Beyond Sushi: A Newbie's Guide to Sea Vegetables

If you eat sushi, surprise: you're already a fan of sea vegetables. Nori, that green wrapper holding your salmon avocado roll together, is one among many vegetables that help build collagen and aid in tissue repair.

Commonly spotted in Asian cuisine, marine plants like nori, kombu, arame and agar are crazy rich in vitamins and minerals, all key players in keeping your metabolism humming. Found at health food stores or in the Asian food aisle of supermarkets, they're way easier to incorporate into meals than you think. Here's the breakdown on how open up your diet to three superstar plants from the ocean.

More: 5 Simple Fish Recipes


What It Is: This potassium and calcium-rich sea cabbage is an easy way to increase the digestibility of protein-rich beans (its enzymes work to break down the sugars in beans that contribute to icky gas and bloating) by simply tossing in a strip of in the next pot of beans you cook. Not only will the kombu impart a more savory flavor, but it'll also make your famous sweet potato-black eyed pea cakes or Grandma's black bean burgers easier on the stomach.

Recipe to Try: Brown Rice With Shiitakes and Scallions


What It Is: A good "starter seaweed," this milder marine veggie comes in thin strands and is soaked and simmered before eaten raw, often in salads. Arame contains abundant amounts of iron, potassium and calcium, and is a also good source of protein. If you're reconstituting it in water before using, keep the infused water to use as a base for a flavorful soup stock.

Recipe to Try: Cucumber Arame Seaweed Salad


What It Is: Consider this vegan gelatin. Derived from red algae or seaweed, agar (also known as kanten) is available in various forms like flakes, powder and strips. It's a handy gelling agent made up of 80 percent fiber that helps firm up tasty pie fillings or luxurious panna cottas. To cook with it, simply add it to a pot with liquid and bring it to a boil while whisking until it's dissolved. Super low in calories—we're talking three calories for two tablespoons—it's also a good source of calcium and iron, and has virtually no fat or sodium. Beyond desserts (vegan red currant panna cotta, excuse our stares), you can also use agar as a thickening agent in chilled appetizers for a more refreshing party bite.

Recipe to Try: Vegan Queso Blanco Dip

More: 6 Health and Nutrition Facts You Need to Know

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About the Author

Perri O. Blumberg

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

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