Seaweed is a serious multitasker. Besides being a nutritional powerhouse, seaweed is also an amazingly effective ingredient in skincare. This week, we decided to profile some of our favorite kinds of seaweed and share why we think they’re so awesome and how we incorporate them into what we do.
Most of us are first introduced to seaweed while eating sushi. Enveloping bits of rice and raw fish, nori is widely used because of its ability to hold together. We use it at Pure Food and Wine to wrap kimchi with avocado, bok choy, and cashew cheese, making our version of a Philly Roll – one of our more popular starters. We also use nori cut into strips to top our juice bar favorite, the Caesar Salad. We also use it in the dressing. Conventional Caesar dressing uses anchovies, so adding nori gives a hint of that oceany flavor, while also adding loads of health benefits. Nori, in its raw, unprocessed form, is high in protein, vitamins, and trace elements, and has the highest amount of B vitamins out of any seaweed. It’s known for being extremely thin; in fact, it’s only one cell thick! This paper-like plant is also incredibly strong, which is why it’s great for wraps. We sell it on our website in a dried, crinkled state instead of the sheets used for sushi, which is perfect as a salad topper. If you do buy nori in sheets, make sure that it’s not toasted, and is labeled raw to ensure that you’re getting all the good stuff.
The seaweed we sell is mostly harvested off the coast of Maine by dedicated, small teams. They take boats out early in the morning to collect the plants, then gently hang them to dry in the sun (check out a neat video of this process by Ironbound Island). This is a time consuming process that can only happen during a short time of the year. You may have noticed that we’ve been sold out of Nori on our website for some time. Because of these natural and ancient harvesting techniques, when the seaweed is gone, it’s gone until the following year. Check back in the fall!
Probably the most ocean-y of all seaweeds, and a staff favorite, is dulse. Dulse has a dark reddish purple color and an intense taste. Many of you may be familiar with its tangy flavor if you’ve ever ordered the S&M salad at our Juice Bars. This salad is filled with greens, hemp seeds, Rosemary Quackers, and topped off with dulse. What’s great about dulse is you don’t need to do anything to it; you can literally eat it straight from the bag! It’s amazing torn up and added to salads (to add density and flavor), in sandwiches (who needs bacon when you have salty dulse?), and even added to soups and stir-fries (if you’re into cooking). It’s the perfect addition to anything you want to add a mineral flavor to and has a variety of health benefits. It’s rich in potassium, iron, iodine, and trace minerals.
Commonly used at sushi restaurants, specifically in miso soup, this sea veg is normally found in long pieces, with hard stems, and is typically used after it’s been soaked. Cut wakame into pieces with a pair of kitchen scissors, put it in water for a minute or two, strain it, and it’s ready to use! It’s great on top of salads. If making something like soup, you can use the soaked water to add more flavor. The salt that naturally sticks to the leaves intensifies much of the flavor of wakame (and most seaweeds). When soaked, the salt comes off and so the flavor is milder. Look for raw Atlantic wakame (the Japanese varieties are normally not raw) like the one we sell that are rich in calcium, vitamins, and minerals. Come in to one of our Juice Bars and get the Sea Veg Salad to try some wakame yourself!
Kelp is probably the most recognized variety of edible seaweeds and its health benefits are remarkable. It has higher amounts of iodine, iron, and potassium than any of the previously mentioned sea vegetables, along with 12 vitamins, over 60 minerals, and 21 amino acids. It can be used raw, but is commonly used in cooking. We have a couple products on our website that tout kelp as an ingredient, including skin care (like Dr. Alkaitis’ Toner and Soothing Gel – see more below)! It’s great for you, inside and out. One of our favorite ways to enjoy this seaweed is by eating our kelp noodles. These noodles are raw and made from kelp and require no cooking. Simply rinse them and top them with your favorite sauce and vegetables They make an awesome pad thai! We also sell a Kelp Shaker so you can easily shake it on anything you’re eating. Sarma even shakes some into her dog Leon’s food sometimes…kelp is good for your pets! Along with dulse, kelp is included as one of the ingredients in Green Mush, a great green supplement for your four-legged companions.
Unfortunately, this wonderful seaweed is mostly known by it’s counterpart, carrageenan. Carrageenan is a highly processed version of Irish Moss and, in this processed form, has actually been linked to tumors, gastrointestinal disorders, and inflammation. It also has zero nutritional value. Pure, raw, unadulterated Irish Moss, like we sell, however, has quite the opposite affect. It’s been know to be soothing for gastrointestinal ailments like nausea and constipation, have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, help with cold symptoms, and do wonders topically!
We love using Irish Moss mostly as a thickener. It gels up in warm water, and can be used in a bunch of different recipes, from pudding to nut milk, and in many of the desserts in Sarma’s second book.
Seaweed for Beauty
Kelp, and other seaweeds, are commonly used in beauty products. Besides being nourishing, they’re also known for being firming, detoxifying, and hydrating – all things your skin and hair need! Some of the wonderful Glow products we have with seaweed are Dr. Alkaitis Soothing Gel, Dr. Alkaitis Purifying Facial Cleanser (or find both in the Alkaitis Travel Kit), Black Velvet Facial Cleanser, Pack Your Bags Eye Gel, Face the Day Serum, Plump Up the Volume Facial Spray (or get both of them in the C-Weed Sample Pack), and Rose du Jour Day Cream.
Can’t decide what seaweed journey you want to go on? If you’re looking for all the nutritional value of seaweed, look no further than one of our favorite supplements, Vitamineral Greens. Not only does this green powder have amazing ingredients like moringa, greens, and probiotics, but it also has an abundance of sea vegetables. Vitamineral Greens has Alaria, Bladderwrack, Kelp, Dulse, Lavar, and Nori!