11/8/11

Sea vegetables


(picture from Marxfoods.com)

One of my passions in life is learning. I was out of school for 1 1/2 years between the years 2000-2011 and I was bored and striving for something more. Although I absolutely loved working as the wellness coordinator at the North Pinellas YMCA (after I graduated with my master degree in exercise physiology in Dec 2005), I was not receiving the right amount of stimulation for my mind.

Although my dietetic internship was extremely stressful and time-consuming, I learned a lot (more than I imagined!) and realized that I wanted to continue learning in the field of clinical nutrition. I have really enjoyed the opportunities that I have experienced since obtaining my RD credential and regardless if I am in the hospital as a clinical dietitian, coaching athletes to cross their first or 50th finish line or helping people reach personal weight/exercise goals, I always keep myself educated so that I don't let my personal opinions/thoughts affect how I help others. Understanding that every person is unique, my goal is to help individuals achieve balance, both in life and in sport.

Working at a hospital keeps me on my toes. I learn something EVERY time I am there and I love how I can interact so closely with the patients. Last week I received a consult from a doctor, regarding a diabetes education. To my surprise, the patient did not speak English so I had a family member as my interpreter. As if carb counting isn't hard enough!...but it was just another entertaining experience for me during a busy day of assessing patients. I absolutely love working and as a new clinical dietitian, I still get amazed by my patients and what the human body can endure.

While reading the November 2011 issue of Environmental Nutrition I came across an interesting article: Vegetables from under the Sea. Most of this information was new to me, so I thought that I would share some of it with you.

Sea vegetables, forms of algae, are one of nature's most valuable foods. Thousands of different sea vegetables have been identified, classified into categories based on the colors brown, red or green. Depending on the type, sea veggies may posses the following attributes:
-naturally low in calories
-Some contain up to 47% protein
-Many are rich in vitamins A, the B group (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, B12, folic acid), C,D,E, and K.
-They typically contain minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
-Brown sea vegetables, such as kelp and arame, are very high in the mineral iodine (1/4 cup kelp contains 279% DV).
-While they don't appear to contain the same polyphenol antioxidants found in terrestrial vegetables, some have other antioxidant compounds, such as alkaloids and phlorotannins.
-They contain fucoidans, starch-like molecules that appear to have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral benefits.

Due to the harsh environment in which they grow, sea vegetables produce interesting bioactive compounds. Peptides derived from sea vegetables appear to have blood-pressure-lowering effects.


DIVE INTO SEA VEGETABLES
pg 7

-Arame (type of kelp) - dark brown strands with a mild, semi-sweet flavor and firm texture.
*Use in salads, stir-fries, rice, vegetables, tofu and vinaigrette.

-Nori (seaweed) - mild, nutty, salty-sweet taste, usually available in sheets.
*Wrap suchi rolls and add slices as a garnish for noodles and soups.

-Kombu (brown kelp) - Dark sheets with mild flavor.
*commonly used in Japanese soup stock; add to salads, rice and beans

-Kelp - flat, leaflike plants, sold fresh, dried as powder.
*Try roasting, pan-frying or boiling; season rice, soup, grains and veggies

-Hijiki (black seaweed) - has a firmer texture with strong flavor that sweetens during cooking.
*Simmer with tofu, vegetable, rice and noodle dishes.