Neptune's Garden - Vegetables of the Sea
Most folks don't think of turning to the Earth's oceans for
vegetables, yet there is a vast source of nutritious food available there
that is just now reaching the mainstream diet in the United States - sea
vegetables. Sea vegetables, or seaweed are marine algae which are abundant
all over the world. You know, those big long things you see washed up on
the coast that look like rubber and make great jumpropes when they're still
moist. They, and the many other varieties, are among the most ancient life
forms on earth and probably were the first life to exist. In many parts
of the world, they have been harvested and eaten since long before land-based
agriculture. They can be eaten fresh, but most often are granulated or dried
and reconstituted while cooking other foods. They add a delicious variation
to almost any dish, from rice to stir-fry to soup to popcorn.
Health Benefits of Seaweed
Sea vegetables are virtually fat-free, low calorie and one
of the richest sources of minerals in the vegetable kingdom as they have
ready access to the abundance of minerals found in the ocean. Nourishment
is acquired across the sea vegeable's entire surface through the gentle
wave action of underwater currents. Sea water & human blood contain
many of the same minerals in very similar concentrations.
Sea vegetables contain high amounts of calcium and phosphorous and are extremely
high in magnesium, iron, iodine and sodium. For example, 1/4 cup of cooked
hijiki contains over half the calcium found in a cup of milk and more iron
than in an egg, important concerns for vegans, those who refrain from eating
any animal-based products. They also contain vitamins A, B1,
C and E, as well as protein and carbohydrates.
One of seaweed's most prominent health benefits is its ability to remove
radioactive strontium and other heavy metals from our bodies. Whole brown
seaweeds (not granulated) such as kelp contain alginic acid which binds
with the toxins in the intestines rendering them indigestible and carries
them out of the system.
At Sundance we carry a wide assortment of bulk and packaged seaweeds. Add
a bit of Neptune's garden to your next meal and reap the benefits of these
Types of Seaweed
Arame - A Japanese sea vegetable, with a mild flavor,
arame is dried and cut into thin strands, it can be added to soups or served
as a vegetable side dish.
Hijiki - Found primarily in the Far East, contains the most calcium
of any of the sea vegetables, 1400mg/100gr dry weight (compared to milk
with 100mg/100gr.) In its natural state it is very tough; after harvesting
it is dried, steamed and dried some more. When cooked, it rehydrates and
expands about five times its dry volume.
Kelp - This sea vegetable grows mainly in the north along the Pacific
and Atlantic coastlines. The name kelp is European in origin and originally
referred to the ash derived from burning brown algae, which was used to
produce soap and glass. Most often dried and sold whole, granulated or powdered.
It can be sprinkled on foods as a condiment, or whole kelp adds a nice touch
to salads or it can be used as a wrap for a variety of fillings.
Kombu - Kombu can be used for soup stock or added to the bottom of
a pot of rice or vegetables to help them keep from sticking; added to a
pot of beans, kombu helps them cook faster and renders
them more digestible due to the high mineral content.
Wakame & Alaria - These seaweeds are similar in characteristics
but differ in their habitats. Wakame is collected in the cold waters off
the island of Hokaido, Japan and alaria is harvested in North America. Wakame
is a good source of protein, iron, calcium, sodium & other minerals
and vitamins. Alaria is high in vitamin K and the B-vitamins as well as
the minerals iodine and bromine.
Agar-Agar - This is a versatile, tasty gel that will
set at room temperature. Its been used for centuries in the home as a mild
laxative and as a basic ingredient in a Japanese dessert, kanten. Agar-agar
is rich in iodine and trace elements.
Irish Moss - Irish Moss is most often used dried in relishes, breads,
soups or fritters. Many people snack on this dried dulse straight out of
Nori - Unlike other sea vegetables that are collected wild, Japanese
nori is cultivated. In Ireland, it is known as sloke and in Scotland
and Wales as laver. Gaelic people have long made flat breads from
flour and nori, known as laver bread. Its most prominent use is as the wrapping
for sushi, although it can be cut into strips, lightly toasted and used
as a garnish as well. It is exceptionally high in vitamin A and protein.
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ResSeguie Last update: May 23, 1996