Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seaworthy Veggies

Getting Our Marine Greens

Those of us living away from the seaside can find many different types of seaweeds available in natural food stores and Asian markets. For their high nutrient value they are relatively lightweight and can be transported and stored in dried form. Great ones to try include arame, spirulina, dulse and wakame. Each seaweed will have its own unique flavor, color, texture, nutrient profile and saltiness. These varied characteristics make sea veggies a fun "food group" to add to soups, stews, rice, legume and vegetable dishes. The sodium in sea vegetables is balanced by a host of other trace minerals, including iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium and selenium, that we require for optimal health. Seaweeds also supply a good proportion of B-vitamins and folic acid, beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin K. Sea veggies are made up of about 25% carbohydrate and 25%-50% protein, with a trace amount of fats. Sea algae provide a non-fish source of the essential fatty acid, DHA (docosahexanoic acid).

Wondering how to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet? Here are a few fun ways to get your marine greens:
  • Soak dried seaweeds, such as stringy arame, in water for a few minutes until they soften and plump up. Then add to cooked dishes or sweet-vinagery salads.
  • Pulverize dried seaweeds in your blender by simply tearing them into smaller chunks and blending (dry) on medium to high setting. About 4-5 sheets of the typical 8"x10"-ish size sold for rolling sushi will fill a spice jar when pulverized into shakeable flakes. Shake these onto foods as a tasty garnish and a salt alternative.
  • Mix a few teaspoons of dried sea veggies like chlorella or spirulina into your breakfast smoothie or post-workout protein shake. They give a "green" boost and go great with fresh or frozen fruit blends.
  • Use sheet seaweeds as wraps for noodles, veggies, rice, beans or meats, and turn dinner leftovers into nifty next-day lunches.
For more sea veggie recipe ideas and info, check out my favorite healthy cookbook, "Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook" by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre (featured in my Book Club).

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