Irish Seaweed Cooking Class
Red. Green. Brown.
These are the colours of edible seaweeds that grow on Irish shores. There are over 300 known seaweeds in the Irish seas, and 30 of those have been classed for eating. According to Dr Prannie Rhatigan, you should eat a mix of colours daily.
Haven't I been saying it all along? Eat a "rainbow of colours" on your plate daily for good health ... but how does that translate to seaweeds?
Being an island, Ireland has a strong culinary tradition of using seaweed in the kitchen. In fact, you may have grown up eating seaweed, or using it as a cure. What's behind these strange-looking, odd-smelling, slimy sea plants?
According to world-wide leading authority on seaweeds, Dr Prannie Rhatigan from Co Sligo, seaweeds are a major source of minerals and should be included in our daily diet. Not in huge quantities, but in small portions. "Little goes a long way", in her own words.
To get a good range of nutrients eat a mix of colours daily. A small amount goes a long way with seaweeds. They are so very nutrient dense that you do not need to worry about having to eat large amounts. This is also good news if you kind of like the idea of eating seaweed, but only in small quantities.
How can you get the benefits of seaweed in your daily diet?
- Buy any of the seaweed enriched table salts available in health food shops, markets or other well stocked local shops.
- Dulse/Dilisk crisps - you can either eat these straight from the packet, or put them in the oven alongside kale to make delicious healthy crisps. Chewing even a small bit every day may really boost your nutrient intake.
- cut/tear up strips of seaweed crisps (e.g. Clearsping Seaweed Crisps) and sprinkle over salad or soup for added flavour
- cut/tear up strips of seaweed and mix with salted cashews and other nuts for a delicious pre-dinner snack
- add seaweed enriched salt to a rice cracker, sprinkle some olive oil over it, spread evenly on the cracker and and enjoy for a healthy delicious mid-morning snack
Seaweed can be hand-harvested by hand (using scissors) carefully when the tide is out. Be very careful only to give seaweed a light "haircut" leaving the root system ("holdfast") and stem ("frond") intact to ensure you don't damage the growing plant. Treat seaweed plant like you would treat any land plant, if you rip it off the rock or damage it's growing parts it will die.
Remember: less is more. Harvest small quantities only to avoid having to throw leftovers out. If you do have to throw any out, simply add it to your garden soil as brilliant fertilizer.
For delicious recipes and advice from Dr Prannie Rhatigan
(I have tried them, the really are delicious) visit www.irishseaweedkitchen.ie. For upcoming seaweed (and other) cooking classes visit Soul Food Kitchen www.thesoulfoodco.ie. To learn more about seaweeds for health, contact me at www.grassrootsnutrition.ie or firstname.lastname@example.org