Seaweed and algae—they’re not just things that stick to you when you swim in a lake. Actually, algae is the general term for all seaweed, which can range from single-celled organisms to complex plants. These superfoods are amazing sources of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, and some of them also have amazing flavors.
Seaweeds are an excellent source of iodine. If you use sea salt instead of table salt, you may have noticed warnings that your salt does not provide iodine. However, if you eat seaweed, you will have a natural source of iodine in your diet, and you can continue to enjoy the health benefits and superior taste of sea salt.
Seaweed is also an amazing source of minerals, including magnesium. Magnesium is known as the relaxation mineral, and can support relaxation in the body and mind. Seaweed also provides iron, calcium, and trace minerals such as zinc.
There are many different ways to use seaweed and algae, either in supplement form or in cooking and smoothies, and there are plenty of different varieties to try. You might like the taste and texture of one better than another, so don’t give up on them even if you’ve tried one you didn’t enjoy. Below we will introduce a few different varieties and talk about what to do with them.
Dulse is one of the best-tasting and easiest seaweeds to use. It comes either in dried strips or in flakes, which can be shaken over soups, salads, grains, and noodles. The strips have a slightly chewy texture and a pleasantly salty taste. They are good mixed with nuts and eaten as a snack, or mixed into almost any savory dish. Their flavor works especially well with seafood dishes.
Nori comes in flat, deep-green sheets and is used to make sushi. This is a great seaweed to experiment with by rolling up veggies to make vegetable sushi. Try adding hummus or another spread to the roll, or dip the finished roll in a peanut sauce. Briefly dip each sheet of nori in warm water right before rolling, to make it more pliable. Nori is also delicious in its dry sheet form, and it is actually sold in packets of tiny sheets as a salty snack for kids.
Kelp comes in flakes that can be sprinkled over anything (try popcorn), or big strips that can be added to soup or broth for an instant mineral boost—just discard the strip at the end of cooking.
Wakame has a delicious flavor and is used in many seaweed salads, found at sushi restaurants. This seaweed is usually sold dried, and should be rehydrated in water or broth before use. Mix it with a light dressing and use it to top a salad.
Spirulina has a strong flavor and works best added in small amounts to smoothies, or taken as a supplement in capsule or tablet form. Spirulina is quickly absorbed in the body and is excellent for increasing energy. It also supplies B vitamins, iron, and other nutrients.
Chlorella can be treated like spirulina, as a supplement. Make sure to look for “cracked cell wall” chlorella—this process allows humans to digest the algae, which has a tough outer cell wall. Chlorella is also packed with nutrients, and supports detoxification.
Enerfood contains spirulina, chlorella, dulse, and kelp (along with herbs, vegetables, and health-boosting supplements—full ingredients here). This is an easy way to get in four types of algae/seaweed every day. Either add it to a smoothie, or mix it with water and gulp it down!
Become friends with seaweed—your body will thank you!