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Sea vegetables

What’s not amazing about those gelatinous aquatic plants that float through or anchor themselves in all the earth’s water habitats? Usually considered a vegetable, seaweed can be used in a number of recipes and is chock full of nutrients. Out of about 25,000 species, nearly 50 can be consumed.

Appearance

Seaweed comes without a flower, stem, or root. The edible part, called the thallus, and the colour vary according to the species. Colours include brown, green, red, and blue-green.

Varieties

Seaweed is divided into four main groups based on colour. Brown seaweed includes varieties such as kombu, wakame, and kelp; an example of green seaweed is sea lettuce; red: Irish moss and nori; and finally, blue-green seaweed: spirulina.

Nutritional aspects

A nutritional gem, seaweed is loaded with minerals and vitamins absorbed from its environment. It is also a source of fibre and some varieties contain protein. Brown seaweed is known to contain the antioxidant carotenoid, and some varieties, including kombu, are high in iodine, an essential nutrient for thyroid function. However, seaweed should be eaten in moderation or seaweed lovers should chose varieties that contain less iodine (like nori). Red seaweed, for its part, contains iron and magnesium.

Cooking

Seaweed can be eaten raw or cooked and prepared in a number of ways: grilled, fried, or marinated. It can be part of every course, from starter to dessert, adding a little extra oomph to soups and salads while serving as a great side to fish and vegetable dishes. Most dry seaweed needs to be soaked for 5 to 30 minutes before use, except for nori and spirulina varieties. You can keep the water you use to soak the seaweed to make a delicious broth. Seaweed can also speed up the cooking time of starches and legumes while making them easier to digest…something we love! In a salad, sandwich or smoothie, seaweed is a versatile option you can add to just about anything. Give it a try!