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Summer Can’t Come Soon Enough!

With all the indoor time of late, let’s get a jump on some warm weather tastes. Eating is a powerful sensory experience. It can stir-up nostalgia, excitement, and take you to another place—like summer! As we dream of the coming season, we think of refreshing foods such as fresh-cut juicy fruits, crisp and crunchy salads, sizzling grilled fare, and ice-cold beverages at poolside or beachside. With all of that in mind, here are two recipes that you can experience right now.

We’re switching up the traditional salad. You know, you can have a savory salad without leafy greens. What?! We found that this Celery, Pear & Hazelnut Salad brings the perfect amount of sweet, savory, and crunch to the table.

Celery is considered part of the umbellifer family, which also includes carrots and parsley. An umbellifer is known for its aromatic qualities and umbrella-like flowers. The origins of celery are unclear, but there has been evidence that the seed was transported to Switzerland as early as 4000 B.C. Other archaeological evidence tells us that wild celery is native to the Mediterranean, and another species of celery was used in China as early as the 5th century. Nonetheless, historically, celery had a variety of purposes, including medicinal treatments in Egypt, Rome, and China, victory crowns woven for the Greeks and Romans, and even a wreath found in Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt.

This peppery, herb-like tasting vegetable has an exciting nutrient profile while being 95% water. It contains 1.4 grams of carbohydrates, almost no protein and fat, 1.5 grams of fiber, and just 9 calories per 100 grams of celery (about one medium stalk). In the body, water serves as a solvent, chemical reactant, and regulator of body temperature. Despite the high-water content, celery also contains potassium, calcium, folate, and vitamin K. Potassium is a mineral that plays a significant role in maintaining fluid balance, muscle and nerve function, and energy metabolism. Calcium is a major mineral that makes up 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of the average adult body weight. It is significant in skeletal and tooth structure, blood coagulation, muscle and nerve functions, and energy metabolism. Folate plays a vital role in a systemic reaction called methylation, which supports heart health, synthesis of DNA and RNA, and fetal neural tube development. Vitamin K plays an essential role in blood coagulation as well as maintaining bone and tooth strength. While providing many benefits, celery can be enjoyed raw, sautéed, and roasted in salads, soups, casseroles, seasonings, and more!

Additionally, you may have heard of celery juice’s powerful health claims of lowering blood pressure or treating eczema. Although there are beneficial nutrients in celery, there is simply not enough science-based evidence to back up these claims. If you like drinking celery juice, by all means, do so, but some of the claims are based on a few animal studies (no human studies), and recommendations from celebrities. For those who like to drink celery juice, it is cautioned for people with kidney complications to veer away from drinking large quantities due to the high level of soluble oxalates.

Bosc Pears have a long, curved stem and elongated neck, with a cinnamon-brown coloring that is unique to this variety of pears. Bosc pears are very popular and, when in season, can be found in most grocery stores, so make sure to keep your eye out for them in late September through April. The harvest of this variety of pear begins in the fall in Oregon and Washington. They can be added to almost any dish to add a little sweetness, and because these pears have firm, dense flesh, they’re also ideal for baking.

Pears are rich in essential antioxidants, plant compounds, and dietary fiber. One medium-sized pear contains 6 grams of fiber, about 25% of the recommended daily intake for healthy adult males and females. Pears contain a soluble fiber called pectin, which nourishes gut bacteria leading to better management of gut health. Additionally, they provide vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. These vitamins and minerals play a role in the body’s immunity and heart health. Pears can assist in managing blood pressure and are a great snack to incorporate into a heart-healthy diet. Vitamin C helps to fight off free radicals, which can put your cells under oxidative stress and lead to chronic disease. Including more pears into your diet increases your antioxidant consumption, promotes the reduction of free radicals, and your risk of developing diabetes, cancer, and even neurological diseases like dementia.

Our second recipe is for a frozen treat you can feel free to indulge in. This Strawberry Mango Popsicle has just three ingredients—mango, strawberry, and lime. That’s it! So please. Eat. It. All.

Mangos are part of the drupe family. Other members of this plant family include olives, dates, and coconuts. The Ataulfo mango is a Mexican variety that is also called “honey mango” or “baby mango.” This mango is smaller than the traditional mango and has an oblong shape. While most mangos are known to have a more tough and fibrous consistency, the Ataulfo mango is creamy and buttery inside, making them more sought after.

In Mexico, the most common way these mangos are eaten is to simply slice them and add a sprinkle of lime salt or chili pepper for a sweet and savory snack, but they can be enjoyed in so many other ways. This variety of mango has an impressive nutrient profile providing more than 100% of our recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C can assist in supporting the development and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. It also is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A and calcium. Vitamin A is very important for vision and bone health, and with just one cup of this mango provides 50% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A.

Stay safe, everyone, and we hope you enjoy these recipes!

Celery, Pear & Hazelnut Salad

Photo credit: Petrina Tinslay. Recipe adapted from FoodandWine.com

Ingredients

½ cup hazelnuts
2 T cider vinegar
2 tsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ cup olive oil
6 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 medium Bosc pear, cut into 1½ by ⅜” matchsticks
¼ cup chopped dill

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Let cool, then transfer to the kitchen towel and rub them together to remove the skins. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the cider vinegar with the mustard and salt. Gradually whisk in the hazelnut oil. Add the celery, pear, dill, and hazelnuts and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Strawberry Mango Popsicles

Photo credit and recipe adapted from thecleaneatingcouple.com

Ingredients

2 cups fresh Ataulfo mango, chopped
1 T lime juice
½ tablespoon lime zest
¼ cup strawberries sliced

Directions

1. In a blender, puree mango, lime juice, and lime zest until completely smooth. While blending, slice strawberries into thin slices.

2. Pour mango puree into popsicle molds until ¾ of the way full. Drop multiple strawberry slices into the popsicle molds, pressing down so there are strawberry pieces throughout the popsicle. Add remaining puree if necessary to fill popsicle molds to the top.

3. Cover popsicle molds with the base/sticks and place them into the freezer for at least 3 hours.

4. Serve + enjoy!

Note: If you’re having trouble getting pops out of the molds, run the mold under warm water for 30 seconds – 1 minute.

 

References:

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-celery

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/06/13/481617408/celery-why

https://www.thedailygarden.us/garden-word-of-the-day/umbellifers

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/285430

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275921#benefits