7 Superfoods from the Sea By Abby Cohen
If you’re like me, you love the idea of dining on organic broccoli, skinless chicken, and fat-free water. And if you are me, you know I’m kidding. For me, that kind of meal doesn’t get past the idea stage, though fantasizing about it makes inhaling a hot fudge sundae even more awesome. I mean, I know the right diet is the fastest route to healthy bones, healthy skin, and healthy everything else.
But does eating like that have to be so challenging? And—let’s face it—a giant snoozefest? Of course not! This is Beachbody®, after all—where we learn how to replace unhealthy choices with helpful ones that are also fun. Like this: To make any meal massively nutritious, just add a smattering of sea vegetables. Now I’m not advising you to sprinkle seaweed on your ice cream. But you can use savory, all-natural marine plants to give your entrée more nutritional punch or whip up a healthy, tasty side dish. Sea vegetables—like arame, wakame, nori, and others described in this article—offer generous portions of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein, but almost zero cholesterol. And you can find them at most Asian markets, or at a Whole Foods-type grocery store.
To make your next meal healthier than ever, try one of these delicious recipes. Each of them is so simple, even the worst chef on earth can prepare them. (I should know, because that’s me!)
1.Wakame (wah-KAH-mee). An excellent source of omega 3s, calcium, iodine, and niacin, wakame adds a mild salty flavor to this scrumptious superfood rice recipe.
Wakame Brown Rice
• 2-1/4 cups water
• 1 cup brown rice
• 1 Tbsp. butter (optional)
• 1 tsp. salt (optional)
• 1 Tbsp. wakame flakes
• 2 cups water
• 1 ripe avocado (diced)
• 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Bring water, brown rice, butter, and salt to boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender (45 to 50 minutes). Soak wakame in 2 cups water for 5 minutes; drain in a mesh strainer. Scoop rice into a bowl and gently fold in wakame, avocado, and sesame seeds. Serve warm or cold.
2.Dulse (DOLSS). What’s yummier than a BLT? A DLT—packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein. Slightly spicy dulse also comes in sheets or ready-to-eat flakes to shake onto pizza or salad.
Dulse, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich (DLT)
• Dulse flakes or sheets (enough to cover one slice of bread)
• 1 to 2 tsp. refined sesame oil
• 2 slices tomato
• 1 slice toasted wheat bread
• 1 tsp. low-fat mayo
Lightly coat a small pan with sesame oil and place over high heat. Pan-fry dulse in sesame oil until it crisps, turns yellow/green, and smells like bacon. Spread mayo on toast and add lettuce, dulse, and tomato. Voilà: a DLT!
3.Nori (NOR-ee). As seen on sushi—now available in soup. That’s right: Nori is the traditional sushi wrap. It’s also chock-full of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, calcium, iron, and protein. And it’s pretty—why not try it as a garnish?
• 1 lb. ground pork
• 2 qt. water
• 1 cube chicken bouillon
• 1 8-oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained
• 3 sheets nori (dry seaweed), broken into pieces
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 4 green onions, chopped
• 3/4 tsp. sesame oil
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook in ground pork until browned. Drain off excess fat and add water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir in bouillon cube to dissolve, then add water chestnuts and nori. Stir in egg and season with salt. Remove from heat and mix in green onions and sesame oil. Serve immediately.
4.Arame (ar-AH-may). Sprinkle it in soups. Shower it on salads. Arame’s a mild, semisweet kelp that provides calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, and vitamin A wherever it goes.
Arame and Sugar Snap Pea Salad
• 1 cup dry arame
• 2 cups filtered water
• 1 cup diagonally sliced sugar snap peas
• 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
• 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
• 1/4 tsp. ground dried chili pepper
Soak arame in filtered water for at least 2 hours. Squeeze all excess liquid from arame and place in clean mixing bowl. Add sugar snap peas. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and chili pepper. Pour dressing over arame and peas. Toss well to mix. Serve immediately, or will keep in fridge for 1 day.
5.Hijiki (hee-JEE-kee). With a texture like spaghetti but worlds more nutritious, this sea plant has vitamins C and A, calcium, and iron. Milky, salty hijiki must be soaked and chopped before you cook it, then simmered for 45 minutes to make sure it’s tender. (Like some people I know.)
Hijiki with Carrots
• 1/2 cup dried hijiki
• 1/2 cup warm water
• 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
• 1/2 cup julienned carrots
• 2 tsp. lemon juice or rice vinegar
• 1/4 tsp. sea salt
• White pepper (to taste)
• Toasted sesame seeds (to taste)
Rinse hijiki to remove any sand. Place hijiki in a bowl with warm water. Soak for 15 minutes. In a small saucepan, heat sesame oil over low-medium heat. Add carrots and cook until softened. Add hijiki, lemon juice or vinegar, sea salt, and a dash of white pepper to carrots. Heat through. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve warm or cool.
6.Kombu (KOM-boo). A kelp loaded with glutamic acid that helps build protein, kombu is often used for soup stock. In fact, it’s considered one Japan’s five basic tastes—for realsies.
Dashi (Japanese Sea Stock)
• 6 cups cold water
• 1 oz. dried kombu (about 20 square inches)
• 1 cup katsuo bushi (dried bonito flakes—about 10 g)
Bring cold water and kombu just to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat and remove kombu. Use liquid as soup base for whatever ingredients you prefer. Suggestions: sliced cooked chicken, green onions, or anything else that makes you happy!
7.Sea Lettuce (SEE LET-us). Actually a green algae, sea lettuce has a strong seafood taste and is high in protein, soluble dietary fiber, and iron. Its scientific name is Ulva, which is why we call it sea lettuce.
Toasted Sea Lettuce
• 6 sheets sea lettuce
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1-1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil
Clean the sea lettuce. Mix salt and sesame oil and rub a thin coat on the sea lettuce. Stack all 6 sheets of sea lettuce together, roll them up, and let them stand for 5 minutes. Unroll and cook each sheet separately in hot pan over low heat until crisp. Cut sheets into bite-sized pieces and serve with hot rice.