Sweet Sharla

This months guest writer is  Whole Food Chef – Sharla Cooper sharing her osteoporosis prevention food – seaweed and it’s health benefits.

Building strong bones is an important foundation of creating good health and longevity.  Looking beyond the land and into the vast ocean we can find a wealth of nutrition and nutrients.

Seaweeds are the green garden of the oceans and have been used throughout the world for a source of health and longevity.  Sea vegetables have 10 to 20 times the amount of usable minerals than land vegetables, which makes them a invaluable source of nutrients.  Mineral rich foods nourish the blood which create healthy bones, nails, hair and teeth.

Food from the sea- Seaweed

It is known in the East, that hair represents the blood in the body and can greatly be nourished by the long tendrils of sea plants that live in the ocean.   In addition to its impressive mineral rich profile, sea plants are an excellent source of iron, calcium, iodine, protein, amino acids and vitamins.

Hiziki

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Seaweeds such as Wakame and Hijiki contain almost ten times the amount of calcium of milk.  Even in small amounts, sea vegetables can provide benefits to the body.  The best way to enjoy and harness the benefits of seaweed, is to cook them into food and implement  them into the diet on a regular basis.  In Chinese medicine, seaweeds have a cooling effect on the body, they cleanse the blood, softens hard lumps and cysts, reduces swelling and disperses phlegm.

The Kidneys, Liver and Stomach all benefit from the regular use of sea plants, by building and

Seaweed Salad

detoxifying and directing energy deeper into the organs.  It is a common tradition to fix seaweed soup for women after giving birth as it helps restore the nutrients lost during child birth, cleanses the body of accumulation and helps fortify and strengthen lactation.

Seaweeds are also a known remedy to weight accumulation in the body and can help in gently flushing out toxins by improving water metabolism.  No matter what your constitution, anyone can benefit from these gifts from the sea and cooking with them is simple and delicious.

You can start here with this simple and delicious recipe.

Black bean and Seaweed soup:

Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dried black beans, soaked for 8 hours or overnight with a pinch of celtic sea salt
  • 1 piece of kombu seaweed
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup of diakon radish or carrot
  • 1 oz of hijiki seaweed, soaked in water for 5-7 minutes, drain
  • 1 oz of wakame seaweed, soaked for 5-7 minutes, drain
  • 1 Tbsp unpasteurized miso, diluted in 1/2 cup of water
  • fresh chopped green onions to top
  1. Place drained and rinsed black beans in a soup pot with 6 cups of water and kombu.  Cook for 1 hour.
  2. Put in ginger, fennel, carrot or daikon, and shiitakes.
  3. Cook for another 30-45 minutes.  Check the beans for softness.  When the beans are still firm soft, add in hijiki, wakame and a pinch of celtic sea salt.
  4. Cook until beans are soft and flavors harmonize.  Take off heat and add miso to individual portions of soup and top with chopped green onions.
  5. Enjoy!

From Jill Gusman book: Vegetables from the Sea – everyday cooking with sea greens (Great book for your food library).

Edible seaweed, also called sea vegetables, refers to marine growth or algae.  Seaweed grows in polar and tropical seas, usually near coastlines where it attaches to undersea rock formations.  Sea vegetables – seaweed that is harvested for eating- are taken only from plants attached to the ocean floor and rocks in deep water.  Most edible seaweed is harvested in cold ocean waters.  In the US, harvests take place off the coasts of Maine and Washington, although some of the most delicious wakame, kombu, and sea palm are gathered off the coast of Mendocino, California.

Most of us have been at the beach at low tide when uprooted seaweed drapes the coastline. These plants are never to be picked for eating because they are in a state of decay.  Their smell is not pleasing and their seaweed is often sticky and sandy.  Once uprooted seaweed is not edible.  It must not be eaten.

Seaweed tips:

When I cook my brown rice (after it’s been soaked for 8 hours) I cut-up break up pieces of Kombu (also referred to as Kelp) and cook it with my rice.

As a salt substitute, I use Dulse (found in Whole Foods and most health food stores) by Maine Coast Sea Vegetables www.seaveg.com

One of my favorite staples is easy-to-make Miso Soup

Organic Ingredients:

3 shitake mushrooms (dried are also okay as long as not from China)

2 carrots sliced

¼ cup Wakame

2 cups of baby spinach

½ block of extra firm organic tofu

6 – 8 cups of water

3 tablespoons of miso either white, barley, or red.  Try them all!

1 medium onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Dice onion and sauté with olive in a 3 quart pot for approx. 5 minutes.
  2. Reconstitute the Wakame in boiling water for 5-10 minute.
  3. Add sliced carrots (about ¼ inch round) and continue to sauté.
  4. If using dried shitake soak in 1 cup of hot water to reconstitute
  5. Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil
  6. Slice shitakes and add to water
  7. Cut tofu into small cubes, add baby spinach and cook for 5 minutes
  8. Take Soup off the burner.    Using 1 cup of soup water in a separate bowl, dissolve miso paste and add to soup .  Start with 2 tablespoons of Miso, add more depending on your desired taste.
  9. DO NOT BRING TO A BOIL AS THE ENZYMES IN THE MISO WILL BE DESTROYED

Miso Health benefits:

Anticarcinogen, effective in reducing the effects of radiation, smoking air pollution and other environmental toxins.  Miso is an invaluable digestive aid, and a concentrated protein source, containing a rich amino acid profile of 8 essential amino acids.

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