Until recently, Americans have been mostly unaware of the benefits of sea vegetables as food. But archaeological evidence suggests that their consumption dates back to prehistoric times. Oceangoing cultures from Japan to Ireland have relied on a harvest from the sea that went far beyond fish.
And with good reason. These ocean-bred plants offer a unique array of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer activities. Sea vegetables' potency is ascribed to their powerful lineup of diverse minerals, resulting from their aqueous environment and harsh growing conditions. In fact, sea vegetables contain more minerals than any land-based food plant, and many of these are the same minerals found in human blood, which makes absorption a breeze.
Sea vegetables' antioxidant offerings extend beyond the standard carotenoids and flavonoids to several other types, including alkaloids. Of special interest are recent studies at the University of California indicating that sea vegetables may have a role to play in warding off certain estrogen-related cancers-especially breast cancer-through both their cholesterol-lowering effects and their ability to modify menstrual cycles.
Add in significant amounts of B vitamins, iodine, calcium, and vitamins C, E, and K, and it becomes apparent that sea vegetables are truly an underwater treasure.
Seaweed Salad with Lime-Sesame Dressing
This intriguing and nutritious salad pairs beautifully with a vegetarian Thai curry.
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 Tbs. white vinegar
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs. peanut oil
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. tamari soy sauce
1 tsp. sambal oelek (fresh chili paste) (optional)
1 25-gm. package SeaSnax SeaVegi Seaweed Salad Mix
1 large carrot, peeled & shredded
2 medium Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 cup Tuscan kale, shredded (about 5 small leaves)
1 scallion with green top, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- To Make Dressing: Pour ingredients in small jar. Shake vigorously to combine.
- To Make Salad: Soak seaweed salad mix in bowl of cold water, 7-10 minutes, or until supple. Drain, then wrap in paper towel to remove excess water.
- Combine mix with carrot, cucumber, kale, and scallion in large bowl. Add dressing, toss to coat well. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
PER SERVING: 84 cal; 2g pro; 5g total fat (1g sat fat); 10g carb; 0mg chol; 395mg sod; 1g fiber; 2g sugars
Wakame and Shiitake Miso Soup
A delicate soup that packs a nutritional wallop.
3 large shiitakes, stemmed & chopped
1 Tbs. orange olive oil
2 cups water
1 pinch Eden Wakame Flakes*
1 rounded Tbs. red miso paste
Thinly-sliced green scallion tops for garnish
- Sauté shiitakes in orange olive oil in small skillet until just cooked through. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
- Bring water to a boil in medium saucepan. Toss in wakame flakes, reduce heat, and simmer, 2 two minutes. Remove from heat, and add miso paste, whisking quickly. Stir in shiitakes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallion tops.
*These dried seaweed products can be found in Health Food Stores and most Whole Foods Markets.
PER SERVING: 98 cal; 2g pro; 7g total fat (1g sat fat); 7g carb; 0mg chol; 470mg sod; 1g fiber; 3g sugars
Wakame and Nori and Dulse-Oh My!
Your first encounter with the "seaweed section" at your health food store can be a tad daunting. Here are a few suggestions to make your journey worry-free:
Read The Package. They know you may be a novice; the package will often offer serving suggestions, and will always explain how to restore and/or enjoy those dried fronds.
Buy Organic. Sea vegetables absorb many of their excellent nutrients from their environment-and they can also absorb other less-desirable things from the surrounding seas. Be sure the product comes from safe waters.
Use Your Eyes. Make sure the package is tightly sealed, with no moisture present; the colors should be uniform and the fronds mold-free.