Balancing with Sea Veggies

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I don’t know about you but around here, the long sultry summer has announced its arrival and I’ve been preparing. How? By lightening up my cooking over the past weeks and infusing more fresh, crisp, biting crunch to the menu.

That is one way to be in balance during the hot season. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the old summertime favorites like potato salad. Of course you can! I just make a few changes that lighten it up and let it help me and my family to feel refreshed and ready to play The Healthy Cooking Game despite the heat.

One of the foods I use to create balance in our diet is sea vegetables. They are awesome sources of naturally occurring minerals and trace minerals. By using sea vegetables you can accomplish so much in such a delicious way.

If you are thinking, “Eeeeewe!  Sea Weed?” don’t panic. Yes. I am talking about seaweed–a traditional food in many parts of the world. Sea VEGGIES, as I prefer to call them, are not only great sources of minerals, some are awesome antioxidants too. They help balance excess protein and fat you may have consumed and help the body to get rid of that excess. If you have been indulging in dairy foods, you will find eating sea vegetables will help your body eventually get rid of that excess too.

You may also already know that eating sugar can deplete your body of minerals faster than you can say “Cherry Garcia,” and sea veggies are very effective in getting minerals back in.

Because of these excesses, you may not like the taste of sea veggies now as much as you will when you are more balanced. So here’s a great little purple-red sea veggie to start with.

Dulse is a mild tasting sea vegetable chock full of minerals and antioxidants. Did you ever get a little washed out from sweating in the heat of summer? Dulse will replenish your potassium.

Here’s how I put all this good data to use in my potato salad recipe:

Wash, slice and boil your potatoes until they are cooked but still firm and cool them down. Add all the other veggies and whisk up the lemon juice, olive oil, umeboshi vinegar and pepper. (Umeboshi vinegar is both salty and sour so you won’t need to add salt to this. Also there is sodium in dulse.) Dress the salad and mix in the dulse flakes.

Truly yummy!

The Healthy Cooking Game is a series of posts about finding what is right for you to eat so you can achieve your dietary goals. It is not about making anyone’s diet wrong or telling you what you have to eat to be healthy. It is a guide for creating balance in your menus and being able to make the changes you want to make. The Healthy Cooking Game is a project that I have undertaken with my friend, Kate Ryan, who is a truly talented cook and food consultant.

The Healthy Cooking Game

It’s Breakfast Time

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Summer Salad Time!

Moon Rising on a Hot New Mexico Afternoon

When the mercury rises and the daylight stretches out in the evening, I’m not interested in turning on my oven and I don’t even want to spend much time at the stove.  I prefer to spend my time enjoying the beautiful weather outside and staying cool when I’m inside.

My husband and I like to make sure we take extra minerals to replace what we’re losing when we sweat and to keep us feeling good even in high heat.  My husband takes salt and potassium while I usually just take a little potassium.

But what I like even better is adding more sea vegetables to my diet.  Sea vegetables provide a great source of minerals and trace minerals in a highly assimilable form.  That is because the plant has already converted the minerals from the earth or sea for us.

Cooking with sea vegetables can be quite easy.  If you aren’t familiar with using them, then I suggest you take a look at some cookbook recipes to get some ideas.  To get you started, here are a couple of my favorite summer salads using sea vegetables.

Rather than repeat this each time I list an ingredient, I will just say here that I only recommend using certified organic vegetables wherever possible.  I will also tell you that when choosing your vegetables, the biggest is not necessarily the best.  Super big veggies do not have the flavor that smaller ones do.  For instance if I am picking out cucumbers, I’m going to go for one that is not really fat.  The fat ones are more seedy and watery and have less flavor.  I would choose one that is more compact.

I will also remind you that it is far more adventurous to consider the recipe as a guide and play around with the ingredients and proportions until you get what you like best!  However I really do make and test-taste any recipe I give you, so you aren’t going to go wrong following them even if you decide to tweak them here and there according to your own preferences.

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BETTER THAN AT THE SUSHI BAR SUNOMONO

  • 2 ripe cucumbers or about 3 cups sliced
  • Wakame sea vegetable flakes
  • 2 Tbs brown rice vinegar
  • salt
  • 2 tsps mirin (I recommend naturally brewed and aged with no added sugar or synthetics enzymes)
  • 1Tble toasted sesame oil
  • A sprinkle of toasted black or light sesame seeds

Refreshing!

Wash the cucumbers and slice them lengthwise.  You do not have to peel them if they are organic.  Take a spoon and scoop out the seeds.  There is nothing wrong with leaving the seeds in, but this is a slight refinement that I feel makes this particular salad more appealing.

With a sharp vegetable knife, slice the cucumbers at an angle as paper-thin as possible.  [Note:  I find that trying to use a mandolin or some other slicer-dicer gadget is unworkable and annoying.  They don’t compare to a using an excellent-quality, sharp knife.]

Put the cucumber slices into a bowl and sprinkle them with the salt and mix it up.  The salt will start to draw some of the water out of the cucumber and that’s what you want.  You are ever-so-slightly pickling them.  Let the cucumbers sit that way while you prepare the dressing—about 20 minutes.

Drain off the excess water from the cucumbers and salt.  Taste a slice of cucumber and if it tastes salty you can quickly rinse them in cold water.   Combine the rice vinegar, mirin and toasted sesame oil for your dressing and mix it into the cucumbers.  Add in the wakame flakes and give them time to reconstitute into bigger soft pieces.  Serve with a few toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

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NOT YOUR MAMA’S POTATO SALAD (Unless you’re one of my kids!)

  • 1 1/2 pounds red-skinned new potatoes (the smaller the better)
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 1/4 tsp celery Seed
  • 1/4 cup applewood smoked dulse
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tsps mustard powder
  • pinch of garlic powder (I love fresh garlic but I found it is too overwhelming in this salad)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs brown rice syrup or sweetener of your choice

If you don’t already have your egg hardboiled, do that first.  You’ll want the egg to cool down before adding it into the potato salad.

Wash the potatoes and cut them into bite-size pieces.  I like getting the smallest red potatoes I can find because they are less starchy and more sweet-tasting.  I cut them in halves or quarters if they are bigger so they will cook in about the same amount of time.  Bring water and a pinch of salt to a boil and cook your potatoes until they are tender enough to poke with a fork but not falling apart.  If you need to, you can take them out of the water when they’re done and rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking.

While the potatoes are cooling down, wash and dice the onions and celery.  Assemble the salad by combining the potatoes, diced hardboiled egg, celery, onions and celery seed in a bowl.  Make the dressing by mixing the sesame oil, mustard , lemon juice, salt and pepper together adjusting the seasoning to suit your tastes.  This is a simple dressing, but you certainly can add more herbs or spices as you desire.  Add the dressing to the salad.  Break up the dulse into bite-size pieces (or I often cut it with scissors) and add that to the salad and combine it all together.  The dulse will easily reconstitute.

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Look for these special ingredients in your natural foods store.  I don’t recommend going to the asian food market unless you are able to read the ingredient labels.  The asian food stores will have items like mirin and sea vegetables, but they are not usually naturally brewed or dried and they may have sugar and other unwanted additives.  I also like to order online or from a company called Gold Mine Natural Foods for things I can’t get locally.