food

The Power of Sea Vegetables

While living in Japan, I enjoyed going to the market and browsing the vats of various sea vegetables to explore their many colors, textures, and aromas. The Japanese value this nutrient-dense food, grading it in much the same way the U.S. Department of Agriculture grades beef. In per capita sea vegetable consumption, Japan consumes the most, but sea vegetables are not exclusive to Japanese cuisine. New England and California have large-scale sea vegetable operations, and coastal residents across the globe incorporate these greens into hors d’oeuvres, baby food, and main courses. Much more than their slimy stereotype, sea vegetables are commonly found in skin care products and as thickening agents in other products like ice cream, shampoo, and toothpaste.

Sea vegetables brim with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, and they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as easily digestible proteins and healthy fats. Unlike any land vegetable, sea vegetables provide all of the 56 minerals necessary, including calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, and sodium, and also trace minerals like copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

“Unlike any land vegetable, sea vegetables provide all of the 56 minerals necessary, including calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, and sodium, and also trace minerals like copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.”

Nori is an excellent source of dietary fiber, plant-based protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. It has more vitamin A than carrots; generous amounts of B and K vitamins; calcium, iodine, iron, and potassium; and trace elements that can strengthen your baby’s nervous system. Kombu is high in dietary fiber, calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, B, and C, and trace minerals. It helps tenderize beans and other protein-rich foods, which aids in digestion. Kombu has 150 times the amount of iodine and eight times more magnesium than leafy vegetables. Agar is a mineral-rich and alkaline-producing, naturally calorie-free thickening agent that can be used to make sauces and puddings.

Sea vegetables can be especially valuable during your child’s first three years, when his body and brain are developing rapidly. They balance acidity in his body, and their minerals strengthen his muscles, nerves, hair, skin, and nails. Because sea vegetables are so nutritious, I tried to include them as much as possible in cooking for my family.

I found it easy to incorporate nori, wakame flakes, kombu, and agar into dishes for [my daughters] Emi and Mari when they were young. Even though these ingredients were not part of my mother or grandmother’s recipes, I substituted kombu for ham hock in my black-eyed peas for flavoring. I found that cooking beans with kombu helped make the proteins and fats more digestible for improved nutrient absorption. Emi and Mari’s favorite sea vegetable was nori, which they enjoyed munching on as a snack. Our cat, Dandelion, loved to eat nori, and he learned to beg for his daily ration when he heard the package being opened.

When buying sea vegetables, look for natural and dye-free products rather than those with added food coloring or bleach. With a little imagination, you can integrate these healthy gifts from the sea into your daily cooking and gain many health benefits for your child.

Grow Healthy. Grow Happy. Guide
By Grow Healthy. Grow Happy. The Whole Baby Guide. ™

A comprehensive and accessible resource for natural baby care. Nurture your baby with nature's principles for a radiant life. Grow Healthy. Grow Happy. The Whole Baby Guide is a complete resource for parents to give their babies a healthy beginning for the first three years.

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