A far cry from the slimy strands you might see while snorkeling, mineral-rich and edible sea vegetables such as nori, wakame, arame, and hijiki offer a mild, nutty flavor, intriguing texture, and stunning visual appeal to dishes, when prepared simply and correctly. Aside from their unique taste, seaweeds are a worth a try because they can be rich in iodine, which is crucial for healthy thyroid function. Highly regarded in Japanese cooking, ocean weeds appear in Chinese herbal medicine treatments to help balance female hormones, treat fibrocystic breast disease, and heal uterine fibroids. And several studies have shown certain sea vegetables (nori, for example) can bind to environmental toxins and heavy metals in the gut, which helps increase their excretion. Try these fresh, easy ways with sea vegetables; they’re likely the best weeds you’ve ever encountered.

Nori-Wrapped Glazed Salmon with Sesame Kale

Nori-Wrapped Glazed Salmon with Sesame KaleServes 4 / The wrapped salmon fillets resemble large pieces of sushi for a fast meal with a great presentation. Serving tips: Accompany with brown or wild rice and a starter salad of cucumbers, butter lettuce, and ginger-sesame salad dressing. view recipe

Hijiki-Chickpea Stew with Cauliflower and Greens

Hijiki-Chickpea Stew with Cauliflower and GreensPrep/cook time: 25 minutes Serves 6 / This quick and simple stew highlights firm, black threads of hijiki (also called hiziki) against a creamy golden background. Prep tips: Substitute cooked lentils, white beans, or the more traditional azuki beans for the chickpeas, and use any greens, such as kale or chard. view recipe

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Arame, Broccoli, and Mushrooms

Pan-roasted chicken with arame, broccoli and mushroomServes 4 / Prep tips: Use precut broccoli florets to shorten prep time, or sub frozen broccoli, adding it closer to the end of cooking time. Serving tip: An ample side serving of vegetables makes this meal complete without a starch, but you could also serve it with soba noodles, polenta, or quinoa. view recipe

Seared Tempeh with Wakame and Burdock

Seared Tempeh with Wakame and BurdockPrep/cook time: 25 minutes Serves 3–4 / Prep tips: Once soaked, wakame takes on a beautiful, deep-green hue; it’s usually sold precut, but if you buy the long, whole pieces, break them into pieces before reconstituting, and then chop them small after they’ve soaked. When preparing burdock, scrub thoroughly but don’t peel; like a potato, the peels contain a lot of the flavor. Place burdock slices in a bowl of water to keep them from turning brown. If you can’t find burdock, substitute parsnips. Thinly slicing tempeh allows it to cook faster and absorb more marinade without extra time. view recipe