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Eating Well with Whole Foods: Cucumbers

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

With the advent of spring, our bodies naturally crave lighter cleansing foods like cucumbers. As the weather heats up, stay as "cool as a cucumber" by adding the refreshing and hydrating seasonable vegetable into your diet. Cucumbers originated over 10,000 years ago in Southern Asia and belong to the Cucumis sativus family. Its relatives include watermelon, zucchini, and pumpkin. Varieties of cucumber are grown either to be eaten fresh ("slicing cucumbers") or to be pickled. Slicing cucumbers range in size from 6 to 9 inches. Other varieties grow as large as 20 inches and are referred to as "burpless" cucumbers since they are easier to digest. Available year round, slicing cucumbers are at their best from May through July.

Chock full of water and fiber, cucumbers are a terrific source of vitamin C and the mineral molybdenum. They are also rich in vitamin A, folate, silica, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Cucumbers were popular with the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome for their beneficial skin healing properties. Today, they are still hailed for calming skin irritations, preventing water retention, and reducing swelling due to their high levels of absorbic and caffeic acids. Cucumbers are commonly applied topically to treat various skin ailments such as swollen eyes, dermatitis, and sunburn. The nutritious vegetable helps promote a radiant complexion and healthy skin due to its high water content and silica, which is critical for healthy connective tissue.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to eat the cucumber in its entirety – its nutrient-rich skin and flesh –for optimal health benefits. So, when shopping for cucumbers opt for organic because conventionally grown ones often contain a chemically treated waxed coating and should be peeled before eating. Select ones that are firm, with rounded edges, and a vibrant green hue. Avoid ones that are soft, puffy, wrinkled or yellow. Cucumbers will keep in the refrigerator for several days. Cucumbers are delicious, crunchy and refreshing. They are excellent in their natural state as a simple and convenient snack. They can also be enjoyed sliced into sandwiches, tossed into a salad with your favorite vegetables, pureed into a gazpacho soup, or dunked into a wholesome dip.

Cucumber Spring Salad

2 cups cucumber, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 tomato, cut into chunks

1 can kidney beans

Sea Salt, dash

Fresh pepper, dash

Balsamic vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Mix cucumber, celery, tomato, and kidney beans. Drizzle on balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or top with your favorite healthy salad dressing. Add salt and pepper, if desired. Enjoy!

Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com, or you can email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com,  or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.

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