​Nutrition: Celery and squash -vegetables of the month!

Tuesday 08 May 2018

For those of you who read my blogs regularly will know that at the beginning of September I started looking at seasonal fruits and vegetables.

So for October the fresh fruits and vegetable to look out for are; Apples, pears, damsons, Fenland celery, Jerusalem artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celeriac, kale, parsnips, pumpkin, squash and swede.
Again a very good selection. I notice Brussels sprouts. I think they are a bit like marmite you either love them or hate them. I must say that I love them.

This month I am going to focus on Fenland celery and winter squash. Both have wonderful health giving properties and have been researched as potentially beneficial for those with cancer. Not that I would pick them out as being particularly special because a good selection of any colourful fruits and vegetables have been shown to be hugely beneficial. The book called The Rainbow Diet by Chris Woollams focuses on this subject.

This is a member of the Umbelliferae family along with carrots, parsley and fennel. Although most people associate celery with its stalks, its roots, seeds and leaves may also be used.

Health benefits of celery;
Celery is an excellent source of the immune boosting vitamin

C and also B vitamins for energy release and hormone balance. It is also very high in potassium which is alkalizing for the body. It is probably best known for its diuretic properties helping to remove excess fluid from the body but it also contains an array of phytochemicals.
One is called Coumarin which has been shown to be capable of enhancing the activity of white blood cells of the immune system that help fight cancer. Another phytochemical called Acetylenes has been shown to stop the growth of tumour cells. One other interesting compound is called Apigenin, found in the stalks and seeds of celery, this acts in a very similar way to the anti- inflammatory drugs used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Preparing and serving.

  • Raw celery can be eaten whole, juiced or in salads.
  • It can be lightly steamed and served as a vegetable or added to soups stews and stir fries.
  • It is good cut into 1” lengths and roasted in the oven with a selection of root vegetables.
  • Spread washed stalks of celery with cashew nut butter or almond nut butter for a refreshing satisfying snack.
  • Try this refreshing juice to aid digestion and help to reduce bloating; Blitz together 3 stalks of celery, ½ fennel bulb chopped, 2 sage leaves, a sprig of oregano, 2 cored pears plus Worcester sauce or tamari sauce to flavour.
  • Try this salad which is light and refreshing and aids digestion.; ½ celery root cored and thinly sliced, 2 apples cored and thinly sliced, 2 fennel bulbs cut into thin slices, 2 tbsp of capers rinsed and finely chopped, 3 tbsp of chopped parsley. 2 tbsp of fresh mint leaves chopped, seasoning.
    Simply combine all of the ingredients neatly in a bowl and pour over a French dressing or a small amount of mayonnaise.

Winter Squash  
There are several members of the winter squash family including,

Acorn squash- a green skin speckled with orange with a sweet nutty peppery flavour. Butternut squash- shaped like a long pear with a sweet creamy coloured skin.

Hubbard squash- a large sized squash that can be dark green, grey-blue or orange-red and is less sweet that other varieties.,

Pumpkins- generally small but similar to butternut squash,

Spaghetti squash-  large and yellow and the flesh pulls away in strands like spaghetti

Turban squash- Green in colour and either speckled or striped with a taste that resembles hazelnuts.

Because they all have a very hard skin they will store very well in a cool place for up to 6 months.

Health benefits of winter squash.
Very rich in carotenes like all orange/red fruits and vegetables, Carotenoids are a group of more than 600 naturally occurring pigments and are powerful antioxidants. They also improve communication between cells and strengthen the immune system.

Pumpkins are also high in vitamin C, B vitamins and fibre.

Preparing and serving.

  • The hardest part of preparing a squash for cooking is the peeling because the skin is so hard. Many recipes recommend that you oven bake with the peel on and then scrape the cooked flesh put afterwards. I usually cut them in half scrape out the seeds and then bake for about 30 mins or until the flesh is tender.
  • I sometimes peel cut into chunks and steam the squash and then mash it with potato to serve as a vegetable or use as a topping for a fish pie instead of just plain potato.
  • They are great oven roasted with other vegetables like peppers, courgettes and red onions. This makes a great salad or after they are roasted and still hot mix through some cooked rice or quinoa to make a substantial meal. To this you could add some pine nuts or chickpeas or flaked salmon to add the protein element and so make a complete meal.
  • Combine cooked and pureed squash with stewed apple and serve as a pudding or use with live natural yogurt or to fill wholemeal pancakes.
  • Use as the base for a soup. I usually saute some onions in a little olive oil add a little cumin powder, peeled and diced squash some stock and a tin of tomatoes. I cook this over a gentle heat in a large pan till the squash is tender, about 15 mins, and then liquidize the lot together. Delicious and so nourishing.
  • Curried butternut squash and apple soup. Place a peeled and diced butternut squash in a blender with the juice of 2 oranges and blitz until smooth. Add 2 chopped up tomatoes, 2 apples that have been cored, 2 tsps of garam masala, 4 pitted dates and 2 cups of warm water. Blitz all together. Pour into a pan and warm gently but do not boil. This way you will get maximum nutritional value from the ingredients.
  • I hope that you try some of these ideas and enjoy. You may have some of your own that you would like to share.

The Rainbow Diet Paperback – 1 Feb 2013
by Chris Woollams  (Author)


Blog originally written by Caroline Oct 2013

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