dish is eaten very rarely and only usualy eaten on 'Burns Night'.To the point you made about being charged for a plastic bag in the 'grocery store', this would have probably been in a supermarket of a Europen origin: you should mabye have tried a more traditional supermarket or farmers market where you could have purchased a better quality product that did not resemble ground beef and an untrue reflection of true Scottish Haggis.

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