As a kid, I went to camp in northern Wisconsin — Camp Marimeta in Eagle River, way, way up there! Those are days I will never forget — horseback riding, color wars, trampoline and good times with good friends.
The camp was on a lake, the scene of canoeing, kayaking, sailing and swimming — and in all those activities, I remember one thing… the seaweed!
When I think of seaweed, the first thing that comes to mind is the muck at the bottom of Lake Meta.
But then there’s the seaweed that you get in Japanese food. Not exactly the stuff on the bottom of the lake, or even the stuff that washes on the beach from the Ocean.
The seaweed you probably know from eating sushi is better known as Nori. Nori is from the red alga genus Porphyra, including most notably P. yezoensis andP. tenera. Before we see it wrapped around rice and raw fish, it goes through a process of shredding, drying and, most often, flavoring and toasting.
Nori may not seem like much, but it’s actually super high in nutritional value.
That thin, paper-like black stuff is high in protein, iron (vital for blood health), fiber and vitamins A (important for eyes, skin and teeth), C, K and B — especially B12 which can be lacking in many vegetarian diets. Seaweed is also high in iodine which is necessary for a functioning thyroid.
It also has zero grams of fat and very low calories for each sheet.
Because of its high mineral content, seaweed, along with its other sea veggie friends like dulse, kelp, wakame and arame, are often considered superfoods.
There are a number of different ways to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet, other than sushi. Some suggestions:
- Use kelp powder in place of salt on snacks like popcorn
- Add dulse to soup or salad
- For raw foodies, dulse is a key ingredient in non-tuna fish
- Make your own rolls. Try wrapping quinoa and black beans in nori for a high protein, vegetarian entree
Or … jump on the seaweed snack bandwagon!
It seems these days you can barely walk down an aisle at an organic grocery store like Whole Foods without bumping into a display of Annie Chun’s Seaweed Snacks or, more recently, Sea’s Gift brand.
Annie Chun’s comes in four flavors (although I’ve only seen the first two listed below at Whole Foods).
- Cracked pepper and herb
- Brown sugar and sea salt
SeaSnax comes in a wider variety of flavors:
- Toasty onion
And, in case there was any doubt, they’re all vegan.
I haven’t had Sea’s Gift yet, but I did stock up on Annie Chun’s when they were 10/$10 at WFM and I gotta say, it’s a tasty mid-afternoon treat!
I tend to crave salty, and it definitely hits that need and while I’m munching away, I can at least know that even though my snack tends to attract a few odd looks, I know that I’m eating something that’s good for me.
And, the other really appealing part, is they come in snack size packets, so keep a few in your drawer at work, and instead of reaching for salty chips high in fat and calories, reach for a little seaweed!