[Global] You don’t have to be into sushi to enjoy the benefits of nori, a form of seaweed, or kelp, that’s been dried and rolled into thin dark green or black sheets. Nori makes a great wrapping not just for raw or cooked fish or shellfish, but also for a wide array of other foods. Its mildly salty taste, not surprisingly, is reminiscent of the sea. This staple of Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisines is now easily found in pretty much any supermarket.
A Thin Sheet that Helps You Stay (or Get) Thin
Nori has the makings of a great food for the weight-conscious. A full sheet contains only four calories and is about one-third fiber, but that’s just the start of its virtues. Protein comprises another third of each sheet of nori, just slightly less than you’d get from half a cup of cooked green beans. If you’re a vegetarian, eating nori can help boost your protein intake without piling on the calories. According to a study that reviewed 100 earlier papers, some of the proteins in seaweed (including nori) are better sources of peptides (short chains of proteins) than those found in dairy products. They are particularly effective in alleviating hypertension and improving heart health. Seaweed also acts as a fat-lowering agent in your body, inhibiting the production of lipase, a digestive enzyme, and some research indicates it may actually reduce the absorption of fat by 75 percent.
Good for You
As a sea vegetable, nori is naturally rich in iodine, which converts to iodide in your body. Iodide stimulates your thyroid gland, which is key to regulating your metabolism, thus helping control your weight. Iodine also is essential to maintaining healthy hair, skin, teeth, and nails. Nori is also a great source of micronutrients, containing more vitamins and minerals than most vegetables and fruit. It’s a particularly full of vitamins B12 and C (with more vitamin C than a comparable amount in an orange!), as well as the minerals iron, calcium and zinc. And get this: a single sheet of nori contains more omega-3 fatty acids than a cup of chopped avocado — those essential fats help fight inflammation and improve your skin.
Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. His new book 5 Pounds is out now. Tweet him @harleypasternak.
Just the Nori
Nori contains a single ingredient, a red algae called porphyra — it becomes black or dark green when dried. In this era of heavily processed foods filled with preservatives and other additives, it is refreshing to find a food that with none of them. It’s available toasted or untoasted. The nori sold for sushi is already toasted. If you purchase untoasted nori, be sure to toast it briefly in the oven or a skillet to bring out the flavor. Seaweed has become a trendy food, with the result that there are numerous snack products out there that blend nori with other seasonings. If you purchase such products, be sure to check the ingredients list to avoid any suspect ingredients like sugar and flavor enhancers.
Ways to Savor Nori
The Koreans refer to nori as their bread, meaning that it can be used much as a delivery system to transport all sorts of ingredients from the plate to your mouth. Here are two ways to begin your exploration of this ancient gift from the sea:
Vegetable & Shrimp Hand Roll
Sushi rice is traditionally used here, however it is unfortunately very low in fiber so I switch to brown rice for this recipe. Servings vary.
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 tbsp. mirin or rice vinegar
- 2 sheets nori
- 3 oz. frozen cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, chopped
- 1/2 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
- 1 scallion, cut into matchsticks
- Wasabi paste
- Reduced sodium soy sauce
- In a medium bowl, combine the rice and Marin.
- To make the rules, place a bamboo sushi mat on the countertop with the slats running crosswise. Lay a sheet of nori on the mat, shiny side down. Lightly moisten your hands; spread half of the rice on the nori, leaving a one-and-a-half inch border on each long side. Place half of the shrimp and carrot sticks in two horizontal lines across the middle of the rice. Make similar horizontal lines of pepper and scallion sticks.
- Beginning with the edge nearest to you, lift the mat up with your thumbs, holding the filling in place with your fingers, and fold it over the filling so that the upper and lower edges of the rice meet.
- Squeeze gently but firmly along the length of the roll and tug the top edge of the mat away from you to tighten. Using both hands, press the roll firmly inside the bamboo roller. Transfer the roll to a plate, cover with a damp towel, and place in the refrigerator. Repeat with the remaining sheet of nori and ingredients. Remove rolls from refrigerator. Dip a sharp knife in water; cut each roll into 8 equal pieces. Serve with soy sauce.
Sushi Salad (Serves 4)
- 4 sheets nori
- 2 cups cold cooked rice
- 1/2 lb. chopped steamed shrimp
- 1 cup grated carrots, zucchini or raw veggie of your choice
- 1 avocado, cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp. rice wine
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 3 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
- Shredded ginger (optional)
- Cut the nori into thin strips and mix with the rice, shrimp and veggies.
- Gently fold in avocado, then toss lightly with the rice wine, sesame oil and soy sauce. Garnish with (optional) shredded ginger.
View original article at: Celeb trainer Harley Pasternak: The newest superfood you have to try