Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Earth’s Greatest Superfoods – Sea Vegetables

Plants do not obtain food by the same process that people and animals do. They get their nutrition to sustain life through the process of photosynthesis. This basically means that plants depend upon themselves to make their own food using simple raw materials, including light, water, and the carbon dioxide that we exhale. Just as plants do this, so do some other organisms such as algae (sea vegetables) and certain bacteria. These organisms, along with plants, have the green pigment from chlorophyll to help with photosynthesis. Meanwhile, all these other organisms have a food chain that ultimately relies on some organism consuming plants somewhere down the line for energy. There are thousands of species of algae, which can be brown, red, and green in color. They mostly live in water (both fresh water and marine water), but they can also live in damp soil and on rocks. Algae is very important to our Earth and the life on it, as it’s responsible for producing most of the oxygen on the planet. The more common algae that live in fresh water are referred to as Spirulina and Chlorella. Spirulina is considered blue-green algae, while Chlorella is considered just green. Spirulina grows mostly in fresh water ponds, rivers, and lakes. Spirulina is a close cousin of Chlorella, and more closely related to other sea vegetables such as Kelp. Chlorella also tend to occupy in fresh water, but are often microscopic in comparison to Spirulina. Chlorella is a true single-cell alga with a nucleus, while Spirulina is a multi-celled plant with no distinctive nucleus. Chlorella has a cell wall that is indigestible to humans. In the supplement form, chlorella has been processed to dissolve the cell wall for easier consumption, which makes it quite expensive in comparison to other marine water algae supplements.

In the ocean, the very small marine algae are considered phytoplankton. The larger forms are referred to as seaweed. Unlike other algae, seaweed does not have roots; therefore, seaweed photosynthesize in all of their tissues, whereas most plants photosynthesize in only their leaves. Some of the more edible varieties of seaweed include Kelp, Wakame, Dulse, Nori, Sea Lettuce, and Irish Moss to name a few.

Sea vegetables are super rich with chlorophyll. In fact, their chlorophyll content is far superior to any plant leaf.  Additionally, they are the best sources of other minerals. Algae and seaweed are high in iodine, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B, C, and K, fiber, and protein. They are also very potent sources of antioxidants. In fact, they are considered some of the richest plant sources of calcium. Because of the very high content of nutrients, some caution should be taken when consuming these algae on a regular basis. For instance, the potassium level in certain varieties of seaweed is considerably higher than that of a banana. Their iodine levels are much more naturally concentrated; thus, additional supplementation should be reduced to a minimum, if not removed from the diet altogether.

These amazing sea vegetables or seaweed are the perfect food. They are the perfect superfood! So when adding the most nutrient-dense, dark leafy vegetable(s) to your daily diet regime, also consider adding some blue green algae or seaweed. A little bit can go a long way, and there are a variety of ways to consume these sea vegetables. You can purchase these amazing super foods in supplement form, concentrated powder. Most seaweed is sold in dried form, and can be found at Asian markets, health food stores, some grocery, as well as through online markets. Sea vegetables are great for digestion, low in calories, high in nutrients, and high in mineral content. There are measurable amounts of other key minerals and trace elements as well, such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vanadium, and zinc, in addition to iodine.

When taking sea vegetables in supplement form, be sure to only purchase high-quality products. Sea Veg® is one of the best natural brands on the market, and it is produced by a company called FarmaSea®. The product is made of a propriety blend of 12 organic nutrient-rich whole sea plants. 

Look for product review post in the near future.

Sea Greens Cucumber Roll-up

Sea vegetables are delicious and easy to prepare meals with. Each variety has its own unique taste, and can enhance the flavors of the foods its combined with. One of my favorite dishes to make using seaweed is my raw vegan version of tuna salad. It’s super easy to make, and incredibly delicious. I also enjoy simple seaweed salads. Check out my recipes below.


Mock Tuna Salad
2 cups almonds
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley (chopped)
3 T fresh lemon juice
½ tsp Garlic powder to taste
1 tsp Nama Shoyu or sea salt to taste
½-1 tsp Bragg Kelp Delight Seasoning to taste
1-2 dashes ground cayenne pepper
½ - 1/3 cup Wakame seaweed (soaked)

Initial Preparation:
Drain seaweed and chop well. Set aside. Place almonds in a food processor and process until crumbly. Add remaining ingredients. Continue processing until all ingredients are finally chopped and mixed. Consistency should be similar to “canned” tuna. Remove from processor and store in an air-tight glass container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. This is the base tuna “meat”.

Mock Tuna
To make the tuna salad, you will need the following additional ingredients:
1 avocado
1 date (pitted)
1 stalk celery with or without leaves

Tuna Salad Preparation: 
Chop celery into small pieces and combine with “tuna” mixture. Peel and chop avocado. Finally chop date, and combine avocado and date in a mixing bowl, or in the food processor. Mash with a fork, or process, until smooth like mayonnaise. Fold the avocado mayo into the tuna base, and mix well. (Mayo will not keep as long. Therefore, when combined with mock tuna, reduce storage time by a few days. Mock tuna salad is ready to use in a sandwich, as a spread, or in a salad.) Enjoy!

Mock Tuna Salad on Lettuce, Mock Tuna Salad Sandwich (From Left to Right)

Seaweed Salad with Avocado and Cucumber
Seaweed Salad with Avocado and Cucumber 
Makes 1 to 2 servings.

1 package mixed seaweed salad*
½ large cucumber (peeled)
1 avocado (peeled, and pitted)

Soak seaweed in purified water until completely constituted. Drain well, and slightly dry on paper towel. Cut cucumber and avocado into small chunks. . Add all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Lightly toss, and serve. This is a quick and fresh way to consume seaweed. 

In addition to adding spirulina, chlorella, and other lake algae powders to smoothies and juices, you can make delicious raw crackers, exotic chocolates, and snack balls too. Here’s a recipe for sesame crackers made with spirulina powder:

Spirulina Crackers
Spirulina Crackers 
½ cup sesame seeds
2-3 small to medium size bananas (peeled)
1 cup shredded coconut
¼-½ cup raw honey (or ½ to 1 cup pitted dates)
1 tsp vanilla
1 T spirulina powder
Dash sea salt

Combine bananas, honey, vanilla, sea salt, and spirulina into a high-speed blender or food processor. Mix until smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in sesame seeds. Mix well. Spread over dehydrator sheets, and place in dehydrator and dry for 2-3 hours. Score mixture into equal-sized squares. Place back in the dehydrator for another 8-10 hours until totally dry and crisp. Best oven temperature is 105 to 114 F, depending on dehydrator.

Recommended Products:

        Sunburst Superfoods - Spirulina Powder SeaVegi Seaweed Salad Mix

Article References:

Seaweed: The Green Superfood You’re Not Eating — But Should Be, by Nick English. 08/21/2013. The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/21/superfood-seaweed-health-benefits_n_3786076.html

What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Seaweed? by Sylvie Tremblay, MSc, Demand Media. Healthy Eating. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-eating-seaweed-6373.html

Nutritional and digestive health benefits of seaweed. by Rajapakse N1, Kim SK. 2011. 1Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. n_rajapakse@yahoo.com. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22054935

We Should Be Eating Seaweed by the Bucketload, by Gareth May. August 27, 2014. Munchies. https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/we-should-be-eating-seaweed-by-the-bucketload

Modes of Nutrition in Plants and Animals (with diagrams), by Deeptirekha Jain Essay. BiologyDiscussion.com. 2013. http://www.biologydiscussion.com/essay/modes-of-nutrition-in-plants-and-animals-with-diagrams/1525

Types of Microorganisms. Boundless.com. https://www.boundless.com/microbiology/textbooks/boundless-microbiology-textbook/introduction-to-microbiology-1/microbes-and-the-world-19/types-of-microorganisms-207-1066/

The Most Important Organism? by Dr. Jack Hall, September 12, 2011. Ecology.com. http://www.ecology.com/2011/09/12/important-organism/

Seaweeds: Plants or Algae? Point Reyes National Seashore Association. http://www.ptreyes.org/activities/seaweeds-plants-or-algae

Superfoods, by David Wolfe. North Atlantic Books. Berkley, California, 2009

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