I used to think that celery was the dullest of all of the vegetables. I used to resent its mild, watery flavor. Who knows, perhaps it was an immature palate that steered me away from celery. But boy things have changed. April is National Celery Month and is a great time to learn more about celery and why it should no longer be considered the forgotten vegetable.
Did you know that today over 1 billion pounds of celery are produced each year in the United States? California, Michigan and Florida are the major producers. Worldwide, celery is a “center of the plate” vegetable, which isn’t always the case here in the United States. Maybe once you learn a little more about how good celery is for you, that’ll change!
Celery is certainly known for its crunch, which is the result of its high water content, 95% to be exact. No wonder it’s used as a refreshing side to Buffalo wings. The high water content also makes it a hydrating food and contributes to your total water intake for each day!
Chopped or whole stalks are a great way to add extra crunch in any type of dish, from tuna salad, to tacos. The celery adds texture and character.
Besides being filled with water, celery also provides many other nutrients. One cup of diced celery only contains 16 calories, making this an easy food to much on throughout the day. It also contains:
- Vitamin K. Celery is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is necessary to keep your bones healthy. It also plays a role in your body’s ability to form a blood clot.
- Fiber. This vegetable is full of insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and helps carry toxins out of your body.
- Folate. Folate is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in your nervous system’s ability to function properly.
- Potassium. Sodium and potassium go hand-in-hand when regulating your blood pressure. Without potassium, the overload of sodium causes your blood pressure to raise to an unsafe level. Potassium is able to balance out sodium and keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.
Celery also contains pectin-based polysaccharides, which have implication on your gut healthy. These polysaccharides improve the integrity, flexibility and strength of your stomach lining and decrease your risk for developing stomach ulcers. They also better control stomach secretions and acidity.
Buying and Storing Celery
When shopping in the grocery store, buy celery that looks crisp and snaps easily when pulled apart. The stalk should be relatively tight and compact and leaves should be pale to bright green in color. Avoid buying any that have yellow or brown patches!
You can store celery in your fridge in the same plastic bag you brought it home with or upright in a glass of water. It can stay fresh for one-two weeks.
Ideas for Adding Celery to Your Menus
Celery is a versatile vegetable that can be paired with almost anything. It’s refreshing and crunch qualities make it worthy of being the main vegetable instead of an afterthought when eating wings. Here are 4 ways you can eat more celery:
- Celery and Peanut Butter. You may find this an interesting combination, but I promise you it is delicious. Since celery has a very mild taste, it pairs very well with the peanut butter. The combination of smooth peanut butter with a crunchy vegetable is very appetizing. Add raisins on top for a delicious snack. You can also top it with hummus or low-fat cream cheese!
- Celery and Vegetable Stock. Braise celery in low-sodium vegetable stock and then season it with your favorite herbs and spices, such as parsley, basil, paprika, dill and curry. This makes for a quick, low-calorie, delicious side dish. You can get creative with how you flavor it!
- Celery and Stews. Add chopped or whole stalks into your favorite stew. When it cooks, the liquid will soften the stalk, creating a flavorful meal.
- Celery and Salads. Chopped celery can be mixed into tuna and chicken salad, garden salad, Greek salad, or whatever salad you want to eat! Its crunchy texture is consistent with the rest of the salad, which makes this a great match.
Remember, celery’s mild flavor allows you to be creative when including it in dishes. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new!
Your Turn to Take Action: How will you incorporate celery into your meals this month? Let me know in the comments below!