MARCH Feature Food: Oysters
By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC
Well, spring is in the air here in Victoria, though it may not be that way across the rest of N America, it’s still time to begin thinking about your garden. Because there’s no time like the present, and for us it comes faster than the East Coast. Whether you have a small garden bed, a few pots on the deck, a yard or a farm. Get those seeds germinating and that soil nourished and ready to go!
That’s all I have to say about gardens, I just thought I’d get you ready for next month. Now on to oysters… The reason I thought of oysters for this month’s article is because they’re nearing the end of their season and I still haven‘t touched on them. And in all honesty, because they’re my favourite recommendation for clients with zinc deficiencies; also for anyone who’s trying to become pregnant this spring! Spring makes me think of creation, beginnings, new desires, fresh eyes and clear minds, oh, and also, sexual desire. For all, or at least many, of those things, we need protein, zinc, iron, Omega 3’s, Vit C and B12 – ALL of which oysters are chalk full of!
I realize that there may be many of you who are allergic to shellfish or don’t have a taste for it. If that’s the case, don’t stop reading, simply learn and pass on the information to others who may love to know, they’ll appreciate your knowledge. And just because we can’t have something, doesn’t mean someone we love can’t enjoy it.
Great Date Food
I know Valentine’s day has come and gone, but I’d like to remind everyone that it’s important to appreciate our most loved and desired person any day of the year. So let’s start with increasing libido! Just to get your attention. We’ve all heard that oysters are great date food and that, after consumption we often want to jump into bed with our partners. But do we know why? Oysters are proven to increase testosterone and estrogen levels and are full of zinc, calcium, potassium and iron. All of which are essential nutrients to help increase the production of blood flow and healthy sperm count. The blood literally pumps through to our genitals increasing our desires, while the nutrients work to produce a great supply of active sperm and fertile eggs. Zinc is also known to help increase our sensory organs, thus making us want to taste, touch, see, hear and smell the pheromones of the ones we desire most.
A Zinc Powerhouse
On to the immune system – again, with the zinc. Oh how I love foods that contain zinc! There are so few, and many of us are deficient. Another factor that we should acknowledge about growing our own gardens this year, is that, with control over the quality of healthy soil that we can use and maintain, we can ensure our food is absorbing those essential minerals, we may not be getting from store bought foods. If you’re not growing your own garden and you live near the ocean, like us here on Vancouver Island, we have plenty of access to zinc rich sea foods, like oysters, clams, mussels and seaweeds.
Which leads me to my favorite point: OYSTERS have the highest zinc content than most other zinc rich foods. They are also rich in Vit C, protein and anti-oxidants, which are crucial for maintaining and improving our immune systems.
Brain and Skin Food (and so much more!)
Just to keep us moving through all that we feel so inspired to do this spring, we must fuel brain power. Well, oysters, my friends are of the sea and therefore full of Omega 3 fatty acids which are known to help support our nervous systems, decrease inflammation and help protect our cells from oxidative damage.
The protein found in oysters is also great for increasing collagen construction in our skin. Along with all the minerals, calcium, potassium and phosphorus, oysters are able to help in bone, tissue, ligament and muscle strengthening and building. Then add the high amount of iron found in oysters and you have a great supply of nutrients to support healthy blood flow, creating oxygen and power to fuel our cells and our minds.
Among the many other things that oysters are good for are: decreasing our risk of colon cancer, supporting our vision, lowering blood pressure, balancing cholesterol levels, decreasing inflammation, decreasing hormone related cancers.
‘Tis The Season
The fresh oyster season here is October-May. Many people eat more oysters in the summer months because they think of them more, while at beaches and on patios. Unfortunately, the summer months cause more chances of bacteria to form in shellfish. This is when the oysters are spawning. This warmth also causes the texture of the oysters to be chewier and less flavorful. Most people still follow the ‘ol time fisherman’s rule to never eat oysters in a month that ends with ‘r’. Most oyster connoisseurs still follow this rule, simply because they just taste better from cooler waters. Farmed oysters are available year round because they no longer spawn.
If you have a fishing licence in BC or know someone who does, you can collect your own oysters, straight off the beach. This is great fun to do with the kids!
Do your research: Note that eating oysters raw poses a risk to your health by possible Vibrio vulnificus contamination. This is a pathogen that can cause serious life threatening food poisoning. Avoid eating oysters out of season or at the time of Red Tide. If you’re at all concerned about the freshness or source of your oysters, take precautions and cook them before consumption.
Also, if this article does help any women out there become pregnant…be sure reduce your intake of oysters and other high mercury sea foods. Leave them to your much appreciated partners.
Grilled Oyster Recipe
If you choose not to eat your oysters raw, which is preferred by most when consuming those big suckers, this is a great recipe to try. Since spring is here (or almost here for our friends on the East Coast), it’s nearly time to dust off ‘ye ‘ol BBQ and grill some fresh oysters. If it’s still too cool outside wherever you are, use the cast iron pan instructions and place the oysters in your oven at 425°C.
- 12 live oysters
- ¼ cup of good quality vegetable oil
- 3-4 TBSP of butter, ghee or coconut butter
- 1 TBSP lemon or lime juice
- 1 small shallot, chopped fine
- ½ tsp chili or cayenne pepper (flaked or powdered)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 4-6 turns of fresh black pepper
- 2 tsp fresh chopped herbs (basil, cilantro or parsley work best)
- Heat the butter and shallots over medium/low heat in a small sauce pan for 5 minutes. Add all other ingredients, whisk together and remove from heat.
- If you have BBQ gloves, shuck the oysters, keep the liquor in the shell and add a small amount of sauce into each. Place steadily on the grill using your gloved hands.
- If you don’t have any gloves, make a bed of rice about 3 inches high (or any grain) at the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Open the oysters and balance them in the pan, spoon the sauce into each oyster and place onto the grill.
- Cook the oysters for 8-12 minutes, or until the ends begin to curl up. Some smaller ones may cook faster than the bigger ones.
- Let cool before gulping them down!