Seaweed? Yep, that's right, those beautiful vegetables that grow in the ocean. They're really quite tasty! I realized recently that I had not yet highlighted this wonderful, mineral-rich plant. Did you know that sea vegetables offer a concentrated source of trace minerals, particularly iodine? Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is incredibly important for normal function of the human body. So important that every single cell has a receptor for this amazing "master switch" of metabolism. Want to have perfectly regulated body weight and body temperature? Then shoot for optimal thyroid hormone function. How do you do that? Eat a gluten-free diet that keeps your autoimmune thyroid antibodies down, and add in some seaweed on a regular basis.
Seaweed is one of nature's richest sources of iodine. Iodine is THE key ingredient in thyroid hormones. We have all heard of T4, tetraiodothyronine, the pre-hormone, and T3, triiodothyronine, the active form of thyroid hormone, but what does that mean? It means four iodines attached to a tyrosine amino acid or three iodines attached to a tyrosine amino acid. One of these iodines is removed with the help of selenium as a cofactor when turning the inactive T4 into the active T3 thyroid hormone. So in essence, if you do not have adequate iodine and selenium, your body may not be able to produce enough thyroid hormone. Are you eating a diet high in phytates, oxalates, and raw cruciferous vegetables? You may have an increased need for iodine, as these foods tend to bind to iodine.
Seaweed can be found at your local health food store. Look for kombu (kelp), wakame, hijiki, arame, or dulse. I keep kelp granules in a small container on our table to sprinkle on food. I like to add wakame to soups like this one.
Adzuki Bean and Sea Vegetable Soup
Serve this nourishing soup for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can make this on the stovetop or in your slow cooker. Although adzuki beans don't need to be soaked before cooking, I have found that when using the slow cooker you need to soak them in order for them to cook properly. Before you go to work or school in the morning, place your beans in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Then before you go to bed that night, drain the beans and place them into your slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. You will wake up to a pot full of warm soup to serve for breakfast or pack for lunch! I prefer to use homemade chicken stock instead of water for the base of the soup; it adds much more flavor and nutrients. Serve this soup with a dollop of sticky brown rice if desired. This soup can be used for Phase 1 of the Elimination Diet by omitting the mushrooms and using water or homemade vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock. Please note that I use a ready-to-use Pacific Wakame from Emerald Cove. It is already broken into small pieces that you can just toss into soups and stews, though I like to crush it to make the pieces even smaller. I use about 2 tablespoons per batch of soup. You can also use wakame strips and then just break them into little pieces. Look for seaweed in the bulk section of your local co-op or health food store (sometimes it can be in an obscure, hidden place) or the asian foods section.
1 cup adzuki beans, soaked for 8 to 12 hours
1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
2 to 3 carrots, diced
1 to 2 stalks celery, diced
4 to 6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 to 2 strips wakame, broken into small pieces
8 cups water or homemade stock
2 teaspoons sea salt (omit or lessen if you are using a salted stock)
hot pepper sesame oil
dash of rice vinegar
dash of coconut aminos
spoonful of soy-free, gluten-free miso
Saute the diced onion in the oil for about 5 minutes, or until softened. If you are making this recipe on the stove, then add the remaining ingredients to a 3 to 4-quart pot, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
If you are using a crockpot, then add the sautéed onions to the pot and then add the remaining ingredients, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours.
To test and see if the beans are cooked you can take a few out and mash them between your fingers. They should be soft and mash easily. If not, continue to cook until done. Serve hot with optional garnishes (my favorite is a combination of chopped cilantro and hot pepper sesame oil). Source: www.NourishingMeals.com
Slow Cooker Update:
After my last slow cooker post I had a few emails and comments about the presence of lead in slow cookers. I did quite a bit of research and found that yes, lead can be found in the ceramic crock but as long as you don't have any cracking in the crock, that no lead would leach out. Here is an interesting article I found: The Skinny on Crock Pots. You can read it and do your own research and then decide whether or not you want to use one. I have a small 3-quart crockpot that I have had for years. It is in great condition because I rarely use it. It is just too small to make meals for our family. When I make a recipe, I like to make a large enough batch so we can actually have leftovers! But it still comes in handy for cooking things like meat, which we eat a much smaller amount of, and for smaller batches of soups and stews on occasion.
More Soups and Stews:
Lentil and Kale Dal
Curried Carrot Cauliflower Soup
Thai Fish Curry
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