Sea vegetables, especially kelp, are one of nature’s best sources of iodine. Iodine is essential for proper thyroid function. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism in every cell of the body and play a role in virtually all physiological functions. Sea vegetables also promote women’s health because they contain lignan phytonutrients that have phytoestrogenic activity. Dried Sea Vegetables are ranked second to flaxseeds as the food that contains the highest amounts of lignans. Lignans can act like estrogen when the body’s stores of this hormone are low, such as in menopause, potentially relieving associated symptoms. When estrogen levels are too high they bind to estrogen receptors, which may have benefits in preventing PMS and breast cancer. Sea vegetables promote optimal health because they are a source of fucans. Fucans reduce the body’s inflammatory response, have antithrombotic activity (ability to inhibit blood clots), antiviral activity and may inhibit the development of tumors. Sea vegetables are filled with nutrients including energy-producing iron, bone-building calcium and magnesium, heart-healthy folate and sleep-promoting tryptophan. Sea vegetables are also filled with other vitamins and minerals including Vitamins A, B and K, potassium, iron, phosphorous, manganese and zinc. Many varieties contain up to 50% soluble fiber, which helps regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Sea Vegetables contain approximately 9 calories per ¼ cup serving so they are an ideal food for weight loss and maintenance.
Sea vegetables are usually purchased dry and can be prepared in minutes. Purchase sea vegetables in the Japanese section of most markets. Some are ready to eat, while others need to be reconstituted. Place the sea vegetable in a bowl, cover with cool water until fully rehydrated which is approximately 5-10 minutes.
The following are some of types of sea vegetables:
Hiziki is one of my favorites. It is filled with calcium. One cup of hiziki has ten times the calcium of a glass of milk.
Arame is rich in calcium, iodine, potassium and vitamins A and B. I love to make cold arame salads.
Nori is famous for its role as the wrapper in sushi rolls. Use nori to make sushi rolls or burrito wraps.
Dulse is high in Vitamin C, potassium and Vitamin B6. Dulse has four times more iron than spinach. Dulse requires no preparation so all you have to do is chop and sprinkle it on vegetables, grains or legumes for extra flavor. Dulse is sold in shakers so you can just shake it on everything.
Kelp is loaded with calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, chromium, and iodine. You can add strips of kelp to soups and beans. Kelp also comes in a shaker.
Kombu is filled with calcium, potassium, vitamin C, and iron. Use with seaweed to make soup stocks. It triples in volume when soaked for 10 minutes.
Agar is a jellylike seaweed used to make gelatin-type desserts. It is rich in iodine.
Wakame is high in calcium, iron, iodine, phosphorous, potassium and vitamins A and B. Wakame absorbs marinades well and is found in traditional miso soup.
The following are ways to add sea vegetables to your daily eating:
Some sea vegetables come in shaker containers. Use ground dulse, kelp and nori instead of salt and shake them on everything including salads, sandwiches, entrees and soups. I even sprinkle kelp into my baby’s food. Some shaker containers come with seasonings too such as dulse and garlic or dulse and ginger.
Flavor soups with arame, kombu and wakame. Place the sea vegetables in with the heated fluid and the broth will fill with nutrients.
When boiling water for grains add a few pieces of sea vegetables to add nutrients to the water and therefore, the grain.
Add strips of nori to grains or cooked vegetables.
Learn to make your own sushi. The sea vegetable nori is used to make sushi. I love making sushi with quinoa instead of rice.
Use nori as a wrap instead of tortilla or grain wraps or lettuce wraps. A sea veggie wrap is a great on-the-go lunch.
Use arame as a substitute for pasta. I love making arame salads because they make me feel like I’m eating a big bowl of pasta.
The water the sea vegetables are soaked in is very nutritious. Use as much of this water in the recipe to maximize its flavor and nutritional value.
Here are a few of my favorite sea vegetable recipes:
Arame and Hiziki salad
This is my favorite. I prepare this often. I don’t use the same amounts of ingredients each time so choose the amounts of each of the following dependent upon your desire.
Mung Bean Sprouts
Seseame seed/sea vegetable shaker (found in Japanese section of market)
Braggs Amino Acids, Soy Sauce or Tamari
Sesame Oil or flax seed oil (I use flax seed oil but the sesame oil adds more flavor)
Soak the Arame and Hiziki as per the directions on the packages. Chop up some tofu and avocado. Add in mung bean sprouts. Mix in dressing of sesame oil and Braggs Amino Acids. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sea vegetable flakes. This is a fast and easy meal to prepare with no cooking.
Carrot Dulse Salad
2 C carrot, shredded
1 C dulse, chopped and rinsed
½ C snow peas, small julienne
¼ C black sesame seeds
3 T orange juice
2 T green onions, finely chopped
1 T garlic, minced
1 T Celtic Salt
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Let marinate for one hour.
Sea Vegetable Salad
1 C dulse, soaked, rinsed and chopped
1 C kelp, soaked, rinsed and chopped
3 T flax oil
1 T lemon juice
1 t ginger juice
Combine all ingredients and mix well.
½ dup guacamole
¼ C peas, sprouted or other sprouts
½ tomato, diced
1 handful alfalfa sprouts
1 sheet raw nori
Apply guacamole to nori sheet (this moistens it). Add the rest of contents and roll up.
I love to use hummus as a substitute for the guacamole too.
1 avocado, sliced
Nori sheets or soaked dulse strips
Lay the avocado inside the sea vegetable and roll up.
This is a quick on the go snack or meal.