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Wild veggies from the deep a good find

Rebecca Wood —

Taste alone is a good reason to get hooked on seaweed — - it's delicious. And eating an ocean vegetable is an easy way to enjoy — wild foods. When you eat wild, the genetic diversity imparts fuller flavor, — extra nutrients and a more grounded energy that's not available in cultivated — foods. Seaweed is also a great weight-reducing aid and helps prevent cancer. —

In terms of overall healthfulness no other food can beat — veggies from the deep. Here's why. The nutritional content of all plants — reflects their immediate environment. A carrot grown in deficient soil, — for example, is nutritionally deficient compared to one grown in good — soil. Seaweed can't be mineral deficient - as a direct transformation — of mineral-rich sea brine, its dry weight contains 7 to 38 percent minerals.

Ounce for ounce, seaweed is higher in vitamins and minerals — than any other class of food. In addition to its high iron content, seaweed — is a superior source of calcium, iodine and phosphorous and an excellent — source of vitamins A, B, C and E. Many types of seaweed, such as nori, — are also high in protein. As flavor and nutrition go together, the nutrient — density of seaweed helps explain its ability to enhance the flavor of — countless dishes, from chili to sushi.

These amazing vegetables from the sea help counter cancer — and obesity, reduce blood cholesterol and remove metallic and radioactive — elements from the body. Seaweed can help prevent goiter and has some antibiotic — properties know to be effective against penicillin-resistant bacteria. — It also strengthens bones, teeth, nerve transmission and digestion. Because — it softens hardened masses or tumors it also helps treat lumps, swollen — lymph glands, fibroids and edema.

Natural food stores and mail order suppliers offer wild — crafted seaweed varieties. I've foraged with several of these wild crafters — and can attest to their sustainability code and their care in harvesting — from pristine waters. Dressed in a wetsuit and attentive to the crashing — surf, what a thrill it is to forage salad greens from tidal pools. Dulse — and sea lettuce are so tasty that I can't help but nibble as I gather. —

As our seas become more polluted, some people worry that — seaweed might become contaminated. But according to laboratory analyses — of seaweed from reputable natural food companies, they test zero for pesticides, — hydrocarbons and herbicides and for toxins such as E. coli, yeast, mold — and salmonella.

Here are the seven most readily available seaweeds ranked — in order of their ease of use.

Kelp tablets Seaweed supplements work for some people. — However, kelp tablets are your priciest option and you don't get to enjoy — the flavor. Additionally, it's hard to assess their quality and to know — whether or not the kelp was sustainably harvested from clean waters.

Dulse A purple-red frond, dulse has a slightly tangy, — salty flavor and is delicious eaten straight from the package as a snack — or added to trail mixes. To include in a salad or sandwich, dip dulse — into water and then tear it into pieces. It's reminiscent of jerky, or — when pan-fried in oil, of bacon. But, in a chameleon-like way, when dulse — is added to a soup, it imparts an enticing seafood flavor. Or purchase — dulse flakes or powder and sprinkle onto savory dishes.

Kombu Here's a seaweed that's as easy as to use as a bay — leaf. It heightens a food's natural flavor and significantly increases — the nutritional and medicinal properties of savory dishes. Simply add — a 2- to 3-inch strip of kombu to every pot of beans, soup or stock you — make. Remove the kombu prior to serving.

Nori Good for more than just sushi, nori is a great finger — food for toddlers. Cut into ribbons or torn into small pieces, nori makes — an elegant garnish. Nori is higher in protein than beef, fish, poultry — or milk and it has more vitamin A than carrots.

Wakame Here's a classic soup ingredient. Hydrate wakame — with a quick soak, then chop (removing the central, hard stem if necessary) — it into bite-size pieces and add to soup for both its flavor and texture. — With wakame flakes, sprinkle them right from the package into your soup, — simmer a minute and they're ready.

Arame These elegant strands of glistening black seaweed — enhance salads, pilafs and vegetable dishes. Saut? or simmer it like you — would carrots and combine it with your favorite vegetables or grains.

Hiziki The most mineral-rich of all seaweeds; hiziki contains — more calcium than milk. Saut? or simmer it with other vegetables. It requires — a little more cooking time than other seaweeds.

It seems that when a food is especially nutrient dense — and good for us, as is hiziki, that it tastes especially delicious. Hiziki, — which is spectacularly black, makes a tasty side dish with any meal. It's — also delicious wrapped into a rich dough for a strudel or empanada.

Hiziki and Carrots

Serves 4 to 6

— — — — — — 1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce or naturally fermented — soy sauce, or to taste

— —

Soak the hiziki in a bowl with cool water to cover for — 10 minutes. Drain.

Warm the sesame oil in a medium saut? pan over medium — heat. Add the onion and saut? for — minutes or until softened. Add the — carrots, ginger and hiziki and saut? for — to 5 minutes or until the carrots — start to soften. Add tamari soy sauce, fresh water to cover the bottom — of the pan by 1/2 inch, raise the heat, bring to a boil, then reduce the — heat, cover, and simmer for 10. Toss, season to taste with mirin and cook, — uncovered, for a few minutes or until nearly dry. Garnish with toasted — sesame seeds. Serve hot.

*The length of hiziki strands can vary from 1/2 to 4 inches. — If the strands are mostly under 2-inches (and therefore more densely pack — into a measuring cup) use 1/2 cup hiziki.

Local resident Rebecca Wood is a Personal Chef, Kitchen — Coach and author. Her book, "The Splendid Grain," won both Julia Child — and James Beard cookbook awards. Contact Rebecca or visit her many recipes — and articles at www.rwood.com.