If you’re curious about trendy, green sea vegetables popping up in restaurants around the country, we’ve got the healthy scoop. Nutritionally, seaweed delivers all the goods; it’s a natural source of iodine for thyroid health (important for a buzzing metabolism), vitamin A, K, calcium, iron, zinc, protein, vitamin B12 (rare in plants), omega-3s and more. Studies show promise for seaweed’s hormone balancing actions, anti-inflammatory activity, cholesterol-lowering effects and brain-boosting benefits, and, it helps to keep digestion in top form. Available year-round, sustainable and incredibly nutritious (even more so than kale!), you’ll need some tasty recipes to get you started — and we’ve got you covered from nori to wakame.
Sturgeon with Nori and Caviar
Nori is likely the most well-known and widely available seaweed, classified as a “red” varietal. Traditionally, it’s used to wrap rice for sushi, but it should be known for its health benefits, too. High in protein and minerals, including iodine for proper thyroid function, you’ll want to employ it in the everyday kitchen more often.
Local Albacore Tuna Crudo with Radishes and Stinging Nettle Nori Purée
Along with tons of health benefits, seaweed packs in umami, an intense, savoury flavour that’s recognized in beef, cheese and mushrooms. Like a deconstructed tuna roll — hold the white rice — this classy dish is surprisingly easy to pull off at home.
Cucumber Seaweed Salad
If the vegetal flavour of seaweed has you turning up your nose, try pairing it with mellow cucumber and nutty sesame seeds to smooth things out. Both seaweed and cucumber are sources of silica, a beauty nutrient benefiting skin and hair health. Keep the cucumber peel on for the greatest health benefits (and prettiest presentation).
Braised Oyster with Sea Moss
Sea moss (Irish moss) adds silkiness to both desserts and savoury fare, lending an incredible thickening quality and nutrition to boot. Sea moss contains algin, a phytonutrient helping to usher out heavy metals from the body, along with a hefty amount of potassium for fluid balance and proper muscle function. Try it in this umami-packed, Asian-inspired meal.
Kale chips are so last year; nori chips are the veggie chip of the moment in 2016, and just as easy to create in your own kitchen. Replacing nori with kale means an increase in protein, iron, iodine, protein, omega-3s, magnesium and calcium — and these chips can be spiced up with whatever you’re craving. Try chili powder, thyme, curry powder or turmeric for a brand new nori chip.
Mushroom Tartar with Kelp Caviar
Kelp can be added to soups, stews, oatmeal, salads and more in granule form, lending more than a day’s worth of iodine and an enormous amount of iron in less than one teaspoon. For something different, try caviar made from kelp for a fish-free, sustainable way to indulge your inner gourmand.
Udon Noodles with Shiso
Now available as a trendy, healthy snack, toasted seaweed finds itself at home as a soup ingredient too. Like udon noodles and shiso (an herb), toasted seaweed is becoming more common in general grocery stores around the country, making this superfood available in any kitchen locale. Enjoy this nourishing soup instead of chicken noodle next time you’re feeling under the weather for a quick — and delicious — recovery.
Once you’ve dipped your toes in the waters of seaweed, you’ll be eager to try your hand at these esoteric varieties. This glorious salad is a true celebration of the sea with Irish moss, nori, dulse and salicornia (sea asparagus). Bringing iron, fibre, protein, omega-3s, a load of rare phytonutrients, protein, potassium and much more, it’s a true power-food meal. Many of the seaweeds in this salad can be purchased from a specialty food store or online if you don’t live on the coast.
Grand Manan Caesar
This seaweed sipper has healthy brunch written all over it. Instead of salt, kelp, a natural source of sodium, is used in the classic Caesar, adding an unexpected depth of flavour and richness.
Seaweed-Crusted Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes
For time-crunched cooks, this one-pan meal is easy and packed with healthy seaweed. Halibut’s mild taste allows the seaweed to stand out, lending both great flavour and nutrition. Since the abundance of minerals in seaweed can’t be destroyed by heat, don’t be afraid to sear the fish until crispy.
Get the recipe for Seaweed-Crusted Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes
Allison Day is a cookbook author, nutritionist (RHN) and the creator of the award-winning food blog Yummy Beet.