Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Celery: The wondrous, seasonal vegetable

What we know of as celery today was thought to be produced back in 15th-century Italy, but it was also native to areas as far east as the Himalayas. Back then, this celery was considered to be wild and different from today’s celery in that it had more leaves and less stalks. Celery was much later introduced to the United States in the early 19th century.

Did you know that celery was first thought of as a medicine, than later a food? Its consideration as a medicine dates back in history as far back as the 9th century B.C. Then, the Ancient Greeks used the celery leaves in laurels, which were meant to be decorative pieces for their distinguished athletes. The Romans extended their use of celery by using it as a seasoning, which still occurs today as celery is used to season soup stocks and stews.

A nutritional tidbit about celery is that its crunchy leaf stalks contain phthalides.  These active compounds, phthalides, work within the body to lower blood pressure. Other nutritional information regarding this stalky vegetable is the plentiful source of vitamin K, B6, potassium, calcium, dietary fiber and a lot of vitamin C, which is crucial in helping to support our immune systems. And with cold season upon us, eating celery alone or in salads or other recipes does help in reducing cold symptoms. The many benefits of all of these vitamins and minerals assist in lowering cholesterol and enhancing and promoting cardiovascular health as well.

In regard to recipes, I don’t have a particular one that I use. I will say that celery is a must for making soups and stews as it not only adds great nutrition, but its flavor complexity gives these foods a hearty delicious taste. Here is a link for other ideas on how to use celery. All in all, this vegetable has been used for centuries and with good reason for it has enhanced our meals and our overall health!

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