Salty, special, strange, and spectacular- seaweed is more than just a wrap for sushi, or something to sprinkle on a dish. One of the most fundamentally interesting and delicious foods on the planet, there is nothing quite comparable.
Not technically a plant, seaweed is actually a marine alga that has many of its own features and health benefits. With no roots, it draws life from the water around it, and from the sun that makes its way under water. Because it draws nutrients from the mineral rich ocean water, it is one of the most highly nutrient dense foods on earth.
Commonly eaten by the healthiest cultures around the world, it has only recently started making its way more frequently into western diets. Rich in iodine, micronutrients and minerals, it helps boost immunity and protect against cellular damage. It is one of the world’s richest sources of iodine- and while iodine is not something that you want to eat in excess- most Americans are not getting enough. As mentioned in our interview with Rachelle Poitras of Her Metanoia, iodine is a valuable mineral when it comes to breast health. As the naturally occurring iodine in our diets has decreased, the rates of breast cancer have increased, and cultures that regularly consume sea vegetables have lower rates. Making no claims of course, as there are many factors that affect breast health- it is worth noting the importance of eating foods rich in iodine. The risk of getting too much in your diet is not something that most people should be concerned with unless you are eating cups of seaweed daily. Eat seaweed salad as a condiment, not as the center of your meal.
So, you get that it is healthy, but what else does it do?
It must be noted that not only is this ocean plant super nutritious- it is incredibly beneficial to the environment. Because it grows so rapidly, it has the ability to sequester carbon at a phenomenal rate- approximately 200 million tons of CO2 a year. Scientists also estimate that marine algae and seaweeds are responsible for 70-80% of the oxygen on earth. This is an enormous amount and makes seaweed vital for life on this planet! The list goes on as it also absorbs the environmental toxins in its surrounding water, has the ability to clean ocean water, and can restore marine eco-systems.
In short. Seaweed is a big deal.
Making seaweed salad and serving it as a side with almost any salad or dish is a great way to get a daily dose of this amazing food. While it is most commonly served with Japanese food, I find myself enjoying it in many different ways- including on pasta, toast, crackers, and anywhere that I want a salty kick. If you don't have the inclination to make seaweed salad, you can also sprinkle dulse, wakame or kelp flakes on just about anything!
Here is an easy recipe for seaweed salad. You can use dried seaweeds- wakame, hijiki, or arame would all work. (Simply soak in water for 5-10 minutes, drain and season). Or use something like Sea Tangle Sea vegetables that are not dried, and only need to be rinsed, drained, and soaked for a few minutes in filtered water to remove any excess "seaweedy" flavor. This marinade is suitable for all seaweed salads!
Please note: The bright green seaweed salads that you often see are usually filled with sugar, weird oils, and are mostly junk. Making your own is usually better!
SEAWEED SALAD //
1 cup seaweed (either dried and reconstituted, or fresh)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil (can use all olive)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp garlic powder or 1/2 clove grated fresh garlic
1 tbsp sesame seeds or hemp seeds
Toss all ingredients together and allow to marinate at least 15 minutes.