“Sea vegetables” is a term that encompasses edible red, green and brown marine algae commonly known as seaweed. Though many Americans are not familiar with them, cultures in Asia, Britain and the Caribbean have consumed them for years. Sea vegetables feature fiber, protein, antioxidant chlorophyll and nutrients including potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron, iodine, vitamins A and C and riboflavin. They absorb sunlight as they grow in the water and take up minerals from the ocean; both factors contribute to their nutrition status.
Sea vegetables are sometimes controversial because they also take up toxins and damaging trace elements such as arsenic, lead and cadmium from the ocean. Look for sourcing you can trust that provides sustainable, certified organic products that have been tested for purity. Organic certified seaweeds cannot contain heavy metals and other contaminants.
For more information on varieties and culinary uses, check out "Edible Seaweed" from the March/April 2014 issue of Food & Nutrition Magazine.
Looking for even more ways to incorporate sea vegetables as nutrition powerhouses into your diet? See the original recipe below.
Non-Sushi Nori Wraps
Recipe developed by Ginger Hultin, MS, RD, LDN
Yields 12 pieces
6 large square sheets nori
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup prepared brown rice
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 jalapeño, diced
¼ cup green onions, finely chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup fresh salsa
- Prepare nori sheets by placing them between two damp paper towels to increase pliability.
- Heat oil in a medium pan and sauté garlic for 1 minute.
- Add rice, beans, cabbage, carrots, jalapeño, green onions, cilantro, cumin and salt. Stir to combine and cook until heated through and vegetables have softened, about 4-5 minutes.
- Lay nori sheets on a flat surface and spread 1/3 cup of filling across end of each sheet. Roll nori tightly around the filling, like a sushi roll. Moisten the free flap with water or some salsa so it will stick together. Cut rolls in half and serve with additional fresh salsa for dipping.
Nutritional info per serving (2 slices): Calories: 251; Carbohydrate: 43.2 g; Fiber: 10.1 g; Protein: 13.1 g; Total fat: 3.4 g; Sodium: 461 mg; Star nutrients: Potassium 915 mg, Vitamin A (15% DV), calcium (8% DV), Vitamin C (19% DV), Iron (22%DV)