Algae superfood tastes like bacon, more nutritious than kale
Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 12:00 PM - Making healthy choices when it comes to your diet can be tough. But what would you say if we told you there is a newly developed super food that is more nutritious than kale -- and tastes like bacon?
A new strain of a succulent red marine algae known as dulse has been patented by researchers from Oregon State University, in a study led by Chris Langdon, a professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
The fast-growing 'sea vegetable' is loaded with protein and nutrients, and when cooked unleashes a flavour that is comparable to the beloved pork product.
When fried up in a pan with a bit of salt, the red lettuce-like leaves are light, crispy, and taste remarkably like bacon, according to Jason Ball, a research chef at OSU.
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Dulse grows in the wild along the northern Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, from the southern shores of the United States up to Newfoundland and Alaska. It commonly appears during the spring and summer months when the tides are out, and is often picked by hand.
The unique algae has been collected and eaten for it's many health benefits for hundreds of years in Europe and North America.
It's translucent red leaves are packed with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. It also contains up to 16 per cent protein, making it an already popular nutritional supplement that is sold in dried form, in some case for up to $90 per pound.
OSU scientists have studied the red seaweed for more than 15 years, while trying to develop a fast-growing source of food for abalone, a type of sea snail that is a popular Asian delicacy.
“We were able to grow dulse-fed abalone at rates that exceeded those previously reported in the literature," explains Langdon on the university's website. "There always has been an interest in growing dulse for human consumption, but we originally focused on using dulse as a food for abalone.”
However, that focus of the ongoing project changed when the university's College of Business was looking for potential projects for their students.
So far, Langdon has been able to grow about 10-15 kilograms a week. He plans to increase production to 45 kilograms per week, equal to about 100 pounds, with hopes of creating a sustainable food source and new industry in Oregon and other coastal regions.
With twice the nutritional value as reigning super food kale, this particular kind of dulse could make major waves in the health food industry.
The development of is a great achievement for Oregon State University, combining the work and efforts of their marine science center, business faculty and food development program.
The university has been working with their affiliated Food Innovation Center, where a product development team created an medley of new foods featuring dulse as the main ingredient.
The most successful products thus far included rice crackers and salad dressing.
They are hoping to eventually launch dulse into the health food market, with plans to incorporate it into veggie burgers, trail mix and even beer.
Local chefs are helping introduce dulse to customers by using the fresh product both in its raw form and as a food ingredient.
Source: Oregon State University
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