Summer is on its way out, but cucumbers are still here and it’s still in the upper 90s in Texas. So we’re still enjoying the refreshing produce before we say goodbye to cucumbers for a good long while (well fresh ones, anyway – there’s always pickles!). Now is a great time to savor cukes before we transition into soups and stews and yummy winter squash and cold-weather crops like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. I’m really ready for the change and am beginning to stockpile butternut squash, acorn squash and spaghetti squash. So keep an eye out for heartier recipes to come.
In the spirit of late summer, I made a seaweed salad adapted from a recipe in Food and Wine Magazine from a Maine seaweed harvester named Kacie Loparto. I used wakame seaweed harvested in Maine (one of the greatest places, ever) from Ironbound Island Seaweed. It’s really important to get seaweed harvested sustainably from clean waters and this is one such source. Ocean vegetables are a real delicacy and a food I eat occasionally for their wholly unique sea-like flavor and serious nutrient potential.
They have a very broad range of minerals and contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties that scientists are learning more about it. This fiber-rich food also seems to boost fat loss, provide prebiotics for good gut bacteria, and soothe the lining of the digestive tract. Wakame is best known for its high iodine content, helpful for people with hypothyroidism. Better to get your iodine from this whole food than from processed salt with added iodine. I do want to note that not everyone does well with a lot of seaweed in their diets and I typically think of it as a condiment, adding strips to soups or a nori sheet to make a sushi-inspired wrap. Kombu goes into a pot of beans to make them more digestible, and dried dulse can be sprinkled on to food like salt. But a salad chock full of seaweed a few times in the summer seems cool to me, especially with salmon sashimi!
Back to cukes. Crisp Armenian cucumbers (or another similar seedless cucumber) are my favorite for simply eating, as they have more flavor and a heartier texture than regular cucumbers. Not only are they hydrating and replenishing, cucumbers contain cancer-fighting lignans and have positive effects on diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and weight loss. Pretty good for a versatile, easy-to-grow veggie.
Avocado adds a richness to salad and supremely healthy fats and antioxidants, along with hempseed oil, which although is high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (the not-so-good fats in vegetable oils), it’s in a balanced ratio with the more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, and its vitamin E and vitamin D and may improve eczema, heart health and inflammation. It tastes really good in this salad too, but you could always use a high-quality sesame oil instead. Really all of the ingredients in this salad have health benefits, but I’m going to call it a day here so I can play outside for a bit.
Enjoy the last days of summer with your favorite summertime meals!