Whenever asked about the mission behind my culinary work, my answer is simple: To inspire people to eat healthier food. Yet to be honest, the behind-the-scenes how of this mission is much more complex. And so, for the past 2 decades that I’ve been involved with superfoods, I’ve done the relentless research (and obsessive recipe testing!) so you don’t have to: utilizing all kinds of smart and healthy tricks to make the recipes I share the most optimized they can be, in every way.
The best tricks, I find, are often the simplest. They’re the small bits of know-how that can have a big impact on your health, let alone your cooking prowess. Sometimes it’s a substitution, like using cholesterol-free coconut oil as an ideal substitute for butter. Other times it’s a method, like how to create a shockingly delicious almond ricotta. And, on occasion, it’s nothing more than the alchemy of certain ingredients—a surprisingly beneficial combination. Today’s tip lands in this last concept, with two unlikely foods sharing center stage: beans and seaweed.
Beans are arguably one of the healthiest sources of protein we have, as showcased by the long-living cultures in the Blue Zones all around the world. But if beans are not regularly consumed, their high fiber content can cause some people to experience the kind of digestive issues that lead to, well, the stuff quirky songs are written about.
Enter our superfood hero: seaweed. Many seaweeds contain special enzymes that can help break down the difficult-to-digest carbohydrates in beans, thus rendering better nutrient absorption. As one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods on the planet, seaweeds like kombu and wakame also add a vast array of trace minerals and electrolytes to recipes, for broad-spectrum nourishment that’s often hard to come by outside of supplements. And, if all that wasn’t enough, seaweed also adds a gorgeous umami flavor to beans, while ensuring they become extra tender.