But then I tried Akua Kelp Jerky and, no joke – I was actually floored. Not because I was expecting it to be horrible, but because I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so enjoyable. Akua is a new company on a mission to create a line of healthy, sustainable, kelp-based food. Their first product is kelp jerky, which comes in three flavors: sea salt and sesame, turmeric Thai and coconut, and rosemary maple and BBQ. Each 1.5 ounce bag of jerky (about nine strips) packs eight grams of protein and less than one gram of sugar (derived from maple trees, not the processed stuff), making it a healthier choice than most off-the-shelf energy bars. The jerky is made from 100 percent ocean-farmed, latissima kelp from Maine, along with shiitake mushrooms, pea protein, and chickpea flour, among other ingredients.
Unlike traditional beef jerky, which can sometimes be tough and almost tiring to chew, this kelp jerky has a more tender, yet totally substantial, texture. My favorite was the rosemary maple and BBQ flavor, which is unusual for me considering I don’t often like anything BBQ-flavored, only actually barbecue. Neither the rosemary, maple, or BBQ flavors were overly powerful, but instead, each took a turn making an appearance as I chewed. Vegans and meat-eaters alike will be satisfied, both energy- and flavor-wise, with this snack. (Variety pack consisting of three bags of Akua Kelp Jerky, one of each flavor plus bonus Akua Seagreens Cookbook, $26)