Late last week, I sent out a flurry of tweets about a fantastic raw lunch I’d just made (and devoured). It was a bowl of kelp noodles with date mustard sauce and lots of dulse—paired up with a hearty salad, it was a sweet, salty, and comforting meal! As promised via tweeting, I’m sharing it with you all.
One of the biggest mental blocks that people who are interested in raw foods tend to encounter is the idea that raw food isn’t, and can’t be, comforting. “Salad’s not exactly filling,” they think, or “food’s supposed to be warm—isn’t it?”
I’m not about to disagree with the idea that warm food is comforting; it is comforting, and delicious, and that’s why I eat it. But I do disagree very much with the idea that raw foods can’t possibly offer comfort. Food preferences are highly adaptable: as soon as one gets accustomed to a routine that includes a heavy amount of raw food, the idea of “comfort food” begin to change. “Comfort food” is, by definition, any food that gives us feelings of comfort, happiness, and familiarity: it needn’t have anything to do with food that’s traditional, fatty, or carby, as we so often assume. My idea of comfort food (and drink) is kale salad, oats on a cold morning, green juice on a hot day, guacamole all the time, and coconut red pepper soup from Bonobos when I’m feeling cranky; these dishes have nothing to do with conventional definitions of comfort fare, but they’re what comfort me, and that’s what counts.
But let’s pretend for a moment that comfort food isn’t subjectively defined: let’s say that it actually does have to be warm and reminiscent of dishes we ate a lot as kids: casseroles, cookies, meatloaf, and spaghetti. So be it: there are raw and vegan versions of all of these dishes, and they’re yours to explore! One dish that’s very dear to raw foodists is kelp noodles, which I’ve written about many times: these are “noodles” made of only kelp (a sea veggie), sodium alginate (a sodium salt extracted from seaweed), and water. They’re gluten and fat free, a decent source of calcium, and an excellent source of iodine, which is a mineral that many of us tend to skimp on.
A few raw foodists eschew kelp noodles because they’re believed to undergo at least some processing; this may be true, but as far as I’m concerned they’re still a whole, plant based food, and they don’t undergo heating above 100 degrees, which makes them a very good option for raw foodies who want a pasta fix. Zucchini pasta is great, but it can be a little too cold and watery to really recall pasta: kelp noodles can be a little crunchy, but they’re a much closer approximation.
Every time I blog about kelp noodles, I get a flurry of comments asking me where they can be found, so here we go: my best recommendation is to purchase kelp noodles online, via the Sea Tangle company in San Diego. You can purchase them in a pack of 12 here: don’t fret about the volume, because kelp noodles go very quickly (I always have a bigger portion than the recommended one). You can also find information on where to find kelp noodles on the Sea Tangle website by clicking this page. And if you’re in NYC, you can find kelp noodles at High Vibe, a tiny raw foods supply store on 3rd street off of Avenue A.
.Hope that helps
I like kelp noodles with my marinara sauce, with my cashew alfredo, and with my sweet and salty avocado dressing. But my new favorite way to enjoy them is as follows:
Kelp Noodles with Dulse, Cucumber and Date Mustard Dressing (raw, vegan, gluten and soy free)
For the noodles:
6 oz (1.5 servings by package directions) kelp noodles
1 oz dulse strips (you can pre-soak if you like, to reduce sodium)
10 slices cucumber, halved
Date Mustard Dressing
Yields 1 1/2 cups
This is a fun spin on honey mustard dressing, which isn’t a vegan dish. The dates add a wonderful thickness and caramel overtones!
5-6 pitted dates
1/3 cup flax, hemp, or olive oil
1/3 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender. Season to taste, and enjoy! Will keep in the fridge for at least a full week.
To assemble the dish, warm some water over the stove until it’s still cool enough to touch, but quite warm. Soak the noodles in the warm water for a few minutes, till they’re warmed up. Strain them. (This totally isn’t necessary—kelp noodles are ready to eat—but I really think that this step makes them more tasty and “comforting.”)
Toss the noodles with the cucumbers and dulse. Pour about 3-4 tbsp dressing over them, and serve!
These paired nicely with some leftover kale and navy bean salad for a terrific and tasty lunch!
On that note, it’s study time. Off to order kelp noodles you go!