I remember growing up near the sea and the local shops were full of packs of fresh seaweed, it was just packed as is or with a spicy marinade. It was still rather tasteless. My parents obviously told me that it was so healthy, but at that age all I cared was taste.
In my early 20s I had a friend who was obsessed with super healthy eating. You won’t find her at your normal eateries, but instead she was always with a pack of nuts, fruit or that seaweed. I think she was having it as a side salad to another salad. Flavour was much better than I remembered it to be in my childhood, but definitely not enough to make this weird food attractive enough for me.
You obviously know seaweed as a wrapper for the sushi rolls. Yet what about the other kinds? It was a sheer coincidence (or was it?) that I briefly lived in a Korean neighbourhood and then stumbled upon a shelf of different kinds of seaweed in a local-ish health food store. My attention was drawn to a very compelling message that it is really good as it is packed with protein, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C and Calcium. You’ve probably guessed right – all these are normally cited as problematic for those who lead a vegan lifestyle. There are plenty of resources about supplements and you probably can spend a fortune on them, but what about some natural ways how to get all that goodness? Seaweed seems to be that perfect solution!
Let’s dig deeper about that seaweed.
I have started with a pack of Atlantic Kitchen Wakame seaweed, which is proudly labeled as superfoods of the sea and promised to have a subtle, sweet taste with a silky smooth texture. I am quite an impatient person so I got a little piece straightaway to my mouth to check how it taste like. It is savoury, almost umami-like with a very light sweet-ish note to it. It definitely reminds me of my childhood and the sea, probably because it is really high in iodine and you can smell it.
So let’s see about its magic composition of nutrients. That pack contained the following per 100 g:
1070 mg of Calcium (more than half of your regular daily intake, so it’s very good!)
13.9 g salt (watch out!)
14.4 g of protein (again, wow!)
38.1 g of fibre (wow!)
7.3 g of carbs
2.5 g of fat
37 mg Vitamin C (ok, but not amazingly high)
12 g iron (86% your daily recommended dose, so really amazing!)
It’s clear to see how good it is for you in terms of fibre and protein, being fairly low on carbs and fat. All you need to do is watch out you don’t eat anything salty and you get your Calcium and iron from a natural source. I loved it. Wakame needs just a few minutes to soften, so I have tried it in my curries, warm salads and pasta. Recipes to follow, but you get the idea!
My second experiment was with a pack of mixed sea vegetables (also dried) made by Clearsping brand. They advise that you need to soak this seaweed for 10 minutes in a bowl of lukewarm water and expect them to expand considerably. I have used it as an ingredient for my barley and beetroot salad but also to other grain-based salads – it just adds even more colour and flavour to it.
The ingredients started to sound a bit more complicated as in addition to the known Wakame, I got also agar and aka tsunomata kinds of seaweed.
Let’s see how this mix differs nutritionally (again, per 100 g):
1.5 g fat (slightly less)
3 g carbs (much less!)
fibre 23 g (a bit lower, but still very substantial for a day)
protein 6.5 g (also lower, so you might need to add a bit more protein to your salad or pasta)
similar amounts of vitamins and minerals
4 g salt (that’s much better!)
So it pays off to look at the labels and check how salty your seaweed is, yet getting similar amounts of vitamins and minerals.
As a small teaser, before I start my Cooking with Seaweed series, simply make a avocado on toast and put some pre-soaked pieces of seaweed on top. Yum!
I hope you enjoy my new series of seaweed inspired recipes – make sure you visit Kind Healthy Lifestyle often or subscribe to our list & join the tribe – you won’t miss anything then! Cheers