Celery!

celery18july When I was a child my nutritionally-minded mother always kept a jar of carrot and celery sticks in the fridge for snacks. Since those days, aside from a shameful period of addiction to celery stuffed with Cheez Whiz, I have always kept a few sticks on hand for chewing upon in thoughtful, snackish moments.

It’s a crucial addition to the raw veggie tray and scoops up hummus most efficiently. It’s a great edible tool for scraping up the last of your blue cheese dressing. Those of you from Ants on a Log childhoods may crave it with peanut butter, or want to share the making of it with your own junior chefs.

Celery is a good medicinal food, a close relative of bulb fennel and celeriac. Aside from the obvious water and fibre content, it’s a traditional diuretic, antioxidant and sedative, helpful in calming muscle spasms, reducing blood pressure and improving appetite. It’s good for arthritis, gout and kidney problems. And it’s a trusted herbal treatment for parasites in animals.

Celery is a key ingredient in mirepoix – with onions and carrots – the foundation of many soups, stews and other savoury dishes. As a time-saver, you might like to chop some up and keep it in a ziplock bag in the freezer to add a salt-free flavour boost to your winter recipes. Keep those celery leaves to throw into the stock pot, too!

You can add chopped celery to your juicing ingredients, browse this selection of Celery Recipes That Are Freakishly Delicious, or make it into a salad with peanuts, if you are from a nut-allergy-free family. When I lived in England and worked for a fancy band of head-hunters, our company cook used to make a delectably simple peanut-celery-mayo salad; this one is a little more slick and works well with Asian flavours.

Thai Celery & Peanut Salad
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp sesame oil (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp fish sauce (or soy sauce if you prefer)
6 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3 thinly sliced green onions
1 thinly sliced hot red pepper (and/or sweet bell pepper if you prefer)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
1/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
Instructions:
1. Whisk together the oil, garlic, lime juice and fish sauce.
2. Toss dressing with celery, green onion, red pepper, cilantro and peanuts.

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