My first experience with seaweed was in the form of a cracker my aunt tried (unsuccessfully) to pass off as a regular Mr. Christie.
Little did she know, I wasn’t fooled. However, she was obviously well aware her niece wouldn’t want to upset her by turning down the offering so I summoned the willpower and forced it down. Despite my then picky palate, I found the cracker surprisingly tasty.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I tried seaweed again in the form of a nori roll.
This time, I fell in love with the taste and was intrigued by the recipe applications discussed in the kitchen that day (I happened to be with a professional chef – lucky me).
I later experimented with ways to incorporate different types of seaweed into my meals, some of which included using kelp noodles in dishes that traditionally called for wheat or rice-based noodles, dulse flakes to add flavour to soups, nori sheets in replace of whole grain wraps and spirulina to enhance morning smoothies.
From a nutritional perspective, here are some reasons why you should incorporate seaweed, too.
• Sea vegetables are considered dark leafy greens, which help prevent cancer. Break up your salad repertoire by adding seaweed or replacing it for other types of greens.
• It’s high in iodine, a mineral used by the thyroid gland to produce hormones that regulate the metabolism.
• Move over broccoli, seaweed is an excellent source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth.
• Believe it or not, seaweed provides protein. Most commonly associated with building and maintaining muscle mass, protein also helps to heal bruises and wounds and aids in proper digestion.
• Feeling sluggish? You may be low in vitamin B12, which is required for red blood cell production. As the most important function of a red blood cell is to transport oxygen, it’s essential to consume foods containing vitamin B12, such as seaweed.
If you’re new to using seaweed, roll up your sleeves and try this fun and healthy recipe for Brown Rice Maki Rolls. They’re gluten-free and make a delicious snack and addition to a party appetizer tray.
Brown Rice Maki Rolls
These mouth-watering whole grain brown rice maki rolls combine sweet red bell pepper with mango and creamy avocado for a deliciously light and refreshing bite.
2 cups water
1 cup short grain brown rice
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tsp sugar, divided
3 tbsp rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1/4 tsp salt
4 pieces toasted nori seaweed
16 pieces julienned red bell pepper
16 pieces julienned avocado
16 pieces julienned peeled mango
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
In large saucepan, bring water and rice to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 40 minutes (this time can vary greatly depending on brand of rice and size of pot, so start checking at 30 minutes).
If liquid is absorbed, but rice is still too hard, let sit covered for up to 20 minutes and rice will soften. Do not stir rice while it is cooking.
Meanwhile, combine mirin, soy sauce and 1 1/2 tsp of the sugar. Bring to a simmer in a small saucepan until slightly thickened, about three minutes. Set aside.
Spread the warmed rice onto a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk together the vinegar, salt and remaining sugar. Drizzle over rice and toss with two spatulas to coat rice.
Place a piece of nori on a bamboo mat (or using a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil) with the short side facing you. Wet your fingertips with warm water and pat about 1/2 cup of the seasoned rice into a two-inch wide strip on the bottom of the sheet.
Drizzle 1 tsp of the mirin sauce over the rice; place four strips each red pepper, avocado and mango over the sauce; then sprinkle with about 1 tsp of the toasted sesame seeds. Using the bamboo mat to help you, roll the maki closed, getting the mat out from inside the maki as it rolls up.
Gently press the closed mat over the roll to seal the roll. Trim any ragged edges and slice into 6 pieces with a wet sharp knife.
Repeat with the remaining nori, rice, pepper, avocado and mango. Serve the rolls with any remaining sauce.
~ Recipe courtesy of www.riceinfo.com
Jessica’s first foray into the food industry was in Grade 5 when she wrote The Sweet Tooth Recipe Book and sold to raise money for the Hospital for Sick Children. While her sweet tooth has subsided, her passion for healthy living has grown and is what led her to a career in food and beverage communications. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaSquibb.