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Counter Challenge

A little challenge to eat Popweed, Sea lettuce, Black Ribbon, Red Ribbon & Beach Asparagus daily.

Scientific names: Fucus Vesiculosus, Rhodmendia Palmata Mollis, Ulva Lactuca & Salicornia Virginica. 
By Mary Goddard
Neatly organized in my snack drawer there were five jars of sea greens , along with a jar of almonds, and several boxes of crackers. It was time to move the jar of seaweeds to the counter top. Why would I do this? Doesn't seaweed, like other dry food stay best in a dark cool environment? Yes it does, however, whats the point if it is never eaten?
See it. Eat it. (Thats just the way many of us snack.  Especially me.)
This beautiful, dried food was just sitting in my cupboard, while I snacked on not so healthy food. I had always known that sea greens were healthy for me but lately I had been studying up on them a little bit more. 
Did you know that they are considered a superfood? They are highly nutritious and rich with minerals. The benefits of eating sea greens are numerous. These greens purify and alkalize our blood, help us to detoxify our bodies and boost weight loss. They are pumped up with calcium and iodine. Are you starting to understand the pull these little greens have? 
Seen mostly as a food to snack on, I thought I should push myself a little more.
 "These sea greens really should be enjoyed in dishes." This thought danced in my head until I could take it no more.
I challenged myself.  I moved the dried seaweed and sea greens to the top of my counter. This made it visible, all day, every day, making it impossible to ignore.
Here is what I came up with:
Day 1
This was the first morning. I love the simplicity of rice and eggs for a quick breakfast. Typically loaded up with salt, I just exchanged the salt for a heavy dose of sea lettuce.
Day 2
These puffy, crunchy seaweed called Popweed or Bladderwrack were harvested by my friend Hope Merritt. (She is the owner of Gimbal Botanicals) The first time I snacked on Popweed was when I went out in a boat harvesting kelp along with her. She suggested adding it to a trail mix.
I once dipped the long, beautiful strands of red ribbon in chocolate to make Christmas candy, so I was familiar with the idea of mixing seaweeds with chocolate. 
You can check out Hope's store here: Gimbal Botanicals
Day 3
Honestly I just loved the  bowl of rice, scrambled eggs and seaweeds that I had to do it again. This time I piled on more sea lettuce, and included a handful of red ribbon seaweed.
For me the smell of the red ribbon seaweed stirred up memories of my mother hang drying seaweed over our oil stove to dry when I was just a child. This was her drying method when it was raining outside.
Day 5
Seeing how the seaweed satisfied my need for salt I decided to create a simple seasoning to use in other dishes. I did this by crisping up the seaweed in my convect oven for about 25 minutes on low. Once the seaweed was cooled, I used my Ninja food processor to chop it up. 
I love all the different shades of these five sea vegetables. 
Day 6
I sample the seasoning in tuna fish salad. My husband likes it and so do I!
Day 7
Growing up I have seen the elders add seaweed to their soup.
Truthfully I was never a big fan. Not because of the taste. As a child I felt like I was going to choke on the long, slippery strands. Here is a modified take on a traditional soup, using the ground seaweed seasoning blend rather than the big dried chunks.  Be warned...you still are susceptible to getting a piece of seaweed stuck in your teeth. Yeah, its kind of like spinach. 
Day 8
I can eat zucchini all day, every day. Again, no need for salt as the seaweed adds so much flavor. I wasn't sure how I would like the sea lettuce added in while the zucchini was sautéing, knowing that it would absorb some of the water. After the zucchini cooked down a little and some of its water cooked out, I added a tablespoon of coconut oil. This slightly crisped up the seaweed. 
At this point of the challenge I was beginning to crave seaweed in my meals. I began adding it to almost all of my lunches and dinners. I also began to crave more vegetables. Was this a perk from adding seaweed to my daily diet? I couldn't help but think it was. 
Day 9 & 10
Soba noodles, vegetables and more seaweed!
During this Counter Challenge I took a trip home to visit my family. I knew my parents had a good stash of black seaweed so I didn't bother bringing any. In fact, my love for seaweed began at an early age. My parents would harvest buckets full.  I would help spread out the ribbons of black and red seaweed on sheets of plywood to dry in the sun. Then our focus was on harvesting black and red seaweed and we didn't venture into the other sea greens. 
For the quick soba noodle stir fry, I prefer the big chunks of dried seaweed over the seasoning. 
Day 14
I haven't got super creative using the seaweed on this challenge, but this mostly due to the fact I've been craving vegetables with seaweed every single day! Again, is it from eating this superfood that I have developed a taste for greens more intensely, or merely coincidence? 
Day 20
I'm nearly out of seaweed and I feel like I am beginning to horde the rest.
I didn't think I would come to the end of the challenge of the seaweed jars are quick as I did. I have already begun to call my friend Hope and my parents inquiring on how much seaweed they have left, and what do they feel comfortable parting with. 
Let me leave you with a recipe that has become one of my favorites. 
Superfood Salmon Seaweed Sauté
Serves 2
Salmon Fillet
2 Cups Cabbage, chopped
2 Cups Kale, chopped
1/2 Cup white onion, thinly sliced
1 Carrot, thinly sliced or cut into ribbons
1 Handful dried Black seaweed
1 Handful dried beach asparagus
1/4 cup dried Bladderwrack
1 Tbsp Coconut oil
1/2 Lemon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried ginger
Bake the salmon fillet (naked) at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. The time will vary depending on the thickness of your salmon fillet, and your oven. Keep a close eye on it, as over cooking salmon is nearly a crime. 
While your salmon is baking, chop and slice your vegetables and set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt your coconut oil. Add all of your vegetables and sea greens and sauté until cooked, but still crisp. If you want a extra little crunch to this sauté, add the carrots last so they do not become to soft. I enjoy watching the seaweeds sauté, as they curl up and look similar to the garden kale. Season the vegetable mix with your cayenne pepper and ginger and cook for a couple more minutes.
I love adding the cayenne seasoning because it warms up this dish just a bit. 
When the vegetables are nearly sautéed to your likeness, finish it off with a squeeze of lemon. 
Plate the sautéed vegetables and top with the salmon fillet. Finish the dish with squeezing out the lemon for every drop of that delicious juice. This will brighten up your dish.
I flake the salmon and remove any bones. This makes eating salmon more enjoyable if you don't have to worry about bones when dining.
Please let me know if this has inspired you to create any of your own dishes with seaweed or if I have caught your curiosity, even just a bit! If you post on Instagram use #counterchallenge @alaskamary
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