Kelp is stealing the spotlight from kale. Like kale, kelp is green, bursting with nutrients, and versatile. Plus, it’s grown and harvested with little negative environmental impact. This seaweed is a major food trend this year, so it will probably be a mealtime favorite in 2023. 

While kelp has been dried, pureed, fermented, pickled, steamed, and roasted in Asia and Scandinavia for centuries, only powdered kelp was readily available in the United States until this century. 

Kelp, officially a brown alga that turns green when cooked, has several varieties, all of which are good for you. A 2-ounce serving of fresh kelp has 25 calories, plenty of iodine, and some omega fatty acids, calcium, and vitamin B12. 

Fresh kelp carries the fishy taste of the sea. Those who want to tone that down should blanch the kelp to remove the fish flavor. Efficient cooks can pick up frozen pureed blanched kelp in cubes from many supermarkets. These can be thrown into smoothies, soups, and pesto. 

Fresh kelp has umami and a slightly salty taste. Dried kombu kelp has a strong fishy taste, but dried baby kelp has a mild flavor. 

Kelp can invigorate salads and soups, is an exciting addition to pasta dishes that use poultry or seafood, and makes a healthy addition to baked goods like scones, muffins, and cookies. Dried kelp, which is sold in flakes, sheets, and powder, can work like bay leaves, providing a strong layer of flavor to broths, beans, and sauces. 

Regardless of how you use kelp, you will be rewarded with dishes boasting interesting flavors and lots of nutrients.

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