Lunch Break: Kelp Noodles with Dulse, Cucumbers and Date Mustard Dressing

by Gena on April 7, 2011

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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 Smile

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:

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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!

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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!

xo

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg April 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I tried kelp noodles for the first time at a raw restaurant in Seattle last summer, and I fell in love!!!

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Valerie @ CityLifeEats April 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Oh yum – this is reminding me I need to order kelp noodles again. And agreed on comfort foods being a personal thing – I think for me the key is that it be in a bowl – so soups, salads, steamed veggies, sweet potatoes, quinoa, spiralized zucchini. Pasta used to be a comfort food, but I seem to the other comfort foods more these days as long, of course, as they are in a bowl. :)

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

I am just in love with the Cucumber and Date Mustard Dressing recipe! Dates, oil, ACV, and mustard…perfect combo! No onions, garlic, or much added salt which is perfect for me.

I have to admit, I am not a kelp noodle fan. I have tried to like them but they are not my thing. But, zucchini noodles, now we’re talking :)

Comfort foods…I find comfort in fresh, simply prepared meals that are veggie-focused and usually raw. And I won’t, I find comfort in coffee + chocolate, too :)

Good luck studying!

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Hannah April 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Kelp noodles also have very, very, few calories, so I would need to eat foods alongside it that actually have calories! But I am curious to try them!

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Felicia ( a taste of health with balance) April 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm

i just got kelp noodles yesterday and i’m so excited to try! anything with dates in it is sold in my book.. i’m obsessed!

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Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day April 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Have you tried dehydrating zucchini noodles? I love them.. they get nice and chewy

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Kristyn (getvegucated) April 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

That date mustard dressing sounds great! Something I would never think of. I’ll definitely try this sometime soon.

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Lauren @ Healthy Food For Living April 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Fantastic idea to sweeten the dressing with dates! I will definitely be trying that out.

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Ela April 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm

That whole combination sounds delicious–and awesome that you share a good source for the noodles too. I may order me some up here.
There’s something about dates and cucumbers that is just heavenly. When I lived in CA and had more access to good dates (no pun intended) and grew my own cucumbers, I used to make a date-cuke-mint salad that always got raves…
love
Ela

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Christine (The Raw Project) April 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm

It took me a little bit to redefine comfort while converting to a high raw vegan diet, but salads are very much a comfort food to me now especially with creamy hemp dressing. This kelp noodle dish looks wonderful! Especially the Date Mustard Dressing, I can’t wait to try it! Thanks!

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Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope April 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I’ve never tried kelp noodles before! This dish looks incredible though.

I completely agree that comfort food is relative. I would almost consider apples a comfort food for me because I’ve ate them daily since I was little and it always brings me a little “comfort” when I bite in! Great post!

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Emily April 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I love kelp noodles! I grew up eating lots of homemade pasta, so anything noodle-y is comforting to me. I would never have thought to combine the ingredients in this dressing; I’ve got everything on hand, will have to mix some up and try! Thanks :)

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tweal April 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm

This sounds like a yummy recipe for kelp noodles. I’ve had them a few times, and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them. Their unique texture is addictive.

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Mimi (Gingersnaps) April 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Date mustard dressing sounds amazing! Lol…the only dried fruit I have on hand right now is mango…but that’s a risky sub even for my adventurous palate.

And woohoo on spreading the kelp noodle love! Those buggers are awesome. I think they turn some people off because they resemble those gag-worthy Shirataki noodles that Hungry Girl promotes. I was nervous the first time I tried them, but I actually loved the slight crunch.

You are so right about changing tastes. To me, comfort food now is a sweet potato with cinnamon and almond butter, or hummus and pita. SO much different than my pizza-loving younger years.

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Keri - I Eat Trees April 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I really want to try kelp noodles! I’ve done the raw zucchini or carrot noodles, and we really enjoy them, but kelp noodles sound like something I’d love (and my husband would be scared of).

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Jessica April 7, 2011 at 8:08 pm

After I tried a seaweed (wakame, I think) salad for the first time at an Asian restaurant a month or two ago, it feels like I have cravings for it every other day! I have yet to try kelp noodles yet, but they’re on my list.

I get “salad can’t be very filling” from my dad ALL the time. Even though I’ve completely filled a big dinner plate full of glorious romaine and veggies. He still offers me non-vegan food, too. At least he’s stopped asking me if I want meat. :)

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Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher April 7, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Huh, raw noodles. Would have never thought!

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Donca April 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I’ve tried the shirataki noodles and yam noodles (the real ones from the asian market) and heard that the kelp are similiar but better I would love to try them.

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Aurelia April 8, 2011 at 3:28 am

Guacamole definitely counts as comfort food. Plus, it’s a raw food the boyfriend is happy to make. Woohoo!

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Hannah April 8, 2011 at 5:43 am

It helps your American readers… :( Ah well, I’ll simply have to stick with date mustard sauce on watery zucchini ;)

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Kristin (Cook, Bake, Nibble) April 8, 2011 at 7:44 am

This looks SO good! And I just so happen to have some kelp noodles in my fridge… awesome! :D

xo

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Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing April 8, 2011 at 11:11 am

Your creativity never ceases to amaze me, Gena. I love that in your list of comfort foods, you simply stated, “guacamole all the time”… I don’t think there’s ever been a moment when guacamole wasn’t right ;)

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Deah April 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I love seaweed but have been finding that it makes me extremely naseous if I eat it in the quantities one would probably use for kelp noodles. Do you think kelp would do the same thing? Or have you heard of anyone having allergies to sea vegetables?

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bitt April 8, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Not to really answer your question but kelp noodles don’t taste or smell fishy at all, if that would help. They are pretty bland.

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bitt April 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I think comfort foods have different meanings depending on the comfort we seek. Sometimes comfort foods to me are foods that are easy on the stomach, as someone who suffered and still does sometimes suffer from digestive upset. Not all raw foods fill that category, I still struggle with raw greens and veggies when I am a bit nauseous or under the weather. Raw foods that always seem comforting to me are fruit smoothies, bananas, and actually lots of other fruits too. Nut butter of course too.

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elise April 10, 2011 at 1:37 am

if you moved to ca finding kelp noodles would never be a problem ;) just sayin’

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glidingcalm April 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm

mmmm! like healthy ramen!! :)

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Phoo-d December 15, 2011 at 9:52 am

I made this for dinner last night and the salad dressing was awesome. I love the combination of dates and mustard. What a great idea!

As for the Kelp noodles….it was our first time trying them. Are they supposed to be jaw-breakingly chewy? I soaked them in very warm water for probably 20 minutes and they never softened at all. It was all we could do to chew/choke our way through a bowl. Am I missing something or doing something wrong?

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