Most people turn their noses up at the prospect of eating seaweed, but when they try it, their opinion changes fast. That was my experience when I tried three different kinds of seaweed flakes, harvested from the sea off Scotland by the Edinburgh-based company Mara Seaweed, who then process it into flakes (and powders) in their bespoke factory. Only areas of exceptional water quality are selected for harvesting their seaweed. For more about Mara Seaweed, check out their website maraseaweed.com.
Seaweed contains more vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals than pretty much any other plant-based food. You can sprinkle Mara Seaweed’s flakes onto salads, into fish dishes and soups and stews, even make smoothies with seaweed as the signature ingredient.
As a personal trainer in London, I’m keen to get my clients to try Mara’s range of seaweed flakes, as the health benefits are numerous. If you’re looking to lose excess body fat, seaweed flakes are a great low-calorie and high-micronutrient way to add flavour to a whole range of foods, and rich in fibre. If you have an underactive thyroid (Hashimoto’s disease), Kombu and Shony are both rich in iodine, which may help remedy your iodine deficiency. Iodine is crucial for thyroid health. Seaweed also makes a great post-workout food, replenishing electrolytes lost through sweat during exercise.
Rich in iodine, calcium, potassium, magnesium and fibre; kombu tastes of ocean salt with a savoury note. I eat a lot of salmon, and I sprinkle kombu onto salmon fillets before wrapping them in foil and cooking them in the fan oven for 14 minutes at 200c. Kombu is also ideal for soups and stews.
Mara describes the taste of shony as “sweet, mild and grassy” which pretty much sums it up. Shony contains all the minerals and fibre that kombu boasts, with the additional mineral iron and also protein. Shony is an excellent salt alternative, with less impact on your blood pressure than salt. I made a variety of smoothies with shony using my NutriBullet blender. My favourite creation so far is avocado, young leaf spinach, shony, lime juice and water.
Rich in fibre, protein, calcium, magnesium and iron, furikake packs a bigger flavour punch than kombu or shony. Furikake is a blend of seaweed, sesame seeds and spicy chilli flakes, ideal for bringing any dish to life. If you like spicy Asian dishes, try a stir-fry of king prawns, chopped red and yellow peppers, mushrooms, chopped ginger, garlic, and a generous sprinkle of furikake flakes.
(Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London and online nutrition coach.)