Watching your weight through the holiday season can be like watching the Titanic maneuver around ice burgs: full speed ahead and hope we don’t crash! If you’re looking for a little maneuverability with your menu (ie a way to cut calories but still enjoy your meal), consider these Sweet Potato Cubes. No added sugar, no butter, no marshmallows, and yet they’re still sweet and delicious. (Imagine that!) Click here on Sweet Potato Cubes for the recipe.
Is it bad that I’m in love with bacon? It makes so many things taste so good…especially bit pots of vegetables. It looks like a lot of kale at first, but trust me, it boils down to a reasonable amount.
½ lb bacon (or turkey bacon…gobble gobble…it up)
1 lb kale (6-8 cups chopped)
1 can red or black beans
¼ cup fresh cilantro
Sharp knife and cutting board
Large soup pot with lid
Chop onion and tomatoes.
Cut bacon into 1” pieces.
Drain and rinse beans.
Fry the bacon and onion over medium heat until onion is tender.
Add tomatoes, kale, beans and cilantro.
Cover tightly and reduce heat to medium low. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until kale is tender.
If too much liquid remains once kale is cooked, uncover and simmer 10 minutes more until liquid evaporates.
Serve over rice or by its savory lonesome.
5-6 one cup servings (Told you the kale would cook down!)
Note: I used yellow tomato and red onion when I took this picture. With red tomato, it’ll look Christmas-y 🙂
WHY WE LOVE THEM
- Cures diabetes, reduces cholesterol and controls blood pressure– Cucumber juice contains a hormone which is needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin which has been found to be beneficial to diabetic patients. Researchers found that a compound called sterols in cucumbers may help reduce cholesterol levels. Cucumbers contain a lot of potassium, magnesium and fiber. These work effectively for regulating blood pressure. This makes cucumbers good for treating both low blood pressure and high blood pressure.
I think “cures” is the wrong word to use here, Natural News. Beneficial to diabetics? Sure, I’ll give you that. But cures? Nope. As for the rest of it, I’m going to repeat myself a bit: vegetables are awesome. They do so much more for our bodies that fill our bellies. God designed plants to optimize human health which is why the Garden of Eden diet was purely plants. So, (best Mommy voice and shaking my finger at you) eat your vegetables!
10. Promotes joint health, relieves gout and arthritis pain -Cucumber is an excellent source of silica, which is known to help promotes joint health by strengthening the connective tissues. They are also rich in vitamin A, B1, B6, C & D, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium. When mixed with carrot juice, they can relieve gout and arthritis pain by lowering the uric acid levels
Blah, blah, blah – Go eat a cucumber!
Cucumber Soup (Beatrice Snare)
5 cucumbers (or more), peeled and with seeds removed, cut into quarters
1 onion cut into chunks
4-6 cups water
4 Tb butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
3-4 Tb flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt to taste
- Cover the cucumbers and onion with water and boil until soft (10-20 minutes)
- Ladle the cucumbers and onion into the blender along with some of the hot water they were boiled in – fill your blender as much as you safely can. Discard excess water. Blend until smooth.
- In the same pot you used for cooking the cucumbers, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the flour, garlic, and salt and stir constantly. It should look like a bubbly paste.
- Add ¼-1/2 cup of the blended cucumber to the paste in the pot and stir until smooth. Add another ¼-1/2 cup of cucumber liquid and stir until smooth. Keep adding ¼-1/2 cup of the blended cucumber and stirring each time until all of the liquid has been added. (Adding the hot liquid slowly prevents balls or chunks of flour from forming in your soup.) Your soup should have a creamy consistent texture.
- Add croutons and enjoy! (I added Parmesan cheese for the picture, but this soup doesn’t need cheese…I’m a cheesaholic, so I don’t say those words lightly!)
Stack of cucumbers photo courtesy of www.istockphoto.com
WHY WE LOVE THEM
- Hangover cure– To avoid a morning hangover or headache; eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish many essential nutrients, reducing the intensity of both hangover and headache.
I find this fascinating. I suspect that the one drawback to this plan is that the person who is going to have a hangover the next day is in no shape before bed to remember to eat a few slices of cucumber.
- Aids in weight loss and digestion– Due to its low calorie and high water content, cucumber is an ideal diet for people who are looking for weight loss. The high water content and dietary fiber in cucumbers are very effective in ridding the body of toxins from the digestive system, aiding digestion. Daily consumption of cucumbers can be regarded as a remedy for chronic constipation.
Water and fiber, water and fiber, water and fiber. That, my friends, is a magic mantra that can change your digestive life!
HOW WE EAT THEM
7 cups cucumbers sliced very thin
1 cup onion sliced thin
2 cups sugar
2 Tb salt
1 Tb celery seed
1 cup white vinegar
Mix sugar, salt, celery seed, and vinegar. Pour the mixture over cucumbers and onions in a large bowl and stir. Store in the refrigerator for 3 days, stirring at least once per day. After 3 days, ladle the pickles and liquid into glass jars for easier storage. Pickles are ready to eat right away and will keep in the refrigerator for up to one year.
Cucumbers on the vine courtesy of: www.rhs.org.uk
Fridge pickles photo courtesy of www.tastespotting.com
This is a great time of year to experiment with cucumbers: they’re fresh, they’re numerous, and if you stop by local roadside veggie stands or markets, they can even be cheap! For those of you just joining us (or with poor memories), we’re exploring Natural News’ list of cucumber benefits.
WHY WE LOVE THEM
- Home care– Eliminates a foggy mirror. Before taking a shower, rub a cucumber slice along a mirror and it will eliminate the mirror fogging up. Instead of WD40, take a cucumber slice and rub it along a squeaky hinge and your door will stop squeaking.
Shh! Hear that? Me neither. I want to try this, but nothing is squeaking in my house. Just speaking or squawking. No noisy hinges, but there’s plenty of noise from the sons department. I wonder if rubbing a slice of cucumber on children has a similar effect.
6. Relieves bad breath – Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.
Come closer and tell me if it worked!
Cucumber Piña Colada Smoothie
1 small or ½ large cucumber (peeled and de-seeded)
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup pineapple (fresh or canned in pineapple juice)
1 packet Truvia or other sweetener (optional)
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
Cucumber slice picture courtesy of http://healthylatineating.com/
Cucumbers are cooler than you think. Honestly, I’ve always thought of them as a salad afterthought – a white-ish space filler that you can take or leave. Turns out they’re pretty potent nutrient bombs and are even useful outside of the kitchen.
Why talk about cucumbers now? Because for some reason, this has been a bumper year for cucumbers in my garden; I’ve been picking 6-8 cucumbers every couple days and my fridge and counter are full. Invasion of the Cucumbers! Over the next few weeks we’ll explore new ways to eat them and reasons why we want to.
WHY WE LOVE THEM
Natural News.com had a great list of cucumber benefits. Let’s look at the first two:
I haven’t tried this yet. The thought of not having coffee in the afternoon makes me sad. Perhaps if I fill a coffee mug with cucumber slices…
2. Rehydrates body and replenishes daily vitamins – Cucumbers are 95 percent water, keeping the body hydrated while helping the body eliminate toxins. Cucumbers have most of the vitamins the body needs in a single day. Don’t forget to leave the skin on because the skin contains a good amount of vitamin C, about 10 percent of the daily-recommended allowance.
At 95% water, cucumbers are like portable, spoon-free soup. This also explains why I’ve been peeing so often this summer. They’re like water you can chew.
Cucumber Peach Smoothie
1 small or ½ large peach
½ banana (frozen if you’d like a cooler smoothie)
1 small or ½ large cucumber (taste the peel – if it’s bitter, peel the cucumber. If the seeds are large, remove them.)
1 Tb lemon juice
1 packet Truvia (or sugar, honey, etc)
½ cup water
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
I’m used to boiling or steaming my vegetables, so learning to cook them over a flame or coals took a little doing, but it’s easy and delicious. If you’re camping or grilling this summer, don’t forget the veggies!
CAMPFIRE SWEET POTATOES
Place 1 Tb butter, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a plastic bag. Pack 1 large sweet potato (or 2 small to medium), aluminum foil, a peeler, a knife, and a cutting board.
At camp: Peel then slice the sweet potato into 1/4 inch thick slices. Lay out a large piece of aluminum foil. Spread the sweet potato slices in the middle of the foil and cover with the butter mixture. Lift opposite edges of the foil and bring them together; roll them together a bit. You should be looking at an aluminum tube with potatoes in the middle. Flatten the tube into a rectangle and roll the open edges a bit so that they close. Yes, this is exactly what we did with the regular potatoes last week; you should be a pro at making foil potato packets by now; or you’re pretty good at cooking lopsided wads of foil. Either way, place the packet on the grill or hot coals and cook until you can pierce the packet with a fork.
Place 2 Tb oil (olive, vegetable, coconut, etc), 1/2 tsp salt, dash of pepper into large ziploc bag. Pack 2 medium sized zucchini, a knife, and, if your campfire doesn’t have a grill, some sort of pan or grate to cook on.
Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and then into thirds lengthwise so that you end up with giant zucchini fries. Drop them into the bag of salted oil and shake to coat. Spread them out on the grill or pan or a piece of scavenged foil and cook until tender.
“Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.” Proverbs 15:17