What a week of international events. Only a few nights ago we were watching Leonardo DiCaprio’s new documentary on climate change, Before The Flood (which I highly recommend). Then a couple of days later, Donald Trump (who’s previously said he doesn’t believe in climate change), was elected as the US president. I’m only hoping that he and Leo will meet over the coming months, and that DT watches that doco!
Regardless of the political atmosphere, one positive take away I’m making is that it’s a chance for us all to get active, start discussing the issues that are affecting us as a planet, and take action. Yes action! For me, that’s choosing to eat a plant-based diet, which is the kindest most sustainable form of food consumption, and the least impactful on climate change. At the same time we also try and say no to plastic bags wherever possible (I’m the crazy lady bringing back old containers to reuse at cafes and markets), and limit our use of energy and fuel. Tony takes the bus to work most days, we try to walk whenever we can, and we’ve recently just had our house double glazed and energy efficient heat pumps installed, so we can stay warm over winter yet with the smallest carbon footprint possible.
Food in particular is a significant way we can all make a positive impact on climate change. Animal agriculture and the consumption of meat and dairy is the single biggest contributor to climate change in the world, ahead of all the transportation (cars, planes, trains) combined. Seafood meanwhile isn’t scot-free either, with overfishing and ocean trawling having already depleted our fish stocks and ocean life markedly, and our coral reefs destroyed from trawling (prawn trawling is a key culprit). The issue isn’t just the fish that are removed, it’s all the other sea life which are either caught and killed in the nets, or who simply aren’t able to survive without their natural food source. If you’re interested in learning more about the issues around seafood (in addition to climate change), The End of the Line is another fantastic documentary I highly recommend you watch.
So while the current political changes are stirring up a lot of emotion, I also think it’s a chance for us to band together, and work even harder to create a world we want to live in, and leave for our children. So… in pursuit of that goal, let’s get cooking some delicious sustainable climate-change-reversing plant-based food!
This week’s recipe is a yummy Kale, Karengo and Cucumber Salad, with a creamy Japanese sesame dressing. We have a local Japanese restaurant near us we often go to, and they serve the most amazing broccoli dish with sesame dressing. Sounds simple, but it is seriously the business. So this dressing is inspired by them. The salad meanwhile mixes karengo, a seaweed (staying on the Japanese theme) with kale, which I love combining together. I’ve then added long cucumber strips to freshen things up (Mila calls them ‘noodles’), a handful of cherry tomatoes to add some colour and sweetness (which are now back in season!), and a sprinkle of sesame seeds for crunch. The result is just so yum. And a wonderful way to increase your seaweed and natural iodine intake, without the need for supplements.
Karengo – nature’s whole food iodine
Last week I spoke about spirulina in my Chocolate Mint Slice post and video (have you seen it yet? If not definitely have a watch here!). Karengo is also a type of algae or seaweed, like spirulina, but that comes in delicate fronds and is grown in the waters here in New Zealand. It can be eaten raw straight from the packet (tastes similar to a salty mushroom or truffle), soaked in water to create an anchovy-like flavour, or dehydrated or lightly panfried with the some tamari and pumpkin/sesame seeds for a delicious crunchy snack. Karengo actually happens to be one of Mila’s favourite snacks, she’ll eat a whole bowl of it with nothing else – which of course we’re pretty happy about given its amazing nutritional profile!
Karengo is an excellent source of protein (up to 40%), fibre, vitamins A, B12, C and E, iron and zinc. It’s also an incredible natural source of iodine, a micronutrient which is deficient in our New Zealand soils and thus in our diets. Iodine is needed for optimal metabolism, and is particularly important for pregnant women and children. As a result, many breads are now fortified with iodine, and pregnant ladies are recommended to take iodine supplements, to make up for the lack of natural iodine in our food. This salad is a great way of getting from a whole foods source!
The other wonderful thing about karengo is it lasts forever. After it’s picked (normally by hand), it’s dried naturally in the sun with nothing added to preserve it. If you store it in a cool dry place in a sealed container, it can last perfectly for many years (my current batch has a best before date of 2020).
This salad is a great way for you to add some karengo into your diet. I’ve included a hefty 1 1/2 cups of the salty stuff to mine, but if you’re new to the flavour, you could start out with a half or single cup instead. The dressing meanwhile is just gorgeous, and you may want to make double to use for your salads and meals later in the week. The salad is best served fresh upon making, and whilst it will keep til the next day, it just won’t look as fresh and perky.
I hope you try this iodine-rich Kale, Karengo and Cucumber Salad, and perhaps even enjoy it in front of a documentary or two! Let me know what you think in the comments below, or over on Facebook. And if you do make it, share your pictures with me over on Instagram with the tags @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics. I’d love to hear what you think of karengo!
Enjoy, and til next week, stay happy and well.
PS If you like this recipe, pin it on Pinterest, share it on Facebook or Twitter, or post it to Instagram. And if you’re not already subscribed to my weekly recipe emails, make sure you do that here! Don’t miss my next video either by subscribing to my YouTube channel here.
Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.
- 1 1/2 c karengo + 6 tbsp water
- 2 bunches curly kale ~16 large leaves
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Large pinch sea salt
- 1 telegraph cucumber
- 1 c cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds activated or lightly toasted
- 1/3 c hulled tahini
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp coconut nectar
- Pinch sea salt
- 1/2 red chilli optional
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil optional
- To serve - 1 tbsp extra sesame seeds activated or lightly toasted
- Karengo salad: Mix the karengo and water together in a bowl so it rehydrates slightly.
- Strip the kale leaves off the stalks using a finger pincer action (hold the stalk, then move your thumb and forefinger down the stalk towards the top, stripping off the leaves). Break in to bite size pieces then place in a bowl.
- Add the lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt, then massage with your fingers for about a minute until the kale goes bright green and tender. Sprinkle over the rehydrated karengo, and massage again for a few more seconds until well distributed throughout.
- Cut the telegraph cucumber into quarters, then slice each quarter into thin noodle like strips. If you have a spiraliser, you can also use that to create easy noodles. Halve the cherry tomatoes.
- Dressing: Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until super smooth and creamy, stopping and scraping down the sides if needed.
- Add 1/2 a cup of the dressing to the kale and karengo salad and lift and combine gently until the kale and karengo leaves are fully covered in dressing.
- Finally add the cucumber, tomato and sesame seeds and lift and combine gently - you don't want to lose the beautiful colours of the veges or release too much of their juices, they're best still nice and crisp.
- Serve immediately as is, sprinkling each individual plate with additional sesame seeds, with more dressing on top if desired. Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for a day or two in a sealed container, but will wilt slightly. For a more substantial dinner, add some pan fried tofu and brown rice on the side, with the extra dressing drizzled on top.
- If you're making this for kids, you may want to omit the chilli. The toasted sesame oil meanwhile is optional, but does give the dressing a really lovely extra sesame kick.
- To make this into a more complete and filling meal, add some panfried tofu on the side and a small mound of brown rice if you wish.
- I prefer hulled tahini in general, as unhulled has a slightly bitter taste to it. Unhulled however contains more calcium, but at the same time, more phytates that inhibit nutrient absorption. They're both great choices, but overall my top pick especially in this dressing is hulled!
- To make this into a dinner meal, we add some pan fried tofu and brown rice on the side. The little bit extra dressing that this recipe makes is then perfect for drizzling over the rice and tofu. Yum!