August: Clams. Ok, so I realise this is a bit of a weird food to have as my Food of the Month, but I have just returned from a week in Portugal where I ate my weight in them, so please indulge me. If you are going on holiday this summer, somewhere near the Mediterranean sea, then you just have to get stuck into a gorgeous plate of my favourite shellfish.
Clams, or ‘almejas’ in Spanish, which is how I more commonly know them, having spent every summer of my childhood in Andalucia, are shells with a small meaty flesh inside that you tip into your mouth. They are much smaller than mussels or oysters and not as fishy. The best bit about them though is how they are cooked when you eat them at one of the many wonderful seafood restaurants in the Med. Absolutely smothered in white wine and garlic. So if you are on a date, or hoping to get lucky, you might need to steer clear, because you do stink a bit after eating them!
We don’t get nearly enough fresh shellfish in this country which is such a terrible shame, not just for the flavour, but for the nutritional benefits as well. Which probably goes some way to explaining why the UK is a bit behind our European neighbours for overall health. Clams are great source of protein and Omega 3 fats which help to reduce inflammation and nourish our nervous system. They are also a very rich source of iron – higher even than a steak. They are also high in selenium which is a potent antioxidant and is also important for thyroid health and the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. Selenium can be quite difficult to obtain from other foods due to soil quality. Zinc is another mineral in which we are often deficient that can be obtained in high amounts from clams and other shellfish, which is important for the health of the immune system, reproductive system and bone health.
So if you are off to sunny seaside climes over the next few weeks, do enjoy a plate of delicious clams, with a crisp glass of white, and have one for me!