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(Sea Cabbage) The most commonly used seaweed, kombu is particularly good with beans. Add a 4-6 inch strip to soups, stews, beans, or brown rice as they cook. When cooking time is short, soak kombu for 20 minutes first. Once cooked, cut up and return to the dish. Kombu contains glutamic acid, a natural flavor enhancer. Like kelp, kombu has the ability to soften other foods that are cooked with it.

Health Benefits: Kombu contains enzymes that help to break down the raffinose sugars in beans (the cause of excessive gas and bloating), increasing digestability. Kombu also acts as an antidote to excess sodium consumption and it is known to reduce blood cholesterol and hypertension. Kombu is high in iodine, potassium and calcium, as well as vitamins A and C.


Since ancient times, sea vegetables have been appreciated as one of nature’s most valuable food sources by coastal peoples from around the globe. Although their taste is distinctive and an acquired one for those with an uninitiated palate, sea vegetables are incredibly versatile and may be added to just about any dish.

Soaking before cooking: Remember that dried seaweeds will expand considerably upon soaking. Save the soaking water, strain it, and use for soup broth and vegetable stock.


(Sea Lettuce, Green Laver) Nori has a mild, nutty, salty-sweet taste. Best when roasted before using (pre-toasted nori is sold as “sushi nori”), wild nori is excellent crumbled into soups, grains, salads, pasta, and popcorn. Nori is also great as a table condiment either alone or with ginger. Nori, when sold in paper- thin flat sheets, is used for wrapping sushi rolls or for cutting into strips to use in soup. Sea lettuce, “green nori” that resembles lettuce, is excellent in soups, salads, and in rice and noodle dishes.

Health Benefits: Nori is 28% protein, more than sunflower seeds, lentils or wheat germ. It is also an excellent source of calcium, iron, manganese, fluoride, copper, and zinc. Of the sea vegetables, nori is one of the highest in vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 as well as vitamins A, C and E.


A traditional addition to miso soup, this sweet-flavored and tender sea vegetable may be softened in water for only about 5-10 minutes before slivering into a green salad. Remove any stiff central rib before cutting and eating. Wakame goes well with land vegetables, especially cooked greens. It is particularly delicious when sauteed with onions. Lightly bake and crumble wakame for a mineral-rich condiment for brown rice and other grain dishes.

Storage: Dried seaweeds, if stored in a cool, dry place, will keep for several years in an airtight container. If the seaweed does become damp, simply dry briefly in a low oven.


Although they are part of the plant kingdom, sea vegetables are a complete protein source and one of nature’s richest sources of vegetable protein (up to 38%) and vitamin B12.

Ounce for ounce sea vegetables are higher in vitamins and minerals than any other food group. They are particularly high in vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B6, and B12. Seaweed also contains a substance (ergesterol) that converts to vitamin D in the body.

In addition to key nutrients, seaweeds provide us with carotene, chlorophyll, enzymes, and fiber.

Health Benefits: Wakame has many of the same nutritional benefits of its close relative, kombu. It is especially rich in calcium and contains high levels of vitamins B and C.

Seaweed’s saltiness comes from a balanced, chelated combination of sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and a myriad of trace minerals found in the ocean.


Nori Soup with Sheet Nori


Because their chemical make-up is so similar to human blood, sea vegetables have a balancing, alkalizing effect on the blood.

few drops of toasted sesame oil

1 c. onion, cut into half moons few drops of shoyu or tamari

1 c. fresh mushrooms, finely sliced

5 c. water 2 sheets of nori 5 T. shoyu or tamari

green onions, chopped to garnish

Brush a deep pot with a small amount of sesame oil and heat. Add the onions and saute for 3 minutes on medium heat, adding a few drops of shoyu while sautéing. Add the mushrooms and sauté for a further 2–3 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Break the nori sheets into small pieces and add to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the shoyu and simmer for 1–2 minutes. Serve garnished with the chopped green onions. Serves 4–5.

Sea vegetables are known for their ability to reduce cholesterol, remove metallic and radioactive elements from the body, and to prevent goiter.

Seaweed also has antibiotic properties that have shown to be effective against penicillin- resistant bacteria.

Sources: Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen by Lorna Sass, Whole Foods Companion by Dianne Onstad, Cooking with Sea Vegetables by Peter and Montse Bradford and Maine Coast Sea Vegetables Recipes.

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