Ok, you’re thinking I’ve gone totally batshit, aren’t you? Its ok, you can say yes. I would totally think the same thing too. But just give me a few minutes to explain why I’m “introducing” these two very commonplace and oft consumed veggies!
In last week’s P:FB post, I taught you that “cheap” ingredients can be used to bulk up meals and smoothies. So today I want to introduce cukes and celery as amazing ingredients to use in a non-traditional way (read: not in salads or with dip): as smoothie “fillers” and nutritional powerhouses.
So let’s go, shall we?
Full disclosure: I cannot stand cukes on their own. Once I discovered cukes and pickles come from the same thing, I just…I couldn’t do it.
Also, I’ve only included that which has the support of science. I use WH Foods to look up nutrient levels and food characteristics.
Cukes are perhaps the best smoothie ingredient discovery I’ve found yet! Here’s why:
- Chock full of antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese.
- Chock full of phytonutrients like flavanoids and lignans.
- Mildly sweet flavor.
So we hear words like “antioxidants” and “phytonutrients” tossed around. A lot. What does it mean? Well the science is still mixed but in the health food world these nutrients are generally thought to be anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. The reason for this, of course, is because they have an alkalizing effect on the body. In short (if you aren’t feeling a brief video lesson right now), this means that they make more oxygen available to your cells. Inflammation and cancer don’t thrive in oxygen-rich environments. <–Note I said “thrive.” It doesn’t mean that these things can’t occur but that is a topic for another blog post looking at when bad things happen to good people.
“Goitrogen-free” is a term you’ve probably seen popping up more and more on the site. I promise to explore that in-depth in the near future. In short, it has to do with thyroid functioning. As someone who has an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), I try to avoid goitrogens. Or at least, I have been since I learned about them!
So the first three reasons are all health benefits. The last two, on the other hand, are just gosh darn practical. If the idea of drinking your greens causes your stomach to turn (or if you just err on the side of being slightly weak stomach-ed or nauseous, especially in the morning), then cukes are the way to go! The flavor is light and downright refreshing. This is enhanced by the fact that cukes are really mostly water which means two things: 1) you’re basically drinking lightly-flavored water and 2) they add bulk to smoothies…aka more smoothie for less money. Allllllriiight.
Celery, though an amazing smoothie and juice addition, is not quite on par with cukes (IMO, of course). The main reason for this is that celery has a bit more characteristic (aka noticeable) taste. When you add too much, you know! Despite that, I’ve made celery a regular part of my smoothies because it offers a ton of benefits.
- Rich in numerous minerals including sodium and potassium, which together play a huge role in regulating fluid balance (aka it makes you pee!) as well as neuronal activity.
- Chock full of immune-supporting nutrients like vitamin C and coumarins.
- Savory tasting.
Another highly alkalizing veggie to help support total body health. Skipping down to number 4, being fibrous is a benefit not only because it helps clear your intestines but also because, once again, it helps to bulk up the smoothie. The savory taste can, of course, be either a positive or a negative but I personally love it when I want a little extra ZING in my smoothie. I also love dipping celery sticks in almond butter for a pre-workout snack. Nom nom nom.
Finally, it is important to note that both cukes and celery are supercharged with vitamin K, one of the fat-soluble vitamins. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, these guys are stored in the liver and, you guessed it, fat and do not need to be replenished as often. This means, please don’t go on a cuke-and-celery bender. Vitamin toxicity is a real and dangerous thing! On a lighter note, Vitamin K supports bone and blood health.
I hope you enjoy this more light-hearted post and see these two humble veggies in new light. And of course, what post about greens would be complete without a picture of my fave way to enjoy them?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist. This is not medical advice but rather my personal opinions based on research I’ve done, content I’ve been taught, and my personal experiences. Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet or regimen.