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Cool as a Cucumber

Staying ‘cool as a cucumber’ has to do with staying hydrated through these hot summer months. The flesh of the cuke is mostly comprised of water (over 90%!). It also has the ability to keep its flesh slightly cooler than the outside temperature staying cool itself. And yet the cucumber also packs an impressive store of minerals and vitamins.

When it comes to high water content, cucumbers are not surprisingly related to the watermelon. They’re also part of the same family as the zucchini, pumpkin and other squashes. Cucumbers and cucumber juices are truly traditional delicacies. They’ve been keeping people cool for thousands of years.

The Health Benefits of Cucumbers:

  • The watery flesh of the cucumber provides vitamin C, carotenoids and folic acid.
  • By contrast, the fibrous skin contains silica, potassium and magnesium.
  • The silica contained in the skin of the cuke makes it great for supporting our connective tissue (our muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments), and our skin.
  • Used topically, the ascorbic acid and caffeic acid help to relieve water retention, which is why cucumbers are used for swelling under the eyes (I love this usage), burns and other skin irritations.
  • Because of its high water content, cucumbers are perfect not only for cooling you down, but can also be used as a diuretic, to help support the kidneys, and to relieve edema.
  • Cucumbers also act as an alternative. This is the term for a cleansing and purifying food that helps to alter the blood and restore the function of the excretory organs.
  • The cuke contains a digestive enzyme called erepsin. Erepsin helps to break down proteins and supports intestinal health. For this reason, I love using cucumber and cucumber juice in my detox programs for most biotypes.
  • The Organic Factor: Cucumbers are readily sprayed to prevent the prevalence of the cucumber beetles that carry fungal and bacterial wilts to the plant. Conventional cukes are also often waxed to protect them from bruising during shipping. Bottom line: Buy organic cucumbers!

Uses for Cukes:
The many ways to keep your cool…

  • Cucumbers can be pureed with tomatoes, onions and herbs for a quick summer gazpacho.
  • Cooling cucumbers can be chopped and added to any salad, including a salmon or chicken salad.
  • Cube them and mix them with mint, snap peas and vinegar for a delightful summer side salad.
  • Mix cubed cukes with dill and yogurt for a refreshing tzatziki.
  • Combine with tomatoes, olives, onions, oregano and olive oil for a lovely Greek salad.
  • We like to slice them and sprinkle them with sea salt. That’s it!
  • Don’t forget that juiced cucumbers are great for your digestive organs and your most vibrant skin!
  • And like I said, I like to stick them on my eyes in the morning, right out of the fridge. When was the last time you gave that a try?

And hey, if you’re looking for a snack that’s simple to make (but looks fancy) – cut up your cucumber, whirl up the topping, and give these cuke canapes a try.

double ginger cuke canape

These scrumptious little summer hors-d’oeuvres are a perfect party dish or a midsummer night’s garden meal in themselves. They incorporate an adaptation of one of my favorite recipes, a Pacific Almond Rim Pate from Renee Loux Underkoffler’s book Living Cuisine. Topped with pickled ginger – a sweet little fermented delight to help boost your gut bacteria – they tantalize the tongue with the coolness of the cucumber and the fire of the spice. 

makes approximately 2 cups pate

ingredients:

  • 1 medium cucumber, roughly peeled & sliced thickly on a mandoline or medium-thin by hand
  • 2 cup raw almonds, soaked approximately 6 hours
  • 3 TBSP minced fresh ginger
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos
  • 2 large soft, pitted dates, or 1-1/2 TBSP yacon syrup, or 1 TBSP raw honey
  • pinch of sea salt or more to taste
  • pickled ginger (recipe below)
  • black pepper

preparation:
Drain and rinse the soaked almonds. In a food processor, grind the almonds, ginger, green onions and garlic into a fine meal. Add the tamari and sweetener of choice and blend until soft. Place the cucumber slices on a plate. Top with a good sized scoop of pate. Be sure the cucumber slices are sturdy enough to hold the pate. If they’re on the thin side, use ass pate! Top the pate with pickled ginger (recipe below) and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.

pickled ginger

ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh ginger
  • 1-1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp probiotic powder
  • 1/2 cup water

preparation:
Peel and cut the ginger into very thin slices. (You may use a mandoline if you have one.) Pound the ginger slices to release their juices. Place the juices and the pounded ginger into a glass jar. Mix with salt and water. Add probiotic powder, seal, and store at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. After that, store in the refrigerator. The fermentation process will turn the fresh ginger slightly pink.