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Seaweed in your Diet – How to Get Started

Dishes with seaweed at Pacific Harvest tasting

From doing lots of tastings and workshops, I know that even though people absolutely believe in the nutritional & wellness virtues of seaweeds, it is for most, a significant challenge to make it part of the diet consistently enough to make a difference to health & well-being.

Seaweed were once a staple in the diet of most nations bordering the sea. It was simply part of life whether it was consumed as a seasonal, traditional or ceremonial food or used therapeutically by herbalists to prevent or treat various ailments. For most of us, seaweed is now associated with Asian food, only because it seems the only place we see it used consistently, but we have historical roots to go back to and we should revive the old traditions that have helped our ancestors sustain themselves through a nutrient-rich diet.

Of course, seaweed can be eaten fresh, cut out of the sea just the same way we collect vegetables from our garden. Just like land vegetables, seaweeds come in great variety and their availability is seasonal (for most of them). For that reason our ancestors - and we do the same today - dried it naturally and stored it to use throughout the year. Dried seaweeds are not a compromise in any way, it it's done naturally: they preserve all their nutrients, re-hydrate to their original texture (like when they are exposed at low tide) and keep for a very long time if stored away from light.

Their immense variety lend them to various culinary uses; their versatility means that the same plant can be enjoyed in many different ways. It is our goal through this website to initiate you, teach you & inspire you to use these nutrient-rich plants regularly, you'll feel a lot healthier for it!

Here's the way to start:

1. USE SEAWEED SEASONINGS:
Used as a salt alternative or to replace other condiments, Kelp Seasonings (high levels of iodine) or Furikake Seasonings (a mixture of 5 different seaweeds - wide range of nutrients) are a good unobtrusive way to put seaweed in your diet  everyday! Everyone puts something on their food to flavour it and seaweed have a number of important characteristics that make it an excellent condiment:

  • seaweed tastes salty with less sodium and a better balance of minerals than salt
  • seaweed contains Umami, a naturally occurring amino-acid also called 'the 5th taste' which flavours , intensifies & balances all the tastes in a dish
  • seaweed tenderizes and adds texture to dishes

2. USE SEAWEED IN STOCKS:
Whether you make your own stock / bone broth or buy one already made, add a piece of Kombu to the warm stock for 10 minutes or more to create a very nutritious stock. This stock will have a very delicate taste and can be used for any of your culinary endeavour. I make a big pot and freeze portions that I will use in individual recipes whenever stock is required. Other seaweeds can be used to make stock but Kombu (made from kelp) has traditionally been the seaweed of choice by Japanese chefs. When using the Kombu strip in your stock, it is best not to boil it as the taste is more delicate that way, just let it steep 10 minutes or more, according to your taste. Many nutrients are released in the stock, mainly minerals & trace elements, some vitamins, amino & fatty acids. Of course you will notice the presence of the essential element iodine by the colour of the stock which will turn golden brown. It is very healthy to eat the trips of kombu; the fibre in it is detoxifying and a great prebiotic for your gut.

3. USE THE POWDERS (KELP, KARENGO, SPIRULINA) IN SMOOTHIES, BREAKFAST CEREALS OR BAKING FOR A NUTRIENT BOOST.
One doesn't need to consume a lot (quantity) of seaweed to benefit from their healthy effects, it's more the consistency of use that makes a difference. As little as a fraction of a teaspoon (1/4 - 1 tsp, depending on the seaweed) daily can make a significant difference to your well-being. Simply add the powders to your favourite smoothie recipe, to fresh juices or as a topping for your morning cereal. Their taste is mostly mild but train your palate slowly, starting with small quantities and increasing to a more significant amount over time. Be sure to check the iodine levels - each seaweed contains some - but kelp as an example, has a huge amount and should be consumed in very small quantities.

4. USE SEAWEED LEAVES AS WRAPS
Our goal is to supply unaldurated seaweeds, like you would have them if you were harvesting them yourselves. Some we cut, grind or powder because they are more easily consumed that way and they require strong equipment to get it done. But most seaweeds are versatile and having the full leaf gives you all the flexibility to use them in many different ways. Especially delicious with fish, but suitable to a number of other dishes, wrapping seaweed leaves (Kombu, Sea lettuce or Wakame) around food for steaming or baking preserves moisture, imparts nutrients and a balances flavours (Umami). Also, the seaweed taste delicious, especially when t gets crunchy in the oven 🙂

5. ADD FLAKES TO EVERYTHING: YOUR FAVOURITE DIPS OR AS A GARNISH ON POTATOES
So easy to just add to everything, garnish a soup, a butter, a dip, vegetables, baking, omelette and more! Just sprinkle a bit as a garnish, mostly their lovely colour with enhance the look of the dish, provide you with lots of nutrients and add to the richness of the flavour.

Look at our recipe section for inspiration but here again, whether you love to cook or prefer to buy food already prepared, it is easy to just add a bit of seaweed...remember using the seasonings or the flakes is just a sprinkle away from good minerals and much more.

You will learn quickly that you do not need to change your diet to add seaweed to it. Seaweed pair equally well with meat, vegetables, fish, baking, breakfast foods, smoothies etc...even dessert!
It is more a matter of finding out what you like and the combos that satisfy your palate. It is very possible that one or two seaweed do not agree with you, it doesn't mean that you would dislike them all...plenty of people do not enjoy kale and still eat lots of other vegetables.
Sometime it has to do with the combination, finding something that goes well with the seaweed, that is convenient for you and tempting to your palate. Our recipes are there to inspire but maybe you have to try things yourself too. The table below summarises their presentation and culinary uses:

Read WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW about seaweed for food.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information is generic and should be verified by a qualified health practitioner for specific and individual needs & requirements.

 

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