I always knew I had to eat more beans/pulses, as they contain important substances to sustain health. The same is true of seaweed.
I discovered that seaweed and beans & pulses (also called legumes) have much in common when it comes to their surprising nutritional profiles:
• High Fibre ~15 g dietary fibre + per cup!
• High Vitamins and Minerals
• Vegetable Protein ~23% + protein
• Low Fat ~1%
• Low Glycemic Index (GI)
• Contain lignans, a group of chemical compounds found in plants called phytoestrogens. These substances are thought to have anti-tumour effects – in particular, several preliminary studies on lignans suggest that they may help prevent breast & colon cancer. In lab studies on rats, a component of brown seaweed – fucoidan – has been found to delay the onset and growth of breast tumors.
Many people complain of difficulty digesting pulses, seeds & whole grains as a reason to eat them less frequently or avoid them altogether. Both seaweed and pulses are ingredients that should make a greater part of our diets because they have so much to offer nutritionally, but cooking either on a regular basis requires a little inspiration & motivation for most.
So, as I investigated further, the culinary side of the combination also showed a lot of promise.
Firstly, seaweed helps make beans, grains & seeds cook faster and become more digestible.
Beans & seeds are hard to cook & digest because they contain natural preservative substances that allow the nutrients that are stored inside them to be protected until conditions are correct for growth. Cooking beans & grains with seaweed (especially of the brown variety) breaks down these substances, thus allowing for shorter cooking time. The high concentration of minerals & trace elements in seaweed also helps balance protein & oils, and contribute to increased digestibility and reduced flatulence.
As an added bonus, the colours combinations in the pulse/seaweed dishes can be a feast for the eyes ! Seaweeds are classified in major groups based on colour: browns, reds & greens. The wide variety of colour pigmentation within each colour group sets seaweed apart from land plants. Seaweeds are believed to be especially beneficial to human health as the range of colours available between seaweed varieties covers the spectrum of the rainbow; so be creative and try different colour pulses with different seaweed. Some tasty & colourful combinations I have include:
* Broad bean, tomato & Karengo (NZ nori)
* Green lentils, courgette & Sea Spaghetti
* Brown lentil risotto with Dulse & Sea Lettuce
* Red beans, red Carmague rice & Wakame
Try some new combinations, they make an appetising meal with a full boost in nutrition !
Check this link to review Pacific Harvest’s range of natural seaweed.