Superfood is a nutrition buzzword if ever there was one. What does it really mean? There is no clear definition. I use the word here to draw attention to the fact that this simple salad is incredibly nutrient dense. Sea vegetables (also known commonly as seaweed) are a superfood when it comes to the broad spectrum of nutrients they contain. Sea vegetables include approximately 15,000 species that vary in color from translucent to purple-black. Nori, dulse, kelp, wakame, and sea lettuce are some of the commonly consumed species.
Different species and colors of seaweed contain varying nutrients, but as a whole, they contain an amazingly broad spectrum—minerals in particular. Most notably, sea vegetables are a fantastic source of iodine. As a group, they are also a great source of calcium, Vitamin C, magnesium, iron, Vitamin K, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, many B vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, phosphorus, and potassium. Rich in anti-oxidants and other helpful compounds, seaweed positively affect metabolism, the cardiovascular system, and prevents/treats cancers.
Sea vegetables also have some nutrients found nowhere else. One example of this is sulfated polysaccharides also known as fucoidans. Fucoidans are powerful antioxidants that block inflammatory signaling in the body. They are also anti-virals. Prevention of blood clots and cholesterol-lowering effects make fucoidans a winner for the cardiovascular system as well.
Heavy metal accumulation from contaminated waters is a concern with sea vegetables. The only one that routinely tests high is hijiki which tends to accumulate arsenic. For this reason, you should purchase from reputable sources doing regular testing. The brands referred to in this post are excellent sources.
Before I give you the salad recipe, I want to point out a few other ways that I incorporate sea vegetables into my family’s food. Next to my stove, I keep a shaker or two of different dried seaweed flakes like dulse and kelp from Maine Coast. I sprinkle these onto eggs, into soups and stews, and into recipes like meatloaf and skillet dinners. They add a lot of nutrition and don’t change the flavor of the dish at all. Maine Coast offers shakers blending sea salt and seaweed that you can use to season your food. Buying larger packages and then putting them into a shaker yourself can save you a lot of money and will last forever. Gomasio seasoning is a blend of sesame seeds, sea salt, and seaweed (dulse, nori, and kombu) and is a delicious addition to things like salads and roasted vegetables. Another way I add sea vegetables is to use slices of kombu as a flavor addition to soups and broths. I add seaweed to my homemade dog food too. Finally, my daughter loves roasted nori seaweed snacks (I’m not a fan) like those from Seasnax.
Sea Vegetable Superfood Salad
The seaweed used for this salad is a product from the Sea Tangle Noodle Company. This beautiful mix of sea vegetables comes packed in salt and needs to be thoroughly rinsed prior to use. You can even soak it in cool filtered water to remove more of the salt depending on the level of salt desired. Allow to drain, but there is no need to spin them dry. Beyond that, the sea vegetables are ready to eat and require no cooking.
This salad will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator as well. It makes a fantastic side salad and is addictively delicious. The addition of fresh garlic and hempseeds gives this superfood salad even more nutrient density.
For a salad to serve 6-8, here is what you need:
- 2 packages of thoroughly rinsed Sea Tangle Noodle Company mixed sea vegetables
- 1.5 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
- 1 bunch scallions thinly sliced or 1/3 cup finely minced red onion
- 3 TB toasted sesame oil (sub EVOO for AIP and add 1/2 tsp fish sauce)
- 1.5 TB rice vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 cloves of garlic, very finely minced or crushed
- 2 tb hempseed hearts sprinkled on top when serving (omit for AIP)
- red pepper flakes to taste if desired (omit for AIP– I can’t do peppers, but would if I could)
Now, for the really hard directions: Just toss it all together! It’s ready to serve right away, but letting the flavors mingle a bit prior to serving is good too.