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Cucumber: Vegetable of the Month

While it may not get as much play as other summer holidays, June 14 is National Cucumber Day! So let’s take this opportunity to celebrate the humble cuke, which has both internal and external benefits.

Cool as a Cucumber
No vegetable cools you off in the summer heat as well as a cucumber—whether you eat it in a salad, blend with yogurt into a refreshing soup, dip into hummus, or just slice it up and enjoy!

But what makes cucumbers so refreshing? Their high water content! At 96 percent water, cucumbers are extremely hydrating, and if you like to make your own fruit or vegetable juices, cucumber makes for an ideal base. The nice neutral flavor is a plus too!

Cucumber Recipes
When it gets really hot, try making this cooling juice filled with strawberries, cucumbers, apples, and carrots with a juicer or blender!

Or if you like a yogurt and cucumber combination and you happen to have a lot of cucumbers on hand, try my sister’s cucumber-yogurt soup recipe:

  • 4 cucumbers
  • 24 ounces plain yogurt
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 3 green onions
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • black pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix (in small batches if necessary). Top the soup with some halved cherry tomatoes and croutons or broken up whole-grain crackers. It’s the most refreshing meal you’ll ever have!

Preventing the Puff
We’ve all woken up and looked in the mirror to see the dreaded bags under our eyes. What are they, and where do they come from? The answer, according to dermatologist Dr. Gregory Nikolaidis, is often a buildup of lymphatic fluid.[1] Great ways to stimulate lymphatic drainage include massage and exercise, but cucumbers are also helpful.

One of the oldest beauty tricks in the book involves covering the eyes with cucumber slices to help reduce under-eye puffiness. They’re thought to work in two ways: First, cucumbers contain antioxidants that help reduce skin irritation, and second, the coolness of the slices reduces swelling.

Growing your Own
Did you know you can grow cucumbers in a Tower Garden®? Both pickling and slicing varieties will thrive in this vertical aeroponic growing system. Cucumbers are vining plants, so you can train the tendrils to climb either the Tower Garden® cage or along a deck rail or fence.

Because the Tower Garden automatically waters them, your cucumbers will never be bitter, like some under-watered home-grown cucumbers. They are also safer from pests, such as slugs, which are particularly fond of cucumber seedlings, as well as from mildews and molds that afflict cucumbers. Look into growing your own cucumbers today!

What’s your favorite benefit from cucumbers? Share with us in the comments below!


[1] Kitchens S. Do cucumbers really help with puffy eyes? Pros weigh in on this beauty legend. Huffington Post. 2012 Oct 16. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/puffy-eyes-undereyes-cucumbers-cures-remedies_n_1964329.html

 

 

 

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