Eat more nori

This paper-like snack is full of nutrients and flavour!

For those who are a bit old school, you may have noticed the millennials in your midst eating something that looks like a greenish-black version of carbon paper, the thin crinkly layer placed between sheets of paper to transfer writing from one to the other. But instead of an old- fashioned way to make copies of things, this crunchy snack is actually quite delicious and healthy.

Sushi lovers are likely already familiar with nori, processed Japanese seaweed wrapped onto sushi rolls, used as the outer wrapping of a rice ball (onigiri), or sometimes julienned and sprinkled on top of a salad. In recent years, it has become trendy to consume the paper-thin version of this common sea vegetable on its own, the same way one might munch on a bag of chips.

Unlike the aforementioned bag of chips however, nori has negligible fat, and is quite rich in a number of vitamins such as A and C, and minerals such as riboflavin, folate, niacin, iron and zinc. It’s also rich in iodine, making it a good addition to your beauty routine given the importance of iodine to healthy hair, nails, skin and teeth— what’s more, this mineral also contributes to optimal thyroid function. Nori is also very high in calcium, meaning it is an excellent option for those who don’t eat dairy to get an extra jolt of this essential mineral. And like a number of other foods in Japanese cuisine, nori is also linked to a longer life.

Often referred to in English as seaweed, nori is technically a type of algae common to colder coastal waters. Though the nori that we currently know is paper-like, nori originally was consumed as a paste up until the Edo period, when methods of Japanese paper-making were used on seaweed to create the thin paper-like texture we know today. Though seaweed occurs naturally in the ocean, the nori that is used in Japa- nese cuisine today is actually farmed from seeds that are “planted” on stakes and then placed in the water. Once harvested, the seaweed is shredded and then pressed into sheets, much like wood pulp is pressed into sheets of paper, to become what we see on grocery store shelves today.

There are also different types of nori depending on what it is being used for. The type used for sushi rolls is slightly thicker and considered to be of higher quality. The colour of this type appears black, where the snack or onigiri type tends to appear green and sometimes nearly transparent. So if you’re shopping for nori, pay attention to the colour and make sure you get the thick type for your sushi rolls and the thin type for your snack. And since you probably won’t have much luck making copies with either type, try taking pieces of thin, crispy nori and slicing them into ribbons for topping a salad or finely crushing them into salt for a tasty seasoning.