Does the thought of having people over for dinner leave you in a cold sweat? Does the task of finding something—anything—that can please Paleo eaters and also draw raves from raw foodies keep you up at night?
Finding a meal that accommodates all dietary preferences, intolerances and allergies is no easy task. But don't panic! Kelp noodles are here to help.
Kelp noodles are just as remarkable for what they don't have as what they do. With only three ingredients—kelp, sodium alginate (a type of salt made from seaweed) and water—they are free from the eight most common allergens and compatible with almost all dietary restrictions. Even the sodium content is remarkably low, with less than 50 grams in a half cup. These noodles also have plenty of minerals as well—think calcium, iron and iodine.
Kelp is a brown seaweed native to Japan. A healthy food in its own right, kelp has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities and is rich in disease-fighting phytonutrients that help support your immune system. It's also a good source of calcium, an important mineral for bones, muscles, and nerve function. Some studies have indicated that kelp could even help prevent some cancers.
Plus, you and your fellow diners might end your meal with a slightly boosted metabolism. Kelp noodles are a source of iodine, an important mineral for your thyroid. The thyroid controls, among other things, your metabolism and keeping it well supplied with iodine helps with weight control. It also helps reduce water retention and regulate your temperature—added bonuses on those hot summer days.
Back to dinner: As healthy as kelp is, it does have a very pronounced oceanic taste. But not kelp noodles!They have almost no flavor of their own, so they work well in all sorts of dishes.
So what can you do with them? If you prefer your noodles crispier (almost like a bean sprout), they can be eaten right out of the package after a quick rinse. To soften them up, soak them in an acidic liquid or sauce for 15-20 minutes. Their ability to soak up any flavor you throw at them makes them ideal for just about anything: Think soups, salads, spring rolls, stir fry, and anywhere you would use pasta.
The only question now is what to make for dessert.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont