If there's one valuable takeaway in being born thousands of years into the progression of humanity, it's that a lot of the secrets to eating food have already been discovered (peel the bananas first—genius!). But, there are still quite a few little-known secrets that are actually a lot of fun to discover. Case in point: Irish moss.
Emerging from the ocean, Irish sea moss is a unique sea vegetable in that it is a potent plant source of the precursor thyroid hormones DI-Iodothyronine (DIT), Tri-iodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxin (T4), vital for treating thyroid conditions (PDF). It also contains a number of vitamins, (A,D, E, F, K), iodine, calcium, sodium, sulphur and phosphorous. Irish moss can help reduce issues in the bladder, intestines, glands, joints, skin and stomach. And, Irish moss is also an excellent gelling agent. You may have heard of carageenan, an extract of sea moss used as a thickener. But use the whole plant, say, in your smoothie, and not only do you get the thickening effect, but the whole gamut of nutritional benefits.
Here's an easy smoothie recipe using Irish moss. You can also add to mousse, puddings and raw pies as a substitute for gelatin.
If you happen to live in the Nova Scotia area and are harvesting yourself, you want to let the moss sun dry so that the carageenan activates. For the rest of us buying already dry moss (try Maine Coast), you'll need to mix with water to thicken. Rinse it well and let soak for 3-4 hours in lukewarm water. Rinse again and look for sand or debris before using. When the moss is creamy white and twice the size it was dry, it's ready.
Raw Cacao Smoothie
½ oz Irish Moss soaked and blended until creamy in ½-1 cup water
4 cups almond milk (or any type of nondairy milk)
1 frozen banana
From the Organic Authority Files
4-6 medjool dates (pitted) or 2-3 tablespoons agave to sweeten
2-4 tablespoons raw cacao powder (how much do you like chocolate?)
1 tablespoon coconut butter/oil
A pinch of Royal Himalayan Pink Crystal salt
½ vanilla bean scraped, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
Add all ingredients to Vitamix or blender and mix until creamy. You may want to start off with less Irish moss and adjust to your thickness preference.
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