Monday, August 8, 2016

Clams and Vitamin B12 for Brain Health

I really enjoy seafood, all kinds of fish, shellfish, and bivalves. I'm careful to purchase seafood that is sustainable, pole caught or caught/fished in an environmentally friendly manner. The Monterey Bay Aquarium seafood watch app is my go to guide when I'm at the fish market purchasing my seafood.

There are all kinds of health benefits from eating seafood. Clams (along with mussels, sardines, crab, trout, and wild salmon) are high in Vitamin B12, an essential vitamin for brain health and healthy nerve cells. B12 is also absorbed and concentrated in animals (beef liver is an excellent source). If you are vegan or vegetarian it is important to take a B12 supplement. (FYI, the body can store B12 and you could go a couple years without supplementation before you start to notice symptoms of deficiency. Click here for more info for vegan and vegetarians. This article from the University of  Maryland Medical Center describes symptoms of deficiency, food sources of B12, and supplementation information. It is important to talk to your regular physician, a doctor of Naturopathy,  or dietician expert about supplementation; do not try and supplement on your own.

One of my favorite ways to get Vitamin B12 is by eating clams. Here is my go to recipe:

Clams Steamed in White Wine with Garlic and Shallots 
Serves 2-3 as main meal

3 pounds clams (if collected in the wild they need to be purged/cleaned and degritted -click here for more info).
2 small shallots, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is good; California style with lemon and citrus notes works well)
Chopped fresh parsley
Fresh crusty bread

If you purchased your clams from a seafood market, chances are the distributor has already purged the clams and they are ready for cooking. I buy and cook my shellfish on the same day so I don't have to worry about keeping them alive for very long. For info about storing click here.

Rinse clams under cold water and place in a colander.
Heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté shallots and garlic about a minute.
Pour in white wine. Boil until you have half of the volume, about 1/2 cup.
Add clams, cover and steam and until they start to open, about 5 minutes or so.
Add butter, cover, and cook until most or all of the clams open (another minute or so). Discard any that do not open. 
Sprinkle with parsley. 
Our family tends to just pull from the pot on the table (so they and the broth stay nice and hot).

 I serve mine with warm crusty bread, a green salad/Caesar salad, and fresh corn on the cob. It is summer after all!