19 Aug The Secret of Seaweed
By Stephanie Perruzza MS, RD, Contributing Blogger
I think most of you can agree seaweed can be a bother at the beach. It sticks to your bathing suit, tangles into your hair and, most distinctly, provides a far from fragrant sea scent. But, I’ll admit, there is something about this beautiful sea “green” (found also in brown and red) that has everybody curious about its new proclaimed fame.
Seaweed: A Sea Vegetable
As the latest health trend, seaweed has increasingly made its way into news headlines and onto our plates boosting various health benefits. Most popular in Asian cuisines for centuries as an “ancient super food”, this sea vegetable is now found in most health food stores and packaged as snacks.
Seaweed is a great source of protein, fiber and a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Studies suggest this sea green has helps decrease inflammation and aids in heart health, weight management and cancer prevention.
Below are a few seaweed varieties to try in your favorite dishes:
Nori, the most well known edible seaweed, is most commonly used as a wrap for sushi. In two sheets you get 20% the recommended daily value of Vitamin C and 16% of Vitamin A. Nori is sold dried in sheets, flakes or strips in most Asian and health food markets.
This long stripped, brownish looking seaweed is a primary source of flavor in Japanese dishes for soup stock. A ½ cup serving contains 50% the recommend daily value of folate and 30% of magnesium. Kombu can also be enjoyed pickled and cut into strips.
The purplish-brown plant has a mildly spicy, salty flavor traditionally found in as dried flakes or powdered seasoning. Its distinct flavor makes it a great addition to soups, stir fries or marinades; if you prefer your dishes less salty, rinse before using. Dulse is also rich in iron with 19% the recommended daily value per 1/3 cup.
These silky thick, flat leaves are a bit stronger in taste and texture, but a staple in miso soups. It’s often referred to as “women’s seaweed” because of its ample amounts of magnesium (26% the recommend daily value) and calcium (15% recommended daily value) per 1 cup, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Arame comes in darker strands and has a mild, semi-sweet flavor making it a complementary ingredient in dishes ranging from casseroles to muffins. Arame is an excellent source of fiber with 7 grams per ½ cup (28% the recommended daily value). This seaweed is purchased dried and should be soaked for 5-10 minutes before cooking to rehydrate.
Ways to Enjoy
A few other ways to incorporate into your diet include:
- Breakfast – bake seaweed into muffins, blend into smoothies, or mix into eggs for a tasty omelet.
- Snacks – for a satisfying lower calorie crunch, try dried seaweed crackers or sheets. You can buy in the store packaged, or try making your own at home with a little olive oil!
- Soups – next time you make a homemade vegetable soup, toss in some seaweed for added texture and flavor.
SO TELL ME: What’s your favorite way to enjoy seaweed?