Seaweed Recipes – Why is Seaweed a Superfood?
Cavemen and ancient civilizations would travel many miles to the ocean just harvest seaweed or sea vegetables, as they are called today. They understood the importance of the nutrients that seaweed provides. Aside from the abundance of vitamins and minerals found in kombu, kelp, nori and other saltwater seaweed varieties, the main attraction is the rich source of iodine that seaweed possesses.
Our bodies cannot function without iodine. The thyroid depends on it to produce hormones that control our metabolism. Since our body is not capable of producing iodine, we must get it from food sources or absorb it through our skin from environmental sources. The problem with environmental sources is that the iodine in our environment is usually the radioactive kind and not something you want your body to take in. To prevent this from happening we must make sure we are not iodine deficient. If you are consuming adequate amounts of iodine in your diet, you need not worry about it. That is where the importance of eating seaweed comes in.
In the 1920’s most governments imposed a law that all table salt needed to be fortified with iodine to ensure that people were getting adequate amounts in their diets. With the recent trends to reduce salt intake and the switch to sea salt as opposed to table salt, we are becoming more and more iodine deficient. This leaves us very vulnerable to radiation poisoning at times of crisis such as the tsunami in Japan, the nuclear meltdowns at 3 mile island and Chernobyl. The radiation that is emitted into the atmosphere from nuclear plants is Iodine 131. If you are iodine deficient, your body will soak that radioactive iodine up like a sponge! One of the first things the government does in times of nuclear crisis is start handing out iodine supplements to help reduce the risks of radiation sicknesses. Don’t think you are safe if you live miles away either. Once that gets released into the atmosphere it travels! The radioactive dust settles in pretty much every country in various amounts.
Most eastern cultures have always included sea vegetables in their diets. It is only western society that has not adopted it as a valuable food source. The reason being that unless it is prepared properly it doesn’t taste very nice. I can attest to that. I bought kelp shreds at my local Asian market and tried it out. It was kind of nasty. BUT I wasn’t about to give up just yet. I did some research and found that I was preparing it all wrong. Once I learned how to prepare seaweed properly I really kind of like it more and more every time I eat it.. I find the taste to be similar to green beans.
So today I am sharing the proper way to prepare Kelp Shreds and my favorite recipe. This is what the package that I bought looked like. It was pretty inexpensive and comes in dried form. When re-hydrated it yields a huge mixing bowl full.
Important: You must rinse and rinse and rinse again. This was the big mistake I initially made when I first tried the seaweed and found it nasty tasting. I didn’t rinse it well enough. You need to keep rinsing until the water is clear.
Then you need to soak it. Just put the kelp shreds in luke warm water with the juice of a lemon. The lemon will help to soften the kelp so they are not so crunchy and give it more of an el dente noodle texture. Let the noodles soak for at least 30 minutes. I tend to put them to soak in the morning and just let them soak all day till I am ready to prepare dinner.
Drain well and store in a zip storage bag in the fridge. You will need to use scissors or a knife to cut them into shorter shreds as they are like really long noodles.
If you eat a small serving every day you need not ever worry about iodine deficiency. Do not overdo it though. Too much iodine and you may run into hyperthyroid problems. If you already have thyroid issues, consult your doctor before including seaweed in your diet. Everyone else is good to go!
How do you eat seaweed?
- mix it in with your salad greens in your favorite salad
- mix it in with zucchini noodles and top with your favorite pasta sauce
- make a seaweed salad
- use it in any of your recipes that call for green beans. My personal favorite is Szechuan Kelp Shreds (my Paleo version of Szechuan Green Beans)
- use a Nori wrap and fill with sandwich fixings
The fact is you can easily include seaweed in your daily diet if you just use your imagination.
Szechuan Kelp Shreds Recipe
2 cups prepared kelp shreds (see instructions above)
2 green onions, chopped
1-2 tbsp chili garlic sauce (depending on how spicy you like them)
1 tbsp soy-free soy sauce
1 tbsp minced ginger root
drizzle of sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a wok or skillet. Quickly saute the onions, ginger and chili garlic sauce for a minute or so to infuse the oil with flavor. Toss in the kelp shreds and saute until heated through and well mixed with sauce. Drizzle with a small amount of sesame oil (don’t overdo as this is a strong flavor. A little goes a long way) Plate it up and garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!