Vegetables of the Seaaaa

So today was one of the days scheduled at school where I was super excited because I would be learning about something completely and utterly new to me... sea vegetables!! This mainly refers to seaweeds and algae, and they are often used in Japanese (also other Asian countries) and macrobiotic cuisine. Absolutely fascinating!! I have only had commercial seaweed salad, the nori used in sushi rolls, and agar (an algae) used to thicken vegan desserts. I clearly had much to learn, haha!

Because sea vegetables grow under the water, they actually contain more chlorophyll than other plants... which means they also have a much denser concentration of nutrients in their leaves! In addition, because they grow in sea water they benefit from the minerals found in sea salt and thus contain many minerals not found in other foods! Here is a short list of some of the amazing things found in sea vegetables: calcium, protein, iron, phosphorous, bromine, iodine, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A-D, zinc, chromium, flouride... the list goes on. Moral of the story: eat your sea vegetables!

Now tasting all of these treats was interesting... most of the ones we tasted relatively plain were VERY fishy tasting. When I say that, I do not mean salty.... yes, they are salty. BUT I am referring to a fishy taste.. one that brings back memories of eating at seafood shacks in Maine in the summer. Very bizarre sensation for someone who hasn't eaten anything remotely close to fish since she was 16 years old. However, by the end of the class... the taste had begun to grow on me.

This afternoon, we took everything we had learned and got to each make something using one of the sea vegetables. I was given a recipe for Coffee Custard. Where are the sea vegetables in that, you say? Well, I got to use agar and kuzu (both algae and common thickening agents) to thicken a vegan custard. The great thing about this is that you still get all of the health benefits of sea vegetables with absolutely no taste whatsoever. GREAT if you have picky children! This custard was DELICIOUS! You could really make it any flavor... but this one was maple and coffee... sooooo yummy. Others made Hijiki "caviar," various seaweed and cucumber salads, stir fries, etc.

I will definitely be eating more sea vegetables in the future, and you all should too! Haha, you must think I'm becoming more and more insane at this point... a little brainwashed maybe, BUT all the healthier because of it!