Looking for super foods but don’t know where to turn? SEA-KELP from the oceans!

It’s no secret that people are wary of Big Pharma and popping pills just to sustain a certain quality of life. This skepticism and increasing Pharma-angst has given way to the rise of Nutraceuticals, which are essentially nutritional supplements.

But what an age to be pursuing health in! In today’s world, consumers have a voice and conscience about where their products have come from, or the sustainability of the product and producer. Companies are required to be transparent in their practice and accountable to the consumer. We’ve taken our health back into our hands -- where it never should’ve left.  

A Nutraceutical is really just a new term for nutritional supplement: a product from a food source to provide extra benefits. These benefits can be to aid in the normal function of the body, help prevent chronic diseases, boost immunity, delay aging process, and improve overall health and wellbeing, both physically and psychologically. One of the top nutraceuticals is found at the bottom of the ocean: Seaweed.

Despite common perception as an Asian food, used in Miso soup and sushi, edible seaweed is found in all oceans and has been consumed in many cultures. Here in Ireland after the potato famine, marine villages like Dungloe survived on nothing but Dulse, a shallow water, nutrient dense seaweed. Although just living on seaweed and water sounds like a death sentence, the small population survived: Dulse is twice as nutritious as kale, and contains over 15% of protein by dry weight! 
By the way, if you want non-Asian seaweed inspiration, try drying Dulse and flaking it over meals as a seasoning. Or take full leaves of this sea lettuce and fry it up! It has a super savoury, almost bacon-like flavour. It’s the perfect savory, meaty-textured food for vegans, vegetarians, or those looking to cut down their meat consumption.       

There are many types of seaweed: Kelp, Dulse, Wakame, Sea Spaghetti, Nori, Arame, Hijiki, and Kombu, just to name a few. Seaweed grows in cool waters and are able to easily absorb the vast, hearty nutrients from their growing environment. This is why seaweed is so good for us:

• Low calorie

• Low lipids

• High concentration of minerals, vitamins, and proteins, including Magnesium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Iodine.  

• Dietary Fiber ranges from 30% to 75% in dried weight

• It is an antioxidant, antimutagenic, has an anticoagulant effect, and has been recognised to increase antitumor activity. 

Are you hungry yet? Let’s really get that summer beachy glow by cooking up some beach food! Here are some ways to enjoy your new favorite Nutraceutical.

• Dried Nori sheets are common in most supermarkets or bodegas, as it’s the seaweed used in sushi. Crumble some Nori on top of a dish. Or blitz into a powder and use it as a stock or seasoning in sauces or dressings. It’s the perfect secret ingredient! 

• Make a Wakame slaw to top burgers, salads, or just eat forkfuls at a time! Seriously, it’s that good! Here’s what to do: 

◦ Prep Wakame and cabbage: thinly slice both, roughly one 8-inch piece of Wakame and 3 cups cabbage. Blanch in hot water for 10-15 seconds. Then immerse in cold water until completely cooled. Drain well and set aside. 

◦ Shred 3 carrots, 4 radishes, 1 peeled granny smith apple, and 2 turnips. Add to the cabbage Wakame mixture. 

◦ Either dress it in 3 tablespoons rice vinegar with 1 teaspoon sesame oil, or make a mayo-based dressing with 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 teaspoons black pepper, and vinegar to taste. Add flaked seaweed or spring onions to garnish. Enjoy! 

• Seaweed Chips: Similar to Kale Chips, but so much more nutritious and naturally delicious! Prepare the same way you would the kale chips: rinse, dry, and toss the seaweed in oil. Layer on a baking sheet and bake at 250 until just crisped through, between 25-40 minutes depending on the size of your seaweed. Toss in seasoning once cooked. Chilli and lemon pepper is a favorite of mine! What’s yours? 

If you can’t stomach the taste of seaweed, there are a large variety of dried seaweed capsules you can source. Be sure to find a reputable producer. And, as always, buying local builds local community! See if any local health stores can source these products for you.

Don’t forget to get in touch! I’d love to see how you make Lo & Slo your own flavor. Tag me at #LoAndSlo on social media.