Seaweeds are algae, and they are the richest natural source of minerals and trace minerals on earth. All the minerals found in the sea are also found in sea vegetables. They are an excellent source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, sodium, iodine, manganese, copper, chromium, zinc, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, and contain considerable amounts of fiber and protein. Seaweeds also contain lignans which are known to protect against cancer. Sea vegetables protect against radiation and heavy metals and are also used in many different types of beauty products as they promote soft skin and prevent hair loss.
Seaweeds have been harvested by humans for thousands of years. We tend to associate eating seaweed with Asian countries but many countries around the world have rich traditions of harvesting seaweed, from Ireland and Wales to Norway, Iceland, New Zealand and many Pacific Islands.
It is important to buy organic seaweeds from clean waters as they have an ability to absorb toxins in the water. We like to buy our seaweed from reputable health food stores.
There are many ways to enjoy sea vegetables:
- Use nori sheets as an alternative to bread. You can wrap just about anything up in them, see below in the recipe section for some ideas.
- Keep a small container of kelp, nori or dulse flakes (or a mix of all three!) in your kitchen and use it as an alternative to salt.
- Add soaked arame or wakame to salads, soups, stir-frys or roasted vegetables
- Add kombu to the water when you are cooking beans as it helps to reduce gas and will also speed up the cooking time.
- Keep the soak water if you are soaking arame, wakame or other seaweeds and add it to soups to make a rich broth or just drink it. Don’t throw it away as it is full of healthy minerals and vitamins!
- You can also “sneak” sea vegetables into pureed foods, like pureed soups, hummous or veggie burgers and your friends and family won’t even know they are eating it!
Here is a brief description of the nutritional properties of different seaweeds:
Nori or laver: Nori is rich in iodine, iron, vitamins C and A, potassium, magnesium, selenium and B2. Nori is used to treat ulcers, it lowers cholesterol and has anti cancer and anti blood coagulating properties. It is usually sold as flat sheets but can also be found as flakes.
Wakame: Wakame contains fucoxanthin which helps to boost metabolism. As well as stimulating the liver and reducing cholesterol, it is also high in EPA, an essential fatty acid.
Kelp or Kombu: Kelp, also known as bladderwrack, is known for its immune-enhancing properties and is a good source of iron, iodine, magnesium and folate.
Arame: Arame, another of our favourites, is a type of kelp. Like other sea vegetables, it is high in iodine, calcium, iron, vitamin A, niacin, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, zinc and protein. It is the mildest tasting of all the sea vegetables so a good one to start out with if you are a seaweed novice!
Dulse: Dulse is a good source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, iodine, manganese, chromium, zinc, betacarotene (which the body uses to manufacture Vitamin A) and several of the B vitamins. It also contains as much as 20% protein!
And here are a few of our favourite recipes using seaweed:
Cucumber and Wakame Salad
Here we bring you a healthier version of this traditional Japanese salad, by using apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar, raw agave syrup instead of sugar, and sea salt or rock salt instead of table salt!
- 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp agave syrup
- 4 tbsp lightly toasted sesame seeds on very low hot, for a few minutes only
- 1 cucumber sliced finely
- 1 cup wakame soaked, rinsed and drained
- very small pinch of sea salt or rock salt
Mix the first 3 ingredients, then add the cucumber and seaweed.
- 1/2 cup arame, soaked, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup finely grated carrot
- 1 small piece of finely grated ginger, when you add it, squeeze the grated pieces in order to add only the ginger juice
- 4-5 T soaked sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp cold pressed sesame oil or olive oil
- dash of tamari or good quality soy sauce
- squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar
Optional additions: steamed broccoli, green beans, squash, or any other veggie that strikes your fancy!
Combine all ingredients together and enjoy with brown rice, millet or quinoa for a super satisfying and protein-packed meal!
Here are some ideas for things to wrap in a nori sheet. The sky is truly the limit with what you can wrap in one of these delicious sheets of seaweed!
- Avocado, brown rice, sprouts, green salad, olive oil and a squeeze of lime
- Quinoa (cooked or sprouted), steamed broccoli, sunflower seeds, fresh coriander, and tahini dressing
- Brown rice, steamed veggies with your choice of dressing
- Hummous, lettuce, sprouts and dulse flakes
- Steamed or roasted sweet potato or squash, sunflower seeds, diced avocado, soaked arame, olive oil and apple cider vinegar
- Fish, (from a sustainable source!), steamed veggies or salad, squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of tamari