MORE THAN JUST CRUDITES
YOGI FOOD [farmers’ corner]
BY RED JEN FORD
IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, WE ARE FORTUNATE to enjoy celery year-round, but
its season peaks in the cooler months of November through February. Given its omni-presence, it’s easy to take this powerful health food for granted. According to Michael
Murray’s Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, with only 20 calories per rib, celery is an excellent source of both Vitamin C and fiber. Perhaps less known is that celery is also a good
source of potassium, folic acid, B vitamins, and a special group of phytonutrients called
coumarins, which are currently being studied for their role in cancer prevention. A study
conducted at the University of Chicago demonstrated that one specific coumarin compound found in celery lowered blood pressure by 12-14% and cholesterol levels by 7%
over the course of just one week. Additional studies have shown that celery extracts help
reduce muscular aches and pains due to inflammation-induced conditions like arthritis,
rheumatism, and gout.
According to Paul Pitchford’s Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, celery improves
digestion and is especially helpful for long-term weight reduction and heart and artery
renewal. As a bitter food, celery enhances digestion of fruit and simple sugars and calms
inflammation, detoxifies the liver, and clears excess heat and damp. Given its high mineral
content and its ability to calm inflammation-related muscle or joint pain, celery juice may
be the perfect post-workout electrolyte-recovery drink.
But buyer beware: whether you enjoy celery juiced, raw, or cooked, mind the Dirty Dozen, as defined by the Environmental Working Group’s list of pesticide-containing produce
items. Celery has been identified as a leader in this list, and is one of the top 12 most contaminated foods in terms of pesticide residues. Aim for organic options or those grown
from a local farmer you trust, and avoid bunches with discolorations or limp, pliable ribs.
While celery certainly pairs well with its cousin, the carrot, dipped in ranch dressing,
hummus, or even peanut butter, let’s think outside the crudités box and consider some
other options for serving celery:
- Filled with mustard and wrapped inside your favorite tofurkey or tofu deli slice.
- Chopped and tossed with pineapple bits, cherry tomato halves, then splashed with rice
vinegar and olive oil.
- Stir-fried with ginger, onions, and mushrooms.
- Roasted with other members of the Umebelliferae family (carrots and fennel).
- Tossed with wild rice and sliced apples in a mustard dressing. >