Healing with Sea Vegetables

January 19, 2010

Photo Courtesy of timbu on Flickr

As someone who has always had an aversion to seafood, you never could have told me I’d learn to incorporate sea vegetables into my diet. But after coming to realize the incredible health benefits these gems from the water offer, I have found a number of ways to do so that are actually quite delicious.

In traditional Chinese healing, sea vegetables correspond to the winter season and to the kidneys, adrenal glands, bladder and reproductive organs. The strengthening, balancing and cleansing properties of sea vegetables are known to help these organs as well as the hair, skin and nails. Sea vegetables (or seaweeds) provide a variety of minerals and vitamins, including calcium, iron and iodine, and can help balance hormone and thyroid levels in the body. Eating too many processed foods or foods grown in mineral-depleted soil can result in a lack of minerals in the body, leading to cravings for salty or sugary foods. Adding sea vegetables to your diet can help balance your energy levels and alleviate cravings.

If you are like me, and a little wary of where to begin, try Kombu. It is sold in packages of several strips, which last an incredibly long time. Add a small piece to the pot when you are cooking grains, soups, and stews and then remove it at the end (it will soften and expand during cooking). This will not affect the taste of your foods, but will allow them to absorb all of the wonderful nutrients regardless.

Or if you are ready to go a bit further, try this recipe for a yummy winter soup:

Mighty Miso Soup
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Yield: 4-5 servings

Ingredients:
4-5 cups spring water
1-2 inch strip of wakame, rinsed and soaked 5 minutes in 1 cup of water until softened
1-2 cups thinly sliced vegetables of your choice (see notes)
2-3 teaspoons barley miso
2 scallions, finely chopped

Directions:
-Chop soaked wakame.
-Discard soaking water or use on houseplants for a boost of minerals.
-Place water and wakame in a soup pot and bring to a boil.
-Add root vegetables first and simmer gently for 5 minutes or until tender.
-Add leafy vegetables and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
-Remove about 1/2 cup of liquid from pot and dissolve miso into it. Return it to the pot.
-Reduce heat to very low; do not boil or simmer miso broth.
-Allow soup to cook 2-3 minutes.
-Garnish with scallions and serve.

Note:
Any combination of vegetables can be used in miso soup. Here are some classic combinations:
-onion-daikon: cleansing
-onion-carrot-shiitake mushroom-kale: mildly sweet
-onion-winter squash-cabbage: great in wintertime
-leek-corn-broccoli: great in summertime

Variations:
-Add cooked grains at the start of making the soup. They will become nice and soft.
-Add a tablespoon of uncooked quinoa or millet at the beginning and let it cook with vegetables for 20 minutes.
-Add cubed tofu toward the end.
-Add bean sprouts toward the end.
-Season with 1/2 teaspoon ginger juice for an interesting twist.
-If using dry shiitake mushrooms, let them soak for 20 minutes, slice and add at the beginning.

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One Response to “Healing with Sea Vegetables”

  1. Rick Diamond Says:

    I work for a leading publisher of raw, vegan, vegetarian and alternative health books. I thought you would be interested in a book we publish. It is Sea Vegetable Celebration by Shep Erhart and Leslie Cerier. It contains over 100 recipes using nori, kelp, dulce, and other sea vegetables in baked goods, soups, salads, main dishes, and more. Here is the link to information about the book on our website: http://www.bookpubco.com/products/sea-vegetable-celebration.

    Please let me know if you would be interested in reviewing the book on your blog. If so, I will send you a review copy.

    Best wishes,

    Rick Diamond
    Marketing Dept.
    Book Publishing Company
    http://www.bookpubco.com


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