Wednesday, June 16, 2010

For the LOVE of Sea Vegetables!

Sea vegetables are perhaps one of the most overlooked vegetables in terms of nutritional value and taste! Sea vegetables contain high levels of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, iodine, chlorophyll, enzymes and fiber and offer more vitamins and minerals per ounce than any other food and are one of nature’s richest sources of proteins, having up to 48% of plant-based protein! Sea vegetables are also high in vitamin b-12, which is usually only found in animal-based sources and is responsible for regulating the central nervous system and blood cell production. Ounce per ounce, they are higher in vitamins and nutritional value that almost any other food!

There’s more: Sea vegetables have a balancing, alkalizing effect on the blood, reduce cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, remove metallic toxins from the body, reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, and thyroid disease. On top of all of that, sea vegetables have been said to have cancer-fighting benefits! “One order of seaweed salad for me,” right?!?

Nori, hijiki, dulse, wakame, and kelp are just some of the many different types of sea vegetables, and each varies in shape, size and texture. In addition to the raw leaves, seaweed comes in flakes that are great to put in salads, soups and shakes and wraps, which can be used to make sushi or a delicious sandwich!

* Nori may be the best known because it is commonly used as a wrap for sushi. It commonly comes in sheets, which are great for making healthy wraps (see recipe below) and can also be found in flakes that you can sprinkle on your salads. My kids literally eat these plain broken up like chips.
* Hijiki is a more bitter tasting seaweed that when cooked is delicious and meaty like a Portobello mushroom. Most sushi restaurants have delicious hijiki salads, so try them!
* Dulse is a red algae that is delicious in a seaweed salad and, when dried, is salty and can crumbled up on a salad or eaten plain like a chip.
* Wakame has been used for thousands and thousands of years in Eastern medicine for blood purification, to strengthen the outer organs of the hair and skin and for menstrual and reproductive health.
* Kelp is one of my favorites, and something I use almost daily in my salads! Kelp is very salty and is great sprinkled or crumbled on salads

Avocado Vegetable Nori Wraps

2 sliced Hass avocados
4 Nori wraps (or 2 if you want to double them up!)
4 leaves of romaine (or spinach or any other mixed green)
1 roma or heirloom tomato
1 shredded carrot
For dipping: Nama Soyu soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids

Place a nori roll on a flat surface. You may choose to “double up” the rolls to make them a bit more durable. On top of the sheet place a layer of sliced avocados then shredded carrots then a leaf of romaine and finally a slice or two of tomato. Wrap tightly then serve with a side of Nama Soyu soy sauce , Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids or any regular soy sauce. These are truly delicious and are a healthy, portable lunch to pack in lunchboxes or for a meal while traveling.

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