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Watch Your Back, Kale. Kelp Is Gunning For The Veggie Du Jour Title

NPR: The Salt

by Andrea Shea

The story of how kale went from frumpy to trendy is a great inspiration to Gabriela Bradt, a fisheries specialist at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

"Nobody cared about kale. Then it became the green du jour," says Bradt.

With a little help, Bradt says seaweeds like Knotted Wrack and Horsetail Kelp that grow along the Maine and New Hampshire coasts could make the same ascension, and earn a regular spot on restaurant menus and dinner tables.

While we may know seaweed as a wrap for sushi rice and raw fish, Bradt says it's underutilized (and under-appreciated) by Americans. "Macroalgae" can shine in soups, smoothies, hummus, snacks, even desserts.

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The American varieties of kelp and other seaweeds, though, are thought to be milder in flavor than ones found in Asian waters. But they contain the same "nutritional smorgasbord" of other sea plants — they're packed with vitamins and minerals including iodine, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B12.

To demonstrate how easy it is to eat kelp, Bradt offers to make me a smoothie.

She tosses the usual suspects into a blender – fruit juice, spinach, berries – then adds some re-hydrated Atlantic kelp from the coast of Maine. (Kelp is typically dried before it's sold, so it has to be softened by simmering it in water for 10 to 15 minutes.)

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Note: Ocean Approved does not dry its kelp. Due to the fresh, frozen nature of the product, our kelp does not need to be rehydrated for use in smoothies. It is also free of the salty, fishy flavor we associate with dried seaweeds and tastes instead like a mild green vegetable. It's very similar to kale, but without the strong taste.