The dietitian who wanted to expand her reach…
In 2016, I was getting burnt out from managing my wellness centre. My intuition told me that private practice wasn’t it for me and I kept thinking about how I could offer more to more people. It was my qualifications in nutrition, combined with my love of seaweed, cooking and beautiful packaging, that Alg Seaweed was born in May 2017.
Hi, I am Sarah, the Founder of Alg Seaweed. Alg Seaweed makes food products using high quality and sustainable seaweed bringing convenience, flavour and nutrition to everyday cooking.
Our first range of products used only Tasmanian hand-harvested wakame seaweed. With seaweed being an under-utilised cooking ingredient for many Australians, I want to make it simple enough for people to use everyday. Seaweed is a wonderful substitute for salt, so I turned the Tasmanian wakame into condiments with five flavours for sprinkling on everyday foods like eggs, avocado, vegetables, rice, noodles, seafood and meat.
Ten months into establishing Alg Seaweed, I was pregnant with my son. It was on maternity leave that I had to put Alg Seaweed on the backseat while I navigated motherhood. It also gave me a lot of thinking time about ways to keep building the brand while being a mum.
The momentum we needed…
After comfortably being on maternity leave for eighteen months, we were shortlisted for the MARS Foods Seeds of Change Accelerator program. Although we didn’t make it to the final six teams, it gave me a boost for the first time in months and the momentum I needed. Two months later, we won the Mondelez International Snacks Future Pitch Competition at the Global Table event.
From that moment on, we were unstoppable. Over the next fifteen months, with the support funding from Food Innovation Australia Limited, we rebranded, reformulated and trademarked Rainbow Seaweed. In January 2021 we launched a range of everyday condiments and snacks that aim to create purely delicious, nutritious moments for our customers.
We need to talk about iodine…
In my private practice, by default, many people came to see me for weight loss. As I looked beyond food and exercise, I realised a significant number of my clients had thyroid conditions, especially hypothyroidism, a condition that can be caused by iodine deficiency. Hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, cold extremities and sluggish metabolism and for many, the only treatment is to be on long-term thyroid medication.
At that time, I was of childbearing age and was extra-curious about pre-natal nutrition. Iodine requirements almost double during pregnancy and breastfeeding, this is to support the mother’s thyroid function and the baby’s brain development including IQ. I was shocked to find out that up to 68% of pregnant women are not meeting their iodine requirements.
Iodine is a mineral that is responsible for thyroid hormone production and mild iodine deficiency is not uncommon especially in certain demographics e.g. women of childbearing age, vegans and vegetarians. For these strong reasons, I feel Iodine deserves as much air time as other nutrients like iron, calcium and vitamin C. People need to know what is iodine, where to get it from and how much you should be getting and why too much could be harmful.
Create delicious memories
Seaweed holds a very special place in my heart, for its nutrition, sustainability and its nostalgia.
Growing up in Asia, I have been eating seaweed snacks for as long as I can remember. My mother would buy a big packet of 100 (no joke) seaweed snacks for my brother and I. We would play rock, paper and scissors until it ran out to see who could win the most. We would celebrate our wins and eat them over a TV session.
I cherish little stories like this. A story about food, my childhood and times with my brother. He now lives on the other side of the world and I don’t get to see and talk to him often.
These food stories really inspired me to help people create their own. My toddler ‘sprinkle sprinkles’ the Rainbow Seaweed Seasoning (he calls it sesame seaweed) onto his egg everyday and I hope he’ll remember that when he grows up. I dream, that one day, someone will come up to me and tell me they grew up eating Alg Seedy Bites in their lunch box, or they were something that they shared with their parents in their car ride home.
Food for the future…
For nutrition, sustainability and flavour, seaweed ticks all the boxes. Did you know that more than half of the oxygen we breathe is produced by seaweed? It is also one of the most sustainable crops that doesn’t require land to grow. It is rich in abundance of nutrients, such as iodine, magnesium, iron, vitamin B12 and more. We need to start thinking creatively on how to use this wonderful resource to feed our growing population and to keep them healthy.
Seaweed in every pantry…
Much work needs to be done to change the perception that seaweed is not only in sushi or in southeast Asian cuisines.
Since pre-Christian times seaweed was used throughout the Mediterranean for its medicinal properties.
People from Wales in the UK make laverbread from edible seaweed found along the coastline and seaweed (limu) has been an important part of traditional Hawaiian diet for its nutritional benefits.
It’s time for this superfood to shine and be introduced to every pantry. Alg Seaweed is excited to have more products in development that are convenient, nutritious and full of flavour!
Are you ready to start using this sustainable super food? Shop our range!
Meet Our Founder
Sarah Leung is the founder of Alg Seaweed, a mother to her son Charlie ‘Dumpling’ and a culinary dietitian (a fancy term for a foodie with a nutrition and dietetics degree who loves cooking). She is also the Nutrition Ambassador of Roll’d Vietnamese.
Her curious mind led her into different areas in the profession, such as corporate nutrition, sports nutrition, the food industry, teaching nutrition in university and in an elite ballet school.
Prior to establishing Alg Seaweed, Sarah worked in private practice and had a multidisciplinary wellness centre where she gained great recognition as the finalist of the Telstra Business Women’s Award, Australian Startup Award, Smart 100 Companies Award, Victorian Young Achievers and Monash Business Award.
Sarah created cooking consultations (a.k.a Cooksultations) in her private practice where she cooked with her clients during a consultation aiming to empower them to learn new skills, try new foods and new recipes.
Sarah established Alg Seaweed in 2017 and found her true north in culinary nutrition, combining food science and cooking skills to help people understand and appreciate nutrition, culture and eating habits.