Cucumbers are a go-to vegetable for salads, but there are many ways to incorporate this cool, crunchy vegetable into everything from appetizers to drinks. Cucumbers are one of the oldest cultivated crops and have more than 100 different varieties. It’s believed they were first cultivated in India.
Cucumbers have about 15 calories per 100 grams, and the peel is a good source of dietary fiber and is a mild diuretic, which helps to eliminate toxic materials in the gut. It’s also a great source of potassium and is low in sodium, which helps with blood pressure and heart rates.
Cucumbers are high in vitamin K, which helps with bone strength. It also has established a role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.
You can use cucumbers in a variety of ways. Fresh, cleaned cucumbers can be enjoyed as they are. You also can cut cucumbers into cubes with the skin and add them to vegetable or fruit salads. Finely chopped, fresh cucumber slices are delicious when mixed with yogurt, cumin, coriander, pepper and salt to make cucumber raita, the popular Indian condiment that adds a cooling effect to spicy dishes.
Cucumbers also can be blended into a juice and combined with other vegetables and fruits, like my recipe for strawberry cucumber lime coolers. It’s the perfect way to cool off with cucumbers on a hot summer day.
Strawberry Cucumber Lime Cooler
3 to 4 large peeled, cubed English cucumbers (3/4 pound)
2 cups frozen strawberries
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
4 cups cold water or clear soda water, unflavored seltzer or sparkling water
Step 1. Combine cucumbers, strawberries, sugar and lime juice in a blender; blend until cucumbers and strawberries are smooth.
Step 2. Pour mixture through medium mesh sieve placed over a pitcher, and press it with a spoon to remove any lumps. Pour cold water, soda, seltzer or sparkling water into the pitcher and stir until well-combined.
Step 3. Pour into glasses with ice and garnish with thinly sliced strawberries, limes or cucumbers. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning author. Her website is www.divapro.com.