I’ve loved clams ever since I was a little kid. My dad would take us to Coney Island and we’d eat them on the half shell with hot sauce and lemon. We’d go to the beach with my grand parents and learn to hunt for clams then go to their house on Long Island and have them on the grill (the clams — not my grand parents).
When I was in the Navy stationed in Rhode Island we had freshly shucked, breaded, and fried clam strips and home-made New England Clam Chowder that was a million times better than anything you could get in a box or out of a can.
And I had a friend from Maine who made the absolute best clam dip on the planet (try finding clam dip in a supermarket these days).
Oh, I forget to mention that Linguine and Clam Sauce is a staple in the Bonay household.
As I got older I stopped eating raw clams (partly because I had an “un-clam” related Diverticulitis scare and I’d rather err on the side of caution) but I’ve learned that clams from certified sources, and that are cooked, can be a part of a healthy diet.
The benefits, it seems, out weigh the risks. Consider the following;
- Clams are an excellent source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in keeping the central nervous system functioning properly.
- It has been used to combat asthma in children, HIV in adults, and Alzheimers disease in the elderly.
- It also increases sperm count, quality, and motility (makes the little fishes swim faster). B12 is often used to treat male infertility. Maybe that’s why I have 4 beautiful children and 8 amazing grand kids.
OK, let’s take a look at the top ten;
Vitamin B12 also plays a role in the production of Serotonin which, studies have shown, may help relieve depression in the elderly.
B12 also contributes to the production of Melatonin which is a natural hormone that helps us to get a good night sleep. The older we get the less efficient we are at producing Melatonin so a little extra B12 will help older adults sleep better.
The garlic, ginger, chile paste, carrot, radishes, scallions, and the mixed greens also provide a bounty of health benefits.
In addition to vitamin B12, clams are rich in many other important nutrients. Here’s a list of nutrients found in clams and the benefits they provide:
- Clams are an excellent source of Iron which guards against anemia
- Good source of Selenium which helps fight arthritis
- Provides Protein which helps keep the immune system working properly
- Supplies the trace mineral Manganese which helps regulate blood sugar levels
- Good source of Vitamin C which speeds the wound healing process and is important for healthy teeth and gums
- Contains Copper which keeps the thyroid in great shape
- Supplies Riboflavin for healthy skin
- Provides Zinc which can help prevent osteoporosis
- Good source of Potassium which can help stabilize blood pressure
I’ll get to the rest shortly but first here’s a short story about Clam Hunting you might enjoy;
“Hand harvesting wild clams under the glow of a full moon can be a pleasantly primitive experience. As sunset approaches, my wife, Margaree, and I seek out the most secluded parts of the beach where we embark on our clam hunt like ancient tropical island villagers. First, I go about selecting a hefty, grapefruit sized rock, which will be used to locate the clams, while Margaree collects porcelain like seashells that will be used for digging up the clams (just like, we imagine, our ancestors did).
Next, we take our places along the shoreline sharing in the knowledge of primitive clam harvesters, that the biggest and most succulent clams are often found buried in the moist sand along the shoreline. Then, like a speechless man-ape, I stand in ankle deep water, my toes dug into the sand beneath me, waiting for the tide to begin to recede. At that moment, I lift the heavy rock above my head and just when the ocean water has cleared my feet, I release the weighty boulder away from my body. As the primitive tool lands with an impressive thud we spot a miniature geyser erupt from the smooth tightly packed sand as the frightened clam (just like its crustacean ancestors had done hundreds, even thousands of years ago) spits water into the sky.
Before you know it, Margaree, like a wild, famished, banshee-girl, is at the spot digging furiously with the seashell. Seconds later, the exposed hopeless clam, trapped and with no place to escape, is extracted from the hole and placed in a bag. We exchange a quick triumphant glance before repeating this simple, aboriginal act under the light of the ageless moon, not stopping until we have gathered enough clams for an unsophisticated meal before a crudely built fire under a night sky filled with faded, prehistoric stars.”
“Clear clam chowder originated along Rhode Island’s thrifty southern coast, where it is, for some, a delicacy preferred over all other versions. Eating Rhode Island clam chowder recalls the feeling of pulling into Block Island after a long day at sea, tired and scented with salt spray.” ~ Sam Sifton, NY Times Magazine
“I can teach a chimp how to make linguine and clams. I can’t teach a chimp to dream about it and think about how great it is.” ~ Mario Batali
to be continued…
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