While researching for my cookbook a few months back, I stumbled on a book about macrobiotics and, for some reason, could not stop reading it. It took me about 2 weeks to finish (Need to fall asleep fast? Read a book on macrobiotics!), and during that time, I started making subtle tweaks to my diet.
Now I will never fully be macro, because it's super strict and denies me the right to my main dietary staples like sriracha and avocado. However, I have been trying to incorporate more macroey goodness into my diet, starting with that ever-present salty little veggie, seaweed.
Full of iron, calcium, magnesium and plant protein, sea veggies have been shown to control cholesterol and support thyroid health. For vegans (whaddup!), seaweed is one of the only plant-sources of b12, so it's hella important. I'm not sure people still say hella, but I just did, so deal.
Most sea veggie varieties taste very salty and some can be mildly fishy, so nibble around. If you've tried one kind of seaweed and found it off-putting, don't swear off the whole lot! There are tons of varieties to choose from, and not all of them taste like fish, I swear. Plus, there's a zillion ways to use them. In many Asian cultures, seaweed is like bread; It goes with literally everything. You can get several different seaweeds dried in your local grocery store -– just hit up the Asian section. My favorite varieties of seaweed are wakame, nori, kombu and arame.
Aside from plain nori (sold in most Asian markets already dried and ready for rolling!), I'm not a fan of those dried seaweed snacks you can get at the store. I think they taste and smell like goldfish food. However, I love buying dried seaweed, rehydrating it, and putting it in everything. Even my coffee. Oh, ew, just kidding, don't do that ever.
Here are a handful of ways I've been enjoying seaweed at home. Also, note that not all seaweed prep is the same, so check out your package first! Most of them need to be rehydrated (seaweed speak for "soaked") for 3-5 minutes with water, but some -- like nori -- have been previously toasted and are ready to go.
Wrap everything in nori. I've actually been wrapping things in nori long before I read that book on macrobiotics, and so I was smugly pleased when I read how good it is for me. Rumor has it one sheet of nori has as much fiber as a cup of raw spinach and more omega-3 fatty acids than a cup of avocado. I wrap veggies and hummus in it -- I even wrapped leftover Indian food in it once, because, YOLO. Here is a recipe for a vegan chickpea spread that I came up with several months back, wrapped up in nori!
Soup! Dried seaweed hydrates in liquid, so it's basically the perfect salty soup ingredient. Be mindful, it blows up when wet, so if you add a teaspoon or two of savory kombu or salty wakame to your next minestrone pot, that will be more than enough.
Also, seaweed is already ever-present in miso soup. Miso (fermented soybean -- yum!) is also great for your digestion, so miso soup with seaweed is like a one-two punch of nutritional goodness. Really, I fucking love miso soup. The kind you order out usually has tons of added sodium lurking in it, so I often make my own using kombu. When making my own miso soup, I don't add any table salt, just a dash of shoyu or tamari. Between the tamari, seaweed and miso, the soup will be salty enough.
Noodles. I love adding hydrated seaweed to my basil pesto in place of salt. I typically use arame, which has a sweeter taste and offsets the basil nicely. You could probably add it to tomato sauce, too, because tomato covers up the taste of everything else. Hello, ketchup.
On burgers and sammiches. I layer a few pieces of seaweed in most of my sandwiches, wraps, and burgers. Considering I also slather them in sriracha, I'm rarely ever aware of the presence of seaweed anyway.
Stirfry! Hydrate your favorite seaweed and then toss it in near the end! I really like mixing the flavor profiles of fresh ginger and seaweed, so diced up a thumb of fresh ginger and throw it in your wok.
Remember that seaweed has a strong flavor, so start off with small amounts -- that way you won't have to throw out a whole pot of black bean soup because you accidentally overdid it with the wakame and now the whole dish tastes like the contents of a whale's stomach. Anyway, tell me how you use seaweed, please!