4 Reasons You Should Eat Seaweed

Seaweed can add so much flavor and depth to dishes, plus it is a great source of iodine and other nutrients! Learn 4 reasons why you should eat seaweed here.

Eating seaweed was something I heard a lot of jokes about in high school. It was viewed as kind of the ultimate dorky health food that “no one” could ever like. That’s changed in recent days because people have finally realized how delicious and beautiful Asian food is, and many traditional Asian dishes contain seaweed. Our sushi obsession has helped changed our mind as well.

Besides being delicious, it turns out that seaweed is a wonderful healthy food to include in your diet! My doctor recommended that I eat seaweed three times a week for health reasons, and I have failed in meeting that goal. So one of my recent pushes for myself was to start making a lot more dishes (for the benefit of the whole family!) on a regular basis that use seaweed in a delicious way.

But I’m not the only one that may benefit from seaweed! Here are four reasons you may want to join me in eating more seaweed!

Seaweed is delicious

From a culinary perspective, what would sushi be without nori, or what would miso soup be without wakame? So many Asian dishes get part of their scrumptious flavor from seaweed. My husband is half Japanese-American, and he has introduced me to Asian cooking that goes far beyond Americanized “Chinese take out”. As I have slowly worked at learning how to use a variety of seaweeds in dishes, I’ve learned there are many ways to enjoy it. So reason number one? It makes your Asian food more authentic and taste great as well.

Dr. Price noted the traditional consumption of it

In his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Price noted that those consuming a traditional diet who lived far away from the sea often went to extra-ordinary lengths to get seaweed. It was considered a very important food for maintaining health. For those of us who try to take cues from a nutrient dense diet based on traditional foods, adding in seaweed makes a lot of sense for us. This is especially true because many of us don’t eat iodized salt, but prefer unrefined salts that only have very minute amounts of iodine (if any, depending on the salt).

Traditionally, seaweed based soups and foods were given to the ailing, the pregnant, and the nursing mother.

Seaweed is a source of iodine and other nutrients

The reason seaweed was recommended to me was because it is a great source of iodine, and my levels were a little on the low side. Iodine is a crucial nutrient for us to get, and there is a lot of interesting research on the possible health benefits of iodine. It is also a source of vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B2, vitamin A, copper, pantothenic acid, potassium, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus, and vitamin B1, and it contains protein as well.

The Weston A Price Foundation has a fascinating article on iodine’s possible health benefits that you may find helpful. They begin with this, “Iodine is critical to human health. It forms the basis of thyroid hormones and plays many other roles in human biochemistry. While the thyroid gland contains the body’s highest concentration of iodine, the salivary glands, brain, cerebrospinal fluid, gastric mucosea, breasts, ovaries and a part of the eye also concentrate iodine. In the brain, iodine is found in the choroid plexus, the area on the ventricles of the brain where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced, and in the substantia nigra, an area associated with Parkinson’s disease.”

Current research on the benefits of seaweed is encouraging

Take a peek at some of the research out there showing promise for the benefits of including seaweed in your diet.

Sea vegetables and lower blood pressure: “A 2011 study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reviewed 100 studies on the health benefits of seaweed and reported that some of the proteins in seaweed could serve as better sources of bioactive peptides than those in milk products. These reduce blood pressure, and boost heart health.” Times 

Seaweed and breast cancer: There is a lot of research on this topic as scientists attempt to figure out why Japanese women have such lower rates of breast cancer. Could seaweed consumption be part of the reason they have lower rates? Here are just two of many studies on the topic:

Seaweed May Improve Heart Health: Not surprising if it helps lower blood pressure, seaweed may be a heart protective food.

And those are just a few of the many, many studies out there. There is a reason that many call seaweed a “superfood”! Because of my new push to include seaweed in our diet more consistently, expect to see some dishes including seaweed in them soon.

And if anyone has a favorite recipe using seaweed, I’d love to hear about it!

How to Freeze Meatballs

Follow this simple method to make your own freezer meatballs! You can take out as many as you like at a time. You can use your favorite recipe, or you can use this grain-free, egg-free Italian Meatball recipe. Yum!
Having frozen meatballs on hand is very convenient. You can easily take out just as many as you need and use them in a variety of recipes. However, I don’t know if I have yet seen meatballs made with the ingredients I’d like, in the store, let alone ones that would mesh well with our allergies/intolerances.

Thankfully, making your own frozen meatballs is very easy and simple to do! I used my recipe for grain-free, egg-Free, and dairy-free Italian Meatballs, and made up a massive batch for my freezer. You can use whatever recipe you’d like though! The method is the same regardless.

I lost several weeks to being under the weather recently, and as someone who is expecting to give birth in the next 2-4 weeks, I am playing catch up on both my rest and my chores! I had grand plans for freezer meals but have had to cut back on some of them because of lack of time. However, meatballs were on the “must do” list, and I was thankful to get them done this week.

It was actually some of you who put this idea into my head! Several of you have mentioned that my recipe for meatballs froze really well, and I was always planning on trying it “sometime”. I decided there was no time like the present! There was something so satisfying about putting that bag stuffed full of frozen meatballs into the freezer too. So thank you!

A few notes on the ingredients I used

We choose to use grassfed ground beef. I was thankful to be able to buy some locally for a decent price and we love the added health benefits to grassfed beef. I quadrupled the recipe, and I replaced one of the pounds of beef for chicken liver for even more nutrition. You can read about the nutritional benefits of liver here. You can also read more about nutrient dense foods in general (including liver) here.

How to make Freezer Meatballs

Make and shape meatballs according to the recipe you’ve chosen to use. I used my recipe for Italian Meatballs. I recommend making small meatballs (I make mine about the size of a pingpong ball or even smaller), not the large fist sized ones.

Bake in the oven (my recipe cooks at 400F for 12-18 minutes) until done. If you are using lean meat, use parchment paper or oil the pan lightly.
Remove from oven and let cool.

Place on a parchment covered bake sheet, making sure the meatballs aren’t touching. They will have shrunk in size when cooking, so I put two pans worth of baked meatballs onto one pan for freezing, and place in the freezer on a flat surface. This ensures that the meatballs won’t freeze sticking together. Freeze until hard.

Remove from freezer and pop into a freezer bag or desired container, and freeze! Use within three months.

How to reheat frozen meatballs

I’m told that a favorite way to enjoy frozen meatballs is to reheat them in a slow cooker in a favorite sauce(think sweet and sour or spaghetti sauce). It only takes 1-3 hours on high, and I like that this would help keep the meatballs moist while they reheat. They can also be dropped into a soup for meatball soup, reheated in a sauce on the stovetop, or reheated in the oven (350F for 15- 20, or until hot in the middle).

Follow this simple method to make your own freezer meatballs! You can take out as many as you like at a time. You can use your favorite recipe, or you can use this grain-free, egg-free Italian Meatball recipe. Yum!

Lemony Greek Beef and Rice Lettuce Wraps (or Rice Bowl)

Greek Lemon Beef and Rice Lettuce wraps (or rice bowl)

Rich in flavor, this buttered, lemony rice and beef, peppered with parsley, is an old family favorite. I love that it only takes me about 30 minutes to make, so it’s a great easy dinner. Serve with cucumbers and lettuce for lettuce wraps, or a Greek Salad. (like the one from my cookbook, Fresh!).

My mother in law showed me how to make this recipe, and we’ve been enjoying it since! It’s based on a filling for dolmas (Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves). Sometimes we just enjoy it as a type of rice bowl, but lately we’ve been topping romaine leaves with the mixture and loving it that way as well!

In this recipe, I like to use homemade chicken broth to cook the rice in, butter from pastured cows for the rice and grassfed beef. It makes it a nourishing meal following many of the principles from Dr. Price that can be made up quickly! You will notice that I use white rice in this recipe. Some who consider themselves paleo use white rice as a “safe starch”. Personally, I switched when I learned about the arsenic issues with rice in general, and the fact that white rice was lower in arsenic.

Much of the time, we’ve simply eye-balled the ratio of rice to beef to lemon to butter. But I finally got the ratios worked out for more consistent results. This is a little heavy on the rice, so you could cut down on the rice, as desired.
Greek Lemon Beef and Rice Lettuce Wraps! These only take 30 minutes to throw together and are made with nutrient dense ingredients. Plus, they are delicious, and the whole family can enjoy them.

Greek Lemon Beef and Rice Lettuce Wraps (or Rice Bowl)
 
 
If you'd like to make these into lettuce wraps, romaine leaves from the heart of the romaine work well (you often see the heart sold packaged in groups of three). Butterleaf lettuce or endive is also delicious!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of long grain white rice
  • 2 ½ cups of chicken broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined salt (leave out if broth already salted)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 pound of ground beef (grassfed preferred)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced or put through a garlic press
  • 2-4 lemons
  • Half a bunch of fresh Italian parsley, rinsed and dried
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice in a fine sieve until the water runs clear. Place in a medium sized pot with the chicken broth or water and the salt. Bring to a boil, stir to make sure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan, and turn down heat to low. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Take off of the heat, and add the butter to the pot. Let sit for five minutes, and then gently fluff up the rice and mix in the butter.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook the beef and garlic together over medium-high until the beef is cooked through and no longer pink. If there is any extra fat, drain from the pan (I push all of the beef to one side of the pan, and then tip the pan allowing the grease to pool to the other side. It can then be easily removed with a spoon). Gently salt the beef.
  3. Cut the parsley greens from the stems, and finely chop. In a large bowl, combine the rice, beef, and parsley, as well as the juice from 1 or 2 of the lemons. Taste test. Usually, I add more lemon and salt. You want a good balance between the salt and the tangy lemon juice, so experiment with it to taste. We enjoy ours quite lemony, so I serve extra lemon wedges on the side. Yum! If using Enjoy

 

Homemade Herbed Garlic Salt with Lemon

Herbed Garlic Salt (so many uses, delicious, and a great food gift!)

This beautiful homemade seasoning salt is overflowing with fresh herbs, flavorful garlic, and zesty lemon peel. You can use this homemade seasoning salt in so many delicious ways, or give it away as a lovely food gift. Sprinkle it over vegetables or chicken to be roasted, or season pan fried salmon with it, for example.

Salt has been valued since ancient times, with wars waged over salt routes, and many hundreds of miles traveled in search of it. But salt has become a beast of a different sort through the modern refining process. We especially look for unrefined salts that still contain trace minerals and aren’t harshly treated and refined with chemicals. You can use whatever salt you like best, or is available to you. This recipe uses a coarse or kosher salt. Here are two possible unrefined salt choices (some links may be affiliate links): Celtic Sea Salt , Redmond Real Salt (Kosher/coarse)

This specific recipe is an adaption of this Tuscan Salt recipe from The Splendid Table. Ever since I listened to this episode of the podcast, I have meant to make it. Now that I finally have, I have to say that it makes everything taste better! What I love about it is that it take just a few minutes of active time to make, but saves so much time when you are cooking. Instead of having to gather a variety of spices for a single dish, you can just use this to season the whole thing. I made baked French “fries” the other night and used this on it instead of regular salt, and it was so good! We were impressed.

And with something as delicious as this, it would be perfect as a food gift. Packing can be as simple as a cute 4 ounce canning jar. As an aside, if you don’t already, having a microplane zester/grater can be really helpful for a variety of tasks, including zesting lemons for recipes such as this one.

How to make an herbed garlic salt (delicious for home use, for for giving as a gift!)

Homemade Herbed Garlic Salt with Lemon
 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup of coarse of kosher salt
  • 2 cups of mixed fresh herbs (I used ½ each of fresh sage and thyme and 1 cup of rosemary)
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled, and coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250F.
  2. To measure herbs, place loosely in a 2 cup measuring cup (no need to press down on herbs).
  3. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor, and blend until the herbs and garlic are well blended, and the salt is finer.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet, and place in the oven, middle rack. Bake until dry (this will depend on how wet your salt and herbs are - 15-30 minutes should do it. Check about every ten minutes and give a quick stir when checking.
  5. Remove from oven and cool, and then store in an airtight container.
  6. While this will be "good" indefinitely, for best flavor, use up within 3 months.