Celebrate February with celery

celeryFebruary marks the end of the British celery season (although imported celery is, of course, available year round), so grab some while you can, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

Celery is 95% water – and the rest of it is rich in vitamin C, minerals, soluble fibre and anti-inflammatory antioxidant phytochemicals. It’s valued in traditional Chinese medicine for treating high blood pressure. Of course, celery is an ideal healthy snack – portable, crunchy and with a handy groove that you can fill with peanut butter, cream cheese or a dip. Here are a few more ideas for adding more of this low-calorie (10 calories a stick) nutrient-dense vegetable to your 5-a-day (or more!) fruit and veg a day intake.

Classic celery juice

Celery has an alkalising effect so, so look no further for a lovely green juice recipe if you’re interested in this potential health benefit. By the way, I’ve started to add turmeric root alongside ginger root to all my vegetable juices.
Serves one
One cucumber, roughly chopped
Several sticks of celery, chopped
Big bunch spinach
One inch of turmeric root, peeled and chopped
One inch of ginger root, peeled and chopped
Juice all ingredients and drink immediately.

Celery and lentil soup

This main meal soup is a great winter warmer. I got the idea from a talk by Professor Mike Lean of the University of Glasgow about a ‘traditional Scottish’ low-calorie diet consisting of porridge and lentil soup (which he hopes will put type 2 diabetes into remission). You can keep it simple with just celery and lentils, or add any other vegetables you happen to have hanging around (I found a parsnip at the back of the fridge).

Serves four
250g red lentils
One head celery, chopped
One tbsp. dried mixed herbs
One tsp. chilli flakes
One litre of vegetable stock (you can use more, or less, depending on how thick you would like your soup to be)
Tomato puree

Cook the celery with the herbs till soft, then add the lentils and stock. Cook until the lentils are soft, then liquidise and add tomato puree to taste.

Crunchy salad

The point of this salad is to combine celery with some other crunchy ingredients. I was going to add peanuts for even more crunch, but decided to use them in the dressing to give an Oriental kick.

Serves four
Celery sticks, finely chopped
One red pepper, finely chopped
Two carrots, grated
Small white cabbage, grated
One cup of pomegranate seeds
One pineapple, sliced and diced
One tbsp. peanut butter
Flaxseed oil
Soy sauce

Whizz the peanut butter, oil and soy sauce in a food processer to make the dressing. Mix the other ingredients and toss with the dressing.

Next month: Spring forward with greens, turnips and leeks

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