Because the Irish/British/Dutch Good Family Featherstone - Roche in Amsterdam-Osdorp don’t consume a lot of animal products, they eat seaweed, as it’s a valuable and sustainable source of minerals and proteins. Ann-Marie stir-fries re-hydrated seaweed with vegetables for dinner. According to Dougal, Ruby (13) and Sid (9), that’s a lovely meal.
Dougal and Ann-Marie came to the Netherlands thirteen ago. Dougal lived in the UK, Ann-Marie grew up in Ireland. They came to Amsterdam in 1999, because they wanted to start a new life here. Both their children Ruby and Sid were born here. Ann-Marie, who studied as a marine scientist, was already a convinced vegan at that time which meant: no meat, no fish and no dairy products. Besides, she was aware of the benefits of seaweed in the diet.
“We didn’t want to push Ann-Marie’s vegan philosophy on to our children as it's up to them to choose whether they want to eat meat or drink milk. They eat very little meat, as we don’t prepare it in our kitchen, but sometimes when we go out for dinner they choose a meat dish. Especially Sid likes to eat Tandoori chicken once and a while. As we carefully watch our nutrition intake, we include seaweed because it’s a healthy and tasty ingredient. We first started to add it as a source of calcium and trace minerals. We now also use it as a valuable source of protein and an alternative to more energy-intensive soya options. You can eat it raw, but the texture is a bit slimy, so the children prefer to eat it in a stir-fry for example".
“How we prepare a stir-fry seaweed dish? Well, you put the dried seaweed into water for 15 minutes. In this case we used laminaria, which we bought at the organic store. You first stir-fry some garlic and ginger and then add sliced pepper, carrot and Chinese cabbage. And then add the sea-weed and some soya sauce or vegan teriyaki sauce. Ready in a few minutes, it's so easy.”
“In fact, the best thing to do is to go to the beach and collect seaweed yourself. When I (red: Ann-Marie) lived in Ireland, we went out to collect seaweed quite often. There, you’ll find carrageen moss or 'chondrus crispus', which is a small reddish-Brown algae that grows along the west coast. This variety was traditionally collected from the shoreline and used for recovering patients. The seaweed was boiled in milk and then removed before adding sugar. Carrageen is now widely used as thickener in the food industry.”
Do you have an advice for other families?
“Ruby and Sid love to make and eat sushi. It’s fun to do and a healthy snack. For sushi, you use nori, a great toasted seaweed cut into strips. If you are looking for inspiration, check www.seaweedbook.net for recipes. You can buy nori at organic stores. But don’t forget that you can also collect the seaweed yourself at the shoreline, it’s a great day out with the kids.”
Do you have a question that you would like to be answered?
“We rely heavily on the Natuurwinkel just now for my seaweed, but we are keen to find a local supplier of fresh or dried seaweed in Amsterdam. We know seaweed farming is growing in popularity in the North of Holland but we would like to find something closer. Does anybody know where we can find a local seaweed supplier?”
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Interview: Leontien Aarnoudse
Fotografie: Lotte Rijkes