When passing through the whole foods deli, have you ever wondered what ingredients went into the hijiki salad or nori rolls? Did you wrinkle your nose at the seaweed salad or even think the kelp sautÃ© is a joke? It may surprise you but sea vegetables are one of the most nutrient-packed foods on the planet! Joshua Rosenthal, director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, wants you to take advantage of these sea-living super foods and gives you these delicious sea vegetable recipes to try.
Rosenthal, author of Integrative Nutrition: Feed your hunger for health and happiness, says sea vegetables have many health benefits including lowering cholesterol, improving digestion, weight loss, strengthening bones and teeth, and nourishing your skin, hair and nails.
“[Sea vegetables] are a highly concentrated source of minerals and contain a range of vitamins,” he explains. “They are versatile and can be added to soups, salads, stir-fries and desserts.”
Finding sea vegetables
You can find high-quality sea vegetables in health food stores and commercially harvested seaweeds are available in Asian markets. Rosenthal recommends sea vegetables that are grown wild and harvested from the ocean.
Types of Sea Vegetables
Not sure what sea vegetables to try? Here is a list describing their tastes and textures.
Arame: Mild, semisweet flavor and thin but firm texture. Great as a side dish, but especially yummy with buckwheat.
Hijiki: Robust in flavor and black in color. Hijiki is often tossed in salads.
Kombu: Light in flavor and chewy. Expands and softens when soaked. Excellent food tenderizer and helps with the digestibility of beans. Adds a sweet flavor to root vegetables. Creates wonderful stocks and stews.
Nori: Paper-thin, dark green sheets made from pressed sea vegetables. Nori has a flavor similar to tuna and was originally used as a sushi wrap. Nori flakes may be used as a flavorful condiment.
Dulse: Savory-tasting, brownish green colored stalks. Wonderful for roasting with seeds and as a condiment.
Wakame: Delicate, long, green strips. Wakame has a sweet flavor. When soaked, it expands a great deal, so cut it into small pieces. Wakame loves the company of carrots and parsnips and adds a sweet taste to legumes.
Soaking Sea Vegetables
According to Rosenthal, soaking sea vegetables will improve their digestibility, cooking time and taste.
1. Put sea vegetables in a bowl of cold water. Move your fingers through the stems.
2. Discard this water and rinse. Fill the bowl with cold water again and let sea vegetables stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
Note: You can use the water to nourish your houseplants or rinse your hair.
Sea Vegetable Recipes
The ingredients in the following recipes can be found in whole foods stores and the health food section of your local supermarket. These recipes may be adventurous for your tastes but be daring and nourish yourself with the healthiest vegetables on earth!
King-Fu Hijiki Salad
1 cup hijiki, soaked according to above directions
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh from the cob
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, shredded (use a garlic press)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger juice
Cook hijiki in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. Add hijiki and rest of ingredients to a large bowl and mix.
Note: Rosenthal says this recipe was Bruce Lee’s favorite meal.
Veggie Nori Rolls
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 sheets of toasted sushi nori
Minced avocado, cucumber, and carrot
Finely chopped daikon radish, cucumber, umeboshi paste, and sesame seeds
Chopped mango and avocado
Nut butter and sauerkraut
Finely chopped salmon and avocado
1. Lay rice out on a baking sheet and top with vinegar, rice syrup and salt. Mix well and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Lay a sheet of nori on a dry cutting board or sushi rolling mat. Put a thin layer of rice on the half of the nori sheet closest to you. Layer 2 to 3 rows of fillings of your choice on the rice at the end closest to you.
3. Roll the nori away from you, starting with the end closest to you. As you roll, make sure to keep tucking the roll under so it is tight, much like you would roll a sleeping bag. When you get to the end, wet your finger with a little water and wet the edge of the nori to seal.
4. Wet the edge of a very sharp knife and cut into slices and enjoy your homemade professional-style sushi.
1/2 cup arame, soaked for 10 minutes according to above directions
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, cut into match-sticks
1 tablespoon tamari
1. Pat dry arame and set aside. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and sauté onion for 10 minutes. Add carrots and sauté another 4 minutes.
2. Add arame, tamari and enough apple juice and water to cover the veggies. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Serve warm.