7 Ways to Eat More Seaweed

It’s rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and contains 14 times more calcium by weight than milk. It contains B12, a nutrient not usually found in vegetables, and it’s an extraordinary source of iodine. It’s such an incredible food that researchers from Oregon State University patented a new variety of it, hoping it becomes the superfood trend. So, what is this amazing food?

Seaweed.

Stay with me! I’m not talking about those gloopy, muddy messes down at the beach. I’m talking about umami-rich, salty, crunchy, delicious seaweed. If you’re like me and live in the U.S., seaweed isn’t a common ingredient found in most pantries, but it definitely should be. Sea vegetables are excellent sources of most minerals as well as vitamins A, B12, C, D, E, and K. Plus; seaweed adds umami—the fifth taste—to foods.

Seaweed is a member of the algae family where there are more than 145 different species of brown, red, and green varieties. One popular misconception about seaweed is that it is stinky-fishy tasting, but this is mostly untrue. When properly harvested, dried, and stored, the flavor of seaweed is more of a crisp, sea-like taste.

Before we take a look at some common varieties of seaweed, please note: If you live by water it might be tempting to head to the to beach and harvest your seaweed, but it isn’t recommended. Seaweed absorbs water, so it’s important to know the water quality first, and some freshwater varieties can be poisonous. A safer bet is to purchase seaweed at the market. If you do want to learn to harvest your own, please get in touch with a professional before foraging.

Common Types of Seaweed

You’ll find seaweed at well-stocked grocers or health food stores, as well as at local Asian or specialty markets. It’s available in many different types, but here are a few of the more common varieties you’ll spot:

  • Nori: By far the most popular seaweed, often found packaged as thin, iridescent-colored sheets or dried granules. Used in sushi, wraps, snacks, or dried as a seasoning.
  • Kombu: Grows in deep sea water. Typically sold in dry, hard sheets or powder form. Commonly used in soups or stocks.
  • Dulse: A red seaweed with a crisp, salty flavor. Sold in sheets or as dried granules that are used as a seasoning and sprinkled onto food.
  • Wakame: Grows in cool to cold sea water. Can be used in salads, soups, stir-fries, or as a seasoning.
  • Arame: A dark brown sea vegetable when fresh and a dark, blackish color when dried. Used in soups and salads, as well as a good substitution for wakame seaweed when needed.

In your search for seaweed in stores, you might also spot kelp. Kelp is the most nutritious of all seaweed but also has the strongest flavor. Because of this, it isn’t often cooked. Instead, you’ll find kelp in capsule or tablet form.

Seven Simple Seaweed Suggestions

The most common use for seaweed here in the U.S. is in sushi, but there are many uses for sea vegetables. If you aren’t a regular consumer of seaweed—but you want to be—you might need a few serving suggestions to get the seaweed party started.

Here are seven ways to add this superfood to your diet:

  1. Add seaweed to salads. Try this tasty Seaweed and Cucumber Salad that puts wakame seaweed and crunchy cucumbers together or this Chinese Seaweed Salad that mixes kombu with carrots and cilantro and topped with a spicy dressing. You can also sprinkle dried seaweed as a crunchy, salty topping.
  2. Make delicious bowls of soup. Seaweed can add a sophisticated layer of depth and umami to soups or stews as is the case in this 15-Minute Miso Soup with Greens & Tofu, or this deceptively simple yet flavorful Shiitake Mushroom Seaweed Soup.
  3. Enjoy vegan crab cakes. One of my favorite not-so-secret secrets to preparing vegan food that has the flavor of the sea is to use seaweed. These Vegan Crab Cakes use a blend of chickpeas and hearts of palm to replicate the texture of flaked crab, while spices and seaweed help to bring the familiar “crab” taste you’ve come to love in traditional crab cakes. Not a fan of hearts of palm? Try these Vegan Crab Cakes with Horseradish Dill Tartar Sauce that cleverly use artichoke hearts instead.
  4. Eat some mock tuna sandwiches. This simple Tempeh Tuna Sandwich filling, made in just 15 minutes, uses dulse flakes to add the familiar taste of tuna salad. Perfect for filling pitas or stuffed between your favorite slices of bread. Other options include using beans, as in this Chickpea of the Sea Salad.
  5. Stir up some stir-fry. Adding seaweed to stir-fries can be a tasty way to add a burst of nutrition. Not only that, you can choose from an endless amount of ingredient combinations. Ready to stir-fry? Try this ridiculously easy Temeph, Seaweed, and Peanut Stir-fry, or this spicier Kimchi Seaweed Stir-fry recipe.
  6. Put it in pasta. Admittedly, this one sounds a little weird. Seaweed pasta? Yes, absolutely! Seaweed can add a lovely, unexpected richness to pasta. Simmer up a pot of Seaweed Pasta in Tomato Sauce or perhaps try this Pasta with Seaweed-Matcha Butter & Vegan Scallops for a unique spin on pasta night.
  7. Snack on it. Sometimes simple is best and it can’t get much easier than snacking on straight seaweed. No, I’m not talking about the stuff you find at the beach, gross. I’m talking about thin sheets of seaweed that are lightly fried and salted. They’re yummy. You’ll be able to spot seaweed snacks in health food stores in the snack food aisle, but you can also make your own. Here’s a quick and straightforward recipe for Nori Chips to get you started.

These are just seven ways to add seaweed to your diet, but there are plenty of creative ways to sneak some into your food. Here are three more recipes that I thought were ingenious:

Related at Care2:

Do you enjoy seaweed or have a favorite recipe I didn’t mention? Share it in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

 

57 comments

heather g
heather gabout a month ago

I buy packs of Nori and when I occasionally visit a Japanese store in Vancouver, I buy some of the bright green seaweed in the first picture. I'm not that adventurous with their other foods.

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Teresa B. S
Teresa B. Sabout a month ago

Good evening and thank you for this article - good ideas to use when trying to get your family and friends to eat healthy food.I was growing up but just dumping a child with a huge amount of potatoes to peel is not fun so do not do this. It's essxential to include kids in the kitchen routine, so that they don't grow up to eat fast food, etc : http://onedaytop.com/pineapple-juice-helps-get-rid-cough/

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Ingrid H
Ingrid H1 months ago

thanks

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Cameron M.
Cameron M.2 months ago

You can also get your seaweed fix with Blue Evolution's line of seaweed infused pastas and seasoning at www.blueevolution.com

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Noted.

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mac C
mac C2 months ago

This is a nice guide to seaweed and which to use in what dish. The recipes look good. Thank you.

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Janet B
Janet B2 months ago

Thanks

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie2 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie2 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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