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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sea Veggies from Neptune's Garden

When I think of getting my veggies in, I think about my garden, our trips to the CSA, and the store to make my selections. I never really think about the vegetables from the sea---SEAWEED, but I should.

Someday I am going to really enjoy these little creatures, but for right now I am content to use seaweed in my baths and detox programs, until I work my way up to eating them. But for those of you that are interested, check out the list of seaweed and its health benefits.

Fat free
Low in calories
Rich source of minerals (calcium and phosphorous and are extremely high in magnesium iron, iodine and sodium
Contains vitamins A, B1, C and E, as well as protein and carbohydrates
Can remove radioactive strontium and other heavy metals from our bodies

Brown Seaweed:
"Chemists in Japan have found that brown seaweed, a flavor component used in many Asian soups and salads, contains a compound that appears in animal studies to promote weight loss by reducing the accumulation of fat. Called fucoxanthin, the compound achieved a 5 percent to 10 percent weight reduction in test animals and could be developed into a natural extract or drug to help fight obesity, the researchers say." Science Daily, 9/06

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.

Red Seaweed:
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 the bag.

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.

Personally, I don't like sushi because of the seaweed wraps. I will use Dulse granules to sprinkle over my food. I have tried Kombu --couldn't get it down. But on the other hand, I buy alot of seaweed, grind it into flakes or a powdery state, then blend it with epsom salts, baking soda, sea salts, and a variety of herbs.
I then place this mixture into these very cool, large teabags I found online. You fill the bag, then seal it with an iron. The contents stay contained within the teabag, not creating a mess. Toss one of these into a hot tub to soak or a foot bath, and you reap wonderful benefits of detoxing. For me, that is my first step into the world of sea veggies, as I'm not sure I will ever be able to really like or even tolerate the taste in food.

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