On a quiet, cold January day recently, I had lunch with another raw food chef, my friend Jodi, who lives in the same city that I do. While I do more health coaching with my raw food preparation, she is venturing out into the land of preparing gourmet meals for people who want food delivered to them, and some catering.
We enjoyed a great lunch together. I made some pesto-stuffed mushrooms and some cashew-macadamia nut cheese – “mozzarella” – to go with some wonderful onion bread that I had made earlier in the week. Jodi brought some nori crisps topped with a great tahini dressing, some chaca tea, and a fabulous kelp noodle salad. We feasted! While it was all very fine food, the kelp noodle salad was a big treat. Other than being very delicious, I was happy to be eating a good quantity of a sea vegetable, which I don’t do as often as I might.
Why would I care about eating a sea vegetable? you may ask. What’s so good about eating seaweed?
Let’s start with how good a food we’re talking about. Nutrition-wise, seaweed, in any of its many varieties, is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. It contains dietary fiber, essential amino acids, vitamins A, B, C, and E, Omega-3 fats, and minerals such as iodine, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. All of these nutrients combine to reduce inflammation, lift your energy, maintain strong bones and teeth, support thyroid health and hormonal balance, and even reduce the risk of cancer.
Wow! It’s no wonder that seaweed has been a staple in Asian cuisine for centuries!
In recent years some concern has been raised questioning the potential of seaweed to be a harmful food due to the increasing pollution of our oceans. However, there has not been any evidence to support this concern, despite ongoing testing. Still, it’s smart to seek out good quality products, and look for brands of seaweed that are grown in sustainable ways and in pure or tested waters.
All right then, eating seaweed is a good idea, so how do we eat it?
Seaweed has not yet risen to the same level of popularity as a superfood like kale or other dark leafy greens, but it’s versatile and easy to prepare – the easier to woo you with as you get to know it better.
It is lightweight and easy to pack, yet is also nutritious and surprisingly filling. It’s the perfect thing to throw into your bag for a quick snack t work or on the go. It even packs well in a suitcase for those times when you travel and know eating healthy, whole foods may be a challenge.
Enhance your smoothies with spirulina. Powdered spirulina is a great source of natural protein, making it a morning pre- or post-workout favorite among health seekers and smoothie-lovers alike. Spirulina has a big personality, so start with just a teaspoon added to your favorite green smoothie, and then adjust the amount as you get used to it. (It goes especially well with avocado, banana, or pineapple.)
Add a dash of seaweed flakes to every meal. Health food stores or Asian markets will have a variety of packaged salts and seasoning that include seaweed. You can also make your own by combining fine-chopped or ground nori, kombu, dulse, sea salt, black pepper, and sesame seeds. Keep this mixture right along with your most frequently used seasonings and sprinkle it over daily meals. Then invent other fine gourmet seaweed seasonings yourself!
Stir it into your salad dressing. Sprinkle some powdered seaweed into any salad dressing you’re using. Allow it to sit for a minute to mix and absorb, shake well, then toss into your salad.
Toss together a seaweed salad. Wakame and arame are best for salads made predominantly of seaweed. Combine with vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and scallions. You can also add other vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, or radishes. Experiment to find your favorite combination and share it as a unique side dish at your next potluck.
These are just a few ways to begin to get seaweed with it’s very important nutrient package into your body. Once you get used to shopping for it and working with it, you’ll be glad to have added it to your menu repertoire. Enjoy!