Food Focus: Sea Vegetables
In traditional Chinese healing, sea vegetables correspond to the winter season and to the kidneys, adrenal glands, bladder and reproductive organs. The strengthening, balancing and cleansing properties of sea vegetables are known to help these organs as well as the hair, skin and nails. Sea vegetables (or seaweeds) provide a variety of minerals and vitamins, including calcium, iron and iodine, and can help balance hormone and thyroid levels in the body. Eating too many processed foods or foods grown in mineral-depleted soil can result in a lack of minerals in the body, leading to cravings for salty or sugary foods. Adding sea vegetables to your diet can help balance your energy levels and alleviate cravings.
Recipe of the Month: Mighty Miso Soup
- Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
- Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
- Yield: 4-5 servings
- 4-5 cups spring water
- 1-2 inch strip of wakame, rinsed and soaked 5 minutes
- in 1 cup of water until softened
- 1-2 cups thinly sliced vegetables of your choice (see notes)
- 2-3 teaspoons barley miso
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- Chop soaked wakame.
- Discard soaking water or use on houseplants for a boost of minerals.
- Place water and wakame in a soup pot and bring to a boil.
- Add root vegetables first and simmer gently for 5 minutes or until tender.
- Add leafy vegetables and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove about 1/2 cup of liquid from pot and dissolve miso into it. Return it to the pot.
- Reduce heat to very low; do not boil or simmer miso broth.
- Allow soup to cook 2-3 minutes.
- Garnish with scallions and serve.
Any combination of vegetables can be used in miso soup. Here are some classic combinations:
- onion-daikon: cleansing
- onion-carrot-shiitake mushroom-kale: mildly sweet
- onion-winter squash-cabbage: great in wintertime
- leek-corn-broccoli: great in summertime
- Add cooked grains at the start of making the soup. They will become nice and soft.
- Add a tablespoon of uncooked quinoa or millet at the beginning and let it cook with vegetables for 20 minutes.
- Add cubed tofu toward the end.
- Add bean sprouts toward the end.
- Season with 1/2 teaspoon ginger juice for an interesting twist.
- If using dry shiitake mushrooms, let them soak for 20 minutes, slice and add at the beginning.
© 2010 Integrative Nutrition 5/10