Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Have you had your sea vegetables today?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Most folks these days are mineral deficient. Minerals, as in: calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, iodine, sodium, zinc, selenium, etc….What’s the big deal you may ask? Minerals are needed not just for our bones but for our muscles to contract and relax, for all enzymes to function properly, nearly every physiological process involves a mineral.

One of the best ways to get minerals is to eat lots of vegetables and some fruits. If you want a mineral packed source – turn to the sea. Sea vegetables or seaweed are actually algae.

Sea Vegetables contain nearly all the minerals needed by humans. These mineral include: calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iodine, iron, zinc and numerous trace minerals. Sea vegetables also contain important vitamins: beta carotene, B1, B2, B6, niacin, vitamin C, pantothenic acid and folic acid. It also, contains varying amounts of protein depending on type with the some red algae having amounts comparable to legumes.

Common sea vegetables are brown algae: arame, hijiki, kombu (aka kelp), wakame, agar-agar; red algae: dulse, irish moss (carrageen) nori (aka laver).

Of note hijiki contains high amounts of calcium; kelp or kombu contains high amounts of magnesium; dulse is high in B6, iron and potassium.

Health Benefits include aiding in detoxification of the body (binding to heavy metals), source of minerals, support digestion, support the immune system, beneficial for bone, anemia, aid with hormone balance, may aid with weight loss by induce fat burning, lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, reducing blood pressure and reducing risk of metabolic syndrome.

One study showed the ability of iodine or iodine-rich seaweed to inhibit breast tumor development: Smyth PPA. The thyroid, iodine and breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2003;5:235-238.

Sea vegetables are also a source of lignans (also found in flax seed) which are thought to play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet

· Add a piece of kombu or kelp in a pot of beans, soups and stocks
· A pinch to a handful of most any sea vegetable to any long cooked dishes such as lentil & bean soups, stews, chilis, etc
· Sprinkle flaked or cut up pieces of sea vegetables on salads, over rice or other grains.
· Use flaked sea vegetable as a seasoning in place of salt
· Add a small amount into baked goods
· Add to a sandwich
· Dry into snack chips

This is a favorite soup recipe which features laver or nori:

Laver Egg Drop Soup
4 servings

3 eggs
4 cups chicken stock
4 sheets of nori, torn into small pieces
1 Tbs corn starch
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs shaoshing wine or sherry
3 scallions, sliced
¼ tsp ground white pepper
¼ tsp toasted sesame oil

Stir together 1/2 cup of chicken stock with the cornstarch, set aside.

Lighty beat eggs.

In a medium size pot, heat together remaining chicken stock with ginger,
soy sauce, pepper and wine with the nori pieces. Bring to a boil, stir in the
cornstarch slurry. Let simmer. Add the scallions.

Turn off heat. While stirring the soup in a clockwise direction, slowly
add the egg in a thin stream. Garnish with a few drops of sesame oil.
Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Product Spotlight on Bread

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Convenience has two faces. In order to save time – to mass produce, sacrifices are made. Case in point – bread.

First let’s look at wheat, the main ingredient in bread. Domesticated wheat – bred to grow faster, resist disease, increase yield among other things has sacrificed many of the nutrients in the original wild varieties of wheat – spelt, kamut, emmet, and farro are a few. Cool names too! Scientist are now breeding these ‘lost’ nutrients back into domesticated wheat. Kind of strange, why not go back to the wild variety?

Second, let’s look at leavening or what is done to make the dough rise. Today, super fast acting yeast cultures with special flours and conditioners make bread rise fast. Time, after all is money. Back in the old days, bread was made with a long slow fermentation using a culture of wild yeast and lactobacillus bacteria along with some other critters and enzymes. The result was a nutritious loaf with a sour tang – what we call sour dough bread.

So what’s the big deal? What’s wrong with our technologically ‘advanced’ mass-produced bread? Well, we now understand that fermenting grains, in this case, via the long slow rise of bread makes the grains easier to digest by breaking down the gluten and making the nutrients more bio-available. Nutrients are also added from the by-products of the various critters in the fermenting culture.

Further, grains have a compound called phytic acid, which while in our gut, bind to minerals that are essential to our health – like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper. Finally, the long fermentation breaks down much of the starch converting our loaf of bread from what is usually considered a refined carbohydrate into a complex carbohydrate.

There are many fine artisan breads being baked out there using the time honored tradition of a long slow fermentation using wild cultures – breads with crisp crusts, hearty textures and oh so much flavor. If you’d like to try baking a loaf or two or eight yourself, check out the posts on No-Knead Bread at Tasty Bytes.

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