Thursday, June 24, 2010

Celery--who knew?

Over time I've come to realize that, while I don't really care for cucumbers as much as I think when I see them in the store, I really do like the taste of celery, especially when I find it in a meal where I wasn't expecting it. My photographer friend's Pad Thai is one of these meals--she snuck some celery in there last time I had it, and my tastebuds did a little dance when they tripped over that light and crunchy bite. The same thing happened when we enjoyed our stir-fry soup this week. Celery goes great in chicken soup! The crispy pieces in the middle of the soft noodles and tender chicken was just right. Springy and fresh!

Celery is sometimes called a "negative calorie food," meaning it takes more calories to chew and digest it than the food itself contains. The idea that celery is a staple of dieters who are severely limiting their calories is kind of off-putting to some people, which is maybe why I never remember that it's actually quite tasty AND good for you. It *looks* really boring, but it's so not!

Did you know that celery is actually a great source of vitamin C? Yeah, that vitamin found in oranges and bell peppers and broccoli--it's also hiding in those pale, unassuming stalks. No wonder chicken soup is so good when you're sick! Celery can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You can see more of celery's awesome credentials here, one of my favorite sites.

While the Clean Eating Machines don't eat a 100% organic diet, celery is one of the items I always buy organically. It is on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list--a list of the 12 most contaminated fruits and veggies, which they recommend you purchase organically if possible. What makes celery so dirty? Its lack of skin or peel makes it highly susceptible to pesticides and chemicals used on conventional crops, which are hard to wash off with just soap and water. Buying organic celery ensures that your stalks are safer. You can see how the produce is rated here.

When I buy a bunch of celery, I try to wash and prep it right away, to keep it from getting limp. It's also a lot easier to add a handful to your soup, stir fry, or simple sandwich when it's already washed and cut! I like to cut one bunch (a package usually contains two) into sticks, which I store in a dish with water to keep the ends from browning; the other bunch gets chopped into smaller chunks.

Here are my favorite ways to enjoy this crunchy powerhouse:

--In my favorite Chicken Beet Salad, which I will make this week with beets from the farmer's market.

--Mixed with tuna, Greek yogurt, dill, chopped fresh tomato, and Dijon mustard for a tuna salad sandwich.

--In chicken stock or soup, Asian-inspired or not! This is a great way to use the celery you may have forgotten about and allowed to get a little soft... I won't tell.

--As a quick and crunchy side with burgers or other summertime fare, dipped into homemade Ranch (or other) dip made with plain yogurt.

--In this tabbouleh recipe from Clean Eating Magazine.

Is there a fruit or veggie you tend to forget about until you have it, then realize how much you enjoy it??


  1. Celery is the ONLY veggie/fruit that I actively avoid! But I'm glad you love it. My H adores it as well.

  2. A vegetable that branny doesn't like? I cannot wrap my head around that right now. :)