Before you dismiss the possibility of ever consuming seaweed, consider this: Most of you probably eat processed sea vegetables every day. They’re used as thickeners and stabilizers in a variety of packaged foods. But the greener, more nutritious, and certainly most delicious way to indulge in seaweed is in its unprocessed form. We’re talking about safely edible marine algae found on or near ocean shores that can be a valuable source of a wide array of nutrients. Sea vegetables are believed to be detoxifying and beneficial to the thyroid. In a Macrobiotic lifestyle, they are used to “cleanse the lymphatic system, stimulate stagnant liver energy, alkalize the blood.” In fact, their concentrated nutrient profile has led to the suggestion that sea vegetables only be consumed in relatively small quantities.
8 Ways to Get By With a Little Kelp From Your Friends (along with a couple of recipes that the tide brought in):
1. Agar Agar
As Sara Novak tells us, agar agar is “a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed, which can be used as a vegetarian gelatin substitute or a thickener for vegan dishes.” Low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and high in folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin K, zinc, and copper, agar agar is so nice they named it twice.
A very salty seaweed, dulse is often used as a salt substitute in soups and stews. It can also be eaten raw (like jerky). Dulse has been harvested as an iron-rich food source for thousands of years.
If you’re cooking for someone likely to be skeptical about seaweed, the mild flavor of hijiki is a good choice to be surreptitiously snuck into a soup or stew. The calcium and iron-rich hijiki is also cost-efficient as it quadruples in size when rehydrated. Try this Hijiki and Wild Rice recipe.
This sea veggie is rich in carotene, iodine, chromium, and is also known for thyroid stimulation and its cleansing capabilities. “It can be used as a part of weight loss and it’s also great for your skin balance and smoothness,” says Sara Novak. Other claims about kelp’s magic? It has libido-boosting properties, can hydrate the skin in a nourishing seaweed spa bath, and can be used in part of a diet to combat hair loss naturally. For eating kelp, try it in this Soba Noodles with Kelp recipe.
Whether you buy it fresh, dried, pickled, or frozen, Kombu remains rich in iodine, dietary fiber, iron, and potassium. Actually a form of kelp, kombu is used to support the thyroid, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and prevent a sudden rise of the blood sugar level.
Usually encountered in the thin dark sheets used to make sushi, nori is probably the most familiar seaweed used in Western cuisine. The original plant is typically dark purplish-black, but when toasted, nori turns green and acquires a nutty flavor. Use it in this California Reverse Roll Sushi recipe. And if you have a dog, try sharing some nori with her, as it is one of the ten safe “people foods” for dogs.
Thin and stringy, wakame is deep green in color and used in making seaweed salad and miso soup. A good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, and Manganese, wakame is popular among those following a raw food or Macrobiotic lifestyle.
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By Mickey Z, Planet Green
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