I happen to LOVE cucumbers and use them in many recipes. I especially like to get a fresh cucumber and eat it whole. The best is when they come right out of the summertime gardens.
By definition, a cucumber is a fruit because it develops from the flower of the cucumber plant and contains seeds. A lot of other “vegetables” are also fruits: beans, peppers, pumpkins, peas, and of course, tomatoes.
In this week’s recipe blog, I give you several reasons and ways to enjoy this terrific and fun vegetable/fruit.
Some of the health benefits of this delicious crunchy vegetable are:
- Low in calories but high in many important vitamins and minerals
- Contains antioxidants
- Promotes bone health
- Promotes hydration
- Aids in weight loss
- Boosts cardiovascular health
- Can help lower blood sugar
- Promotes regularity
- Easy to add to your diet
- Soothes the skin
- Makes a soothing eye compress
- Helps combat bad breath
- Cost-effective and easily accessible year-round
Summertime Cucumber Salad
Quick-and-easy * serves 4
This is the barebones basic cucumber recipe. I often add other ingredients such as arugula, tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, red bell peppers, or other in-season vegetables.
Remember to eat with your eyes and your appetite.
The beauty of food makes everything taste that much better
- 1 pound cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Fresh dill or basil diced to taste
- Cracked black pepper to taste
How to Make It
In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber slices with the salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate for 10 minutes, then serve.
Fermented Whole Dill Pickles
In my last recipe blog, I offered tips and benefits for fermented foods. Here is one of my favorite recipes using one of my favorite foods. Super easy and super-duper healthy.
INGREDIENTS for a ½ gallon of pickles:
- Pickling cucumbers to fill a ½-gallon jar
- 4 Tbsp. quality sea salt
- 1 and a ½ quarts filtered water
- At least 6-9 cloves peeled garlic
- 4-6 bay or kefir lime leaves
- 2 large heads of dill or 2 Tbsp. dill seed
- Cabbage leaf or another green leafy vegetable.
- Optional -Spices to taste: There are some good organic pickling spices that you can buy in bulk at most health food stores or online. You can also make your own mix with a combination of spices that suit your pallet. Most pickling spices are a combination of black peppercorns, juniper berries, red pepper flakes, and mustard seeds. I like to add fresh turmeric or horseradish root to mine for the extra health benefits.
- Make a brine by dissolving the salt in the water in a half-gallon jar.
- In another half-gallon jar, add half of the spices and garlic and pack the cucumbers tightly into the jar. (Put the longest cucumbers at the bottom of the jar.)
- Top off the jar with the heads of dill, and the other 1/2 of the spices.
- Pour the brine over the pickles, leaving 1-2 inches of headroom.
- Cover the brining pickles with the cabbage leaf.
- Make sure all ingredients are immersed in the brine at all times. If pickles are not packed tight enough, they may rise above the brine. You can put a clean rock on top of the cabbage leaf to keep pickles submerged.
- Cover the jar with a loose lid or coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
- Ferment at room temperature (60-70°F is preferred) until desired flavor and texture are achieved. The brine will turn cloudy and bubbly, and the pickles will taste sour when done.
- Eat right away, or store in a refrigerator or root cellar and enjoy them year-round.
You can use this same recipe and divide it into smaller jars. You can also slice the cucumbers or add other crunchy vegetables, like radishes, carrots, or yucon to make the fermented pickle recipe just as well.
Fermentation is a transformative action of taste, creativity and full of health benefits. Enjoy the process and benefits of fermented foods.
To Your Health
Big Love and Aloha