Loving the BITE: Thai Seared Scallops
This week, we’ll focus on a food that combines the nutrients needed to deliver on all these promises. It’s not a magic potion or a gimmick. It’s simply a Loving The Bite nutrient-loaded superfood from the sea.
Recipe of the Week: Thai Seared Scallops
- 8-10 medium OR 4-5 large sea scallops
- 2 Tbsp. organic coconut oil for frying
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 Tbsp. organic coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce (available in tall bottles at Asian/Chinese food stores)
- juice of 1/2 lime
- handful of fresh coriander, chopped
- 1-2 fresh red chilies, minced or 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 Tbsp. coconut milk
- Fresh greens and lime wedges for serving
- Rinse scallops and pat dry. Place on a clean, dry surface.
- Warm a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat (allow pan to warm up at least 1 minute). While the pan is heating, use a paper towel to gently dab any remaining moisture from the scallops. Tip: The scallops must be very dry before frying in order to achieve a good sear.
- Add 2 Tbsp. oil to the wok (or frying pan) and swirl around.
- Gently place the scallops in the pan, leaving space between them. Allow the scallops to cook undisturbed for at least 2 minutes (small-medium scallops) or 3-4 minutes (large scallops). While scallops are cooking, season with a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Meanwhile, place all sauce ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat-high. Stirring occasionally, warm the sauce for 1-2 minutes only – just long enough to bring out the flavor of the garlic and turn the fresh chili bright red. Avoid over-cooking the sauce.
- Gently turn the scallops to other side. Season once more with salt and pepper and cook for the same amount of time as 1st side – scallops are done when both sides have a nice crispy-looking crust and are firm to the touch. They should also ‘open’ slightly, as though they are going to flake.
- Remove scallops from the wok/pan and place on paper towel to drain.
- When sauce is done, remove from heat.
- Place the scallops on a bed of greens and spoon the sauce over them. Add lime wedges on side.
How can scallops improve your mood, cardiovascular system, brain, and lungs? Look no further than their combo of minerals, vitamins, and of course, omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, when you eat scallops, you:
Improve Heart Rate Variability (HRV, a direct measure of heart muscle function) in as little as 3 weeks! The omega-3 fatty acids found in scallops and other fatty fish, DHA and EPA, increase HRV and reduce risk of arrhythmias and sudden death. Studies show a quick improvement with 2 grams of DHA and EPA per day (in combo). Since every ounce of cooked scallops delivers ~100 mg DHA/EPA (0.1 grams), I recommend 12 oz. of scallops or another fatty fish/seafood each week + 1-2 gram of DHA/EPA from a fish oil supplement each day.
Reduce homocysteine in your body. Why is this important? Homocysteine is associated with an increased risk for atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. What’s more, it directly damages blood vessel walls. Scallops contain plenty of vitamin B12, a vitamin that busts up homocystine and converts it into harmless chemicals in the blood stream. Beyond the heart, the B12 from scallops protects against colon cancer and colorectal cancer!
Reduce chronic inflammation with omega-3 fatty acids. Each week, it seems, we discuss cellular inflammation in the body. It’s this inflammation that is associated with most all chronic diseases. It increases with sedentary lifestyles and poor food choices. It decreases with anti-inflammatory fats such as omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as scallops.
Promote healthy blood pressure with potassium and magnesium. Magnesium serves to relax blood vessels, and potassium normalizes blood pressure levels. Combine this with increased heart rates from a good ride, and you can keep your vessels elastic and healthy year after year.
Reduce risk of stroke. Eating fatty fish, or a fish oil supplement 2-4 times per week can reduce stroke risk by 18% compared to eating it 0-1 times per month. And, if you increase it to 5 or more times per week, you’ll decrease your risk by 31%! What’s more, daily fish or fish oil consumers can decrease risk of developing coronary heart disease by 37%, and risk of heart attack by 56%. Add to it cardiovascular training on your bike, and you’ve got a great plan for lifelong heart health!
And for the brain, omega-3s protect against Alzheimer’s and congnitive decline as we age (at just ~400 mg DHA/EPA per day!). In fact, there’s a strong association between high blood pressure, high “bad” cholesterol levels, low blood DHA/EPA and cognitive decline in studies. To protect against Alzheimer’s, omega-3s promote a good blood supply to the brain, reduce inflammatory compounds associated with mental decline, increase electrical transmission signals in the brain, slow the deposition of proteins that increase the brains lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and destroy Alzheimer’s brain plaques. We all know cyclists are highly intelligent, and now we can eat scallops to keep us that way.
And, if all of this doesn’t make you happy, high levels of omega-3s can decrease depression symptoms and protect against it. This week, let’s add scallops to the menu and reap benefits on and off the bike. I’m feeling smarter, happier, and stronger already.
Be sure to drop in next Thursday for my Super Bowl menu post that is sure to satisfy all you Football fans out there.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.