Food Science Slice: Incredible, Edible Algae!

Seaweeds are good for you and good for the planet. So why aren’t we eating more of them?

As dark, leafy greens go, seaweeds are about as nutrient dense as it gets. With more iron than red meat, more vitamin C than citrus fruits and more vitamin D than milk, these sea vegetables sit atop the gold medal podium of the dietary Olympics.

They’re also the only naturally occurring significant source of iodine in our food supply. Iodine is one of those micronutrients that’s hard to come by, which is why it’s added to “iodized” table salt. It’s an essential component of thyroid hormones, which regulate important biochemical reactions in the body. Iodine deficiencies can impair mental functions, cause severe birth defects, and result in the enlargement of the thyroid gland-a goiter on the neck.

Historically, the area where the Wedge sits now was once part of the so called “goiter belt” around the Great Lakes, because iodine deficiency was a common problem prior to the 1920s. Iodized salt first became available on grocery stores in Michigan on May 1, 1924, and since then the U.S. has been largely free of the problem. But it is still prevalent in Southeast Asia, Africa the Eastern Mediterranean.

Just a gram of seaweed meets your daily iodine needs. But if you didn’t grow up in a small fishing village in Japan, you might not know where to begin. So here’s quick overview of all things seaweed to get you started!

Nori
Algae that’s dried into crisp, paper-thin, ready-to-eat sheets. Often sold toasted for use in sushi or as a snack.

Kombu
This big-leafed kelp is used to make dashi, the Japanese master broth that’s a ramen essential.

Wakame
Bright green and tender when rehydrated, it’s subtly sweet and often used in seaweed salad and miso soup.

You can find seaweed products throughout the store in aisles 1 and 2. Explore our Bulk Department’s offerings of arame, kombu, dulse, Atlantic kelp and wakame. In additional, look for our WedgeMade Edamame and Seaweed Salad in the deli case.

5 ways to step up your seaweed game

1 BRAISE

      • Add a piece of kombu to meat or veggie braises during the last hour of cooking to impart depth.

2 SPRINKLE

      • Pulverize dried seaweed in a food processor and keep on the dining room table, just like salt and pepper. Great on scrambled eggs, white rice, even in sprinkled in a smoothie!

3 SALAD

      • Soak and drain wakame leaves, then toss with a dressing of sesame oil, ginger and soy. Top with sliced carrots, radishes, cucumber, green onion and avocado.

4 PESTO

      • Rehydrate toasted nori sheets in water for 1 minute, then blitz in a blender with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Dollop on fish, steamed rice or soup broth. A great cold-weather substitution for basil.

5 SNACK

    • Toasted nori sheets come in fun flavors like roasted sesame and wasabi, perfect for cutting down on your potato chip habit.