Comprised of 90% water, they ought to be cool and refreshing.
Cultivated for at least 3,000 years- the cucumber (Cucumis sativus)- originated in India and are now grown generously throughout many countries. They in fact, are one of the top 5 leading vegetables grown widely in the world. They have particularly resided in Greece, Italy and some parts of Africa since ancient times. And now are a traditional part of Serbian, Bulgarian, Turkish cuisines. Mostly used in light salads, eaten before or with meals. Native American tribes began growing cucumbers, after introduced to them by the Spaniards, with trading of seed. The Iroquois were growing them amongst their other crops, such as the “3 sisters”-Maize, Beans & Squash, by the time the English settlers arrived in America.
Cucumbers were looked upon as a luxury and delight in ancient times, though they were produced abundantly. Cucumbers are even spoke of in the bible in Numbers 11:5 (mentioning of them as a produced crop), ”We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic.” And in Isaiah 1:8…”And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.”
Cucumbers are in the plant species of gourds named ’Cucurbitaeae’ and also belong to the melon family. There are 3 main varieties being cultivated: “slicing”, “burpless” and “pickling”. Slicing cucumbers (such as Fanfare, Marketmore & Bush crop) are meant to be eaten fresh, while Burpless cucumbers are said to have a more pleasant & sweet taste, while Pickling cucumbers (such as Kirby, Saladin & Regal varieties) get preserved/pickled for later use. There are also Specialty cucumbers, grown from heirloom seeds- like the Sweet Armenian variety (a very long ribbed fruit with thin skin), Lemon cucumbers (known for their zest like flavor) or ’Boothby’s Blonde’ (that produce 3-5″ yellow colored fruits with black spines).
The Persian cucumber has a growing following in the United States. This variety is a shorter, smoother thin-skinned kind with a long history of cultivation [dating back to the Fertile Crescent where North Africa meets the Middle East]. The ingredient is featured on many restaurant menus now a days. Whether Armenian, English, Persian….cucumber selections often bear the name of the place they were first raised. And an array of cucumber varieties are produced, all with varying size-color-texture and mildness. There are even white, yellow or orange-colored cucumbers!
The cool cucumber is technically a fruit, but to chefs they are more commonly counted as vegetables. Their very watery content, and neutral flavor, don’t make them taste like fruit at all. But they do have seeds, which makes them a fruit-capable of reproducing (with pollination). The cucumber “fruit” grows on vines, with have beautiful yellow blossoms and delicate tendrils. They typically thrive in temperate and tropical climates.
Cucumbers are best chosen Organic, as conventionally grown they tend to harbor pesticides and are commonly waxed for shipping and preservation. You’ll want to slice off the skin (which is a shame, because the skin is what contains the minerals) if it has been waxed, because you don’t want the chemical substance going into your body. Fresh from the farmer’s market, bought in uniform green color. solid and un-wrinkled/bruised and stored in the refrigerator (cool as a cucumber!…they don’t like heat) will provide you the best and healthiest option. Or of course delightfully picked from your own or relatives garden.
Lest I forget Larry the Cucumber from Veggie Tales! His character partners with Bob the Tomato and other Veggie Themes Characters- teaching children (many times thru use of literature, bible stories and pop culture references) moral type themes.
Nutritional Benefits of Cucumbers
A good source of Vitamin K and also contain Molybdenum, Beta Carotene, Vitamin C & B5 (energy producing), Potassium, Manganese (bone building), Magnesium and Tryptohan (you know-the substance most associated with holiday turkey & that mellow calm feelin’). Have Soluable and Insoluable Fiber.
Cucumbers contain plant polyphenols called ‘lignans’- lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol. They also boast anti-inflammatory properties (no wonder we ladies use them on our eyes).
Rich source of triterpene phytonutrients, called cucurbitacins. The fresh cucumber contains cucurbitacins A, B, C, D & E. Are a great source of flavonoid antioxidants – quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol.
Contains Silica, a nutrient essential to the formation of healthy bones, nails, skin and teeth. Also aids in collagen formation. Which is why the cucumber is most certainly a highly beautifying food.
16 CULINARY IDEAS FOR USING CUCUMBER (very cool indeed…)
#1 In Sushi & Spring Rolls
With cucumbers grown throughout the ages in much of Asia, its commonplace to find them included in their cuisine. Add thinly sliced pickle spears for a new spin and garnish with raw sesame seeds or make a black tahini sauce.
Raw Vegan Sushi Rolls from Raw Renegade Health Show
Raw Vegan Sushi by Brian Greco via Frederic Patenaude’s Site
Raw Vegan Sushi Rolls from The Simple Veganista
Raw Vegan Cucumber Veggie Rolls from Quiche A Week
Raw Spicy Thai Spring Rolls from Vegan Culinary Crusade
“There is nothing more nourishing for the skin to have than the liquid juice from the cucumber. The nutrition-rich water that it contains, when taken into the body, adds lustre to the hair, sparkle to the eye, color to the lips, tone to the skin, and spring to the step.” [Paul Bragg].
Cucumber juice is the perfect choice for detox as it contains lots of water and will flush away fat and toxins, reducing inflammation and giving radiance to your nails-skin-teeth and hair! Try one of the combinations below, or experiment with juicing more cucumber into your own favorites.
Apple Cucumber Mint Juice from The Hungry Husky
Juice Feasting Recipes Galore (such as Pineapple Cucumber Mint, Sweet Ruby, & Green Machine) from Nutrition to Invigorate Mind, Body & Spirit
**Since cucumber is also a part of the melon family, for a delicious and harmonious pairing- combine melon (watermelon, honeydew or cantaloupe juice) with equal parts cucumber juice. Gets in more vitamin + mineral rich juicy goodness. Keeps you hydrated!
Of course you could toss chopped or sliced cucumber into any vegetable salad or you can make a strictly cucumber (no lettuce) one. One of my favorite simple summer salads as a child, was my mother’s cucumber salad with dill dressing. It remains so to this day.
Chef Matt’s Cucumber Dill Salad from 80% Percent Raw
Raw Cucumber & Radish Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing from Foods for Long Life
Carrot Cucumber Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing * from Gone Raw
*(make sure to use Wild Jungle Peanut Butter- it’s mycotoxin free!)
Raw Last Minute Salad from Dara Dubinet
Fresh Corn Salad with Tomatoes & Cucumber * from Delementals
* substitute dairy Parmesan cheese for crumbled Raw Goat Cheese, PARMA! or leave out all together.
Make a 3 Melon Ball-Cantaloupe, Honeydew and Watermelon Salad with Cucumber Balls and mint, with a sweet honey mustard dressing for a sweet salad. Top with soaked & chopped macademia nuts or almonds, optional. You could also top cucumber slices with freshly chopped dill weed, and either Raw Tzatziki or Raw Creamy Lemon Dill & Macadamia Dressing from Growing Raw
#4 Cucumber Cooler
Mix crushed mint & ice, plain kombucha or young coconut water with cucumber juice for a refreshingly and cooling drink. Add raw agave/other sweetener and squeeze of lime juice, if desired. Garnish with cucumber slices or mint.
Not your usual smoothie ingredient. But cucumber is awesome, because it’s so low in calories and will help keep you full longer with its fiber. Its taste is also neutral and will easily conceal itself, when blended in with other fruits/smoothie items. It also gives you added hydration, without having to add spring water, and silica for beautiful nails and hair. Drink more green smoothies!
Cucumber Kiwi Green Smoothie by Tracy Russel, via Incredible Smoothies
Blueberry Cucumber Smoothie from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen
Melon, Mint & Cucumber Smoothie from Whole Living, Martha Stewart
Watermelon Cucumber Slushie from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice
#6 Meet Me At the Water Cooler
Walking into one place the other week, I was pleasantly surprised to see courtesy cucumber flavored water in the reception area. Done at swanky spas alike, the idea of cucumber water can be carried over to providing a warm (or rather cool!) welcome to your own guests as well. Or simply for sipping a very hydrating and delicately scented drink. Serve in a gorgeous glass pitcher with some mint or glass dispenser.
Cucumber Water: The Most Refreshing Drink Ever? written in HuffPost
#7 Cucumber Tomato Salad- Fattoush
My love makes me the best Middle Eastern Fattoush (sans the Pita- though if you’re raw you could substitute yummy herbal flax crackers!), using all fresh ingredients such as Radish-Tomato-Cucumber-[Green]Onion-Salt-Lemon Juice with a Raw Tahini Dressing. Sometimes we might add in some black pepper, sliced dill pickles, cubed avocado, parsley or olives too. It’s so fresh and simple, easy and filling! Makes a whole meal.
Try using heirloom tomatoes (in varying colors) or Persian Cucumbers for a delightful spin.
LFRV Raw Cucumber Tomato Salad by Megan Elizabeth
Tomato Cucumber Salad from Oprah
#8 In a Pickle
I got a pickle- I got a pickle- I got pickle- hey hey hey hey. And one for Snooki too.
When I was a kid I could eat easily my way through 1/2 a jar of pickles. Dill pickles are my faves. I remember partaking in the German tradition of searching for the pickle ornament, hidden deep within the Christmas tree [the child who found it first, was most observant, got an extra gift from ole' St. Nicholas]. The adult who finds it will gather luck for the whole year.
Since it’s presently the season of Octoberfest, a time known for using fermented and cultured foods… go ahead & “relish” [pun intended] a few Kosher pickles. Ya das ist gute!
#9 Soup & Gazpacho
Mmm mmm good. Cucumber soups and gazpacho, known best in the Summer months, these creations can be warmed up a bit by using heating spices and chile peppers- such as cayenne, black pepper, jalapeno, Habanero, curry, turmeric or onion. Top with fresh dill, raw salsas or a dollop of raw sour cream and chives.
Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup from Pickles & Honey
Green Zebra Gazpacho from sb & gb
Pineapple Cucumber Gazpacho from Whole Foods Market
Raw Cucumber Bisque Soup from vegan-raw-diet for Healthy You
Creamy Cucumber-Celery-Coconut Soup by GreenAura
~Water of 1 young coconut
~About 1 quart of juice from: 1 medium bunch organic celery, 1/2 jalepeno pepper, handful cilantro
or Italian Parsley, 1 long organic english cucumber, 1/4 c. sweet onion (optional)
~ 1 large perfectly ripe Hass Avocado
Place about half of water from young coconut, half of juice mixture and half avocado into blender (or you can blend juice and avocado first and add coco water slowly-as to get consistency desired. Set on smoothie setting, blend until smooth. Make second round of soup, if wanting seconds( or save for later). Sprinkle generously with ground tumeric powder on top. Enjoy!
Most raw foodies know about making zucchini noodles with the spiralizer, but you can also make light noodles using cucumber. Cucumber ribbons can be made using a vegetable peeler, mandolin slicer or chef’s knife. and make the perfect base for soaking up Ma’s-raw-nara sauce (try Kristina Carillo-Bucaram’s Epic Raw Marinara), a raw pesto or cold-pressed olive oil/black olives and sun-dried tomatoes and basil.
You can even make beautiful ribbons using firm cantaloupe and pair with the ribbons of cucumber, and a sweet dressing (such as poppy-seed). Top with dried cranberries, goji berries or mulberries, and chopped almonds.
for another idea… check out a beautiful post about Cucumber Noodles with Sweet Corn and A Creamy Brazil Nut Sauce from VeganYumYum
Vitamix Pesto with Cucumber Noodles from Blend It and Mend It
Cucumber Noodles in Mango Nectarine Sauce from RawSynergyTv
#11 Cucumber Sandwiches Or Wrap
For those new to raw or transitioning to a high raw diet you can make a vegan friendly sandwich on sprouted grain bread or wraps-note not 100% raw- (from companies such as Ezekiel Breads or Manna Organic Bakery)- using cucumber slices and your choice of: sliced avocado/guacamole, sprouts, dill weed, red bell pepper, tomato or salsa, thinly sliced apple, red onion, tahini dressing, honey mustard, basil, raw cheeses, marinated mushrooms, raw mayo, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, olive tapenade, raw hummus, raw baba ganouj, etc.
Or you can add cucumbers into your favorite raw wraps on romaine, rainbow chard, cabbage leaves or homemade sprouted bread or between flax/veggie crackers. Make 1 of mock tuna pate, plain veggie & hummus, mock egg salad, a caprese sandwich using raw cheese-tomatoes-balsamic dressing & basil, falafel—the list goes on and on!!!
You can even have ”cucumber sandwiches” for tea time or appetizers…using the cucumbers slices as a substitute for the bread. Just make sure to have some type of spread inside to hold the ingredients on. Top rounds with a little tahini dressing, pink sea salt and fresh dill weed (one of my favorites). Or a dollop of guacamole with a sprig of cilantro. Or raw soft cheeses and a red grape.
#12 Cuke Crudite/ “Cukers” or Eaten Plain
Cucumbers as crackers. Commonly plated at parties and gatherings, cucumber rounds make a wonderful “chips” for dressings and dips. Just follow some proper etiquette, and don’t double dip! And if you’re the one hosting, chill the veggie platter in fridge first or keep on ice at the party (crisp vegetables more pleasing and flavorful).
Pair with a cucumber dip recipe below or use one of the following:
Raw Ranch Dressing from The Rawtarian
Low Fat Hummus from Gone Raw
Baba Ganoush from The Renegade Health Show
Pour the dip into a bright hollowed out bell pepper, for a charming presentation.
Of course, whenever you need a little snack…try reaching for plain cucumber round. It will fill you up with fiber and hydrate you with water, without adding many calories or fat to your diet.
Well there’s one is certainly “out there”, but give it a go! You’ll be wonderfully surprised with the results.
You can freeze the cucumber limeade/ lemonade recipe (see below), and sweeten further using agave-honey-stevia-coconut nectar or other prefered sweetener. Mix the limeade/ lemonade with watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew melon juice for a fruity frozen treat. * You can even make mock margarita inspired pops, by adding Kombucha and agave nectar.
Make beautiful Lemon Cucumber SPA Pops from Fresh Family Cooking
Whip up a favorite salsa, for your next raw Taco Tuesday! After dinner have the mock margarita inspired cucumber pops, mentioned above.
Use bright or green heirloom tomatoes for the best flavor.
Bomb Cucumber Salsa from Raw Experiences
Raw Cucumber Salsa from The Clean Eating Mama
Enjoy jazzing up your salad with cucumber dressings, and dipping crudite into these recipes below or experiment developing your own low-fat raw vegan salad dressings( incorporating cucumber).
Raw Tzatziki or Raw Creamy Lemon Dill & Macadamia Dressing from Growing Raw
Cucumber Dressing from Kravmagagirl via spark recipes
Creamy Cucumber Dressing or Dip from Addicted to Veggies
Tzatziki Sauce from Raw for Life
#15 Chilled Cucumber Lemonade/Limeade
Served up chilled or on ice, with a sprig of thyme or organic lavender.
Cucumber Limeade* from Everyday Food, Martha Stewart
*substitute refined sugar for raw sweetener (stevia, honey, coconut nectar, yacon syrup, agave- to your prefered sweetness)
Follow recipe above or add cucumber juice to raw lemonade or limeade.
#16 Cucumber Coleslaws
For an untraditional take on a classic side dish, mix grated cucumber into your raw coleslaws. Follow one of the delicious recipes below for inspiration.
Raw Cucumber Zucchini Slaw with Avocado Sauce from VegWeb
Fresh Zucchini and Cucumber Slaw with Nectarines & Mint from Not Eating Out in New York
Cucumber Cole Slaw from uncooking 101 **
**This recipe was originally found in Raw News Bites, Eva Rawposa’s free weekly e-zine for raw food lovers and anyone looking to feel great. You can get your FREE recipes and tips, and your free subscription to Raw News Bites, at www.uncooking101.com. PLUS you will receive a link to download Eva’s book “Around the World in 8 Easy Recipes” when you sign up, as your WELCOME GIFT!
Other Practical Uses for Cucumbers
FOR BEAUTY- As mentioned, cucumbers contain a high dosage of silica- an agent helpful for achieving lusterful hair, strong nails and teeth, plus smooth/ toned + glowing blemish free skin. Eating cucumbers alone or in juice form will give your beauty a boost- try it for yourself! You can make natural skin treatments using cucumber, as demonstrated here at Raw Earth Living with toner, masks and bath recipes. Aubrey Organics makes a wonderful line of Sea Buckthorn and Cucumber products for Combination Dry Skin.
FOR EYES- Ever since I was a little girl, I knew about placing cool cucumber slices over the eyes (spa time) as an anti inflammatory aid. The cucumbers reduce swelling, and dark under eye circles, when repeated over time. After a long day of work, unwind by putting the food on your face, with a nice soothing song playing and lighting a scented candle/incense . Perhaps a bit silly, but very affordable and effective.
FOR FRAGRANCE- Burn crisp clean cucumber scented candles, such the natural soy Suntouched Round Massage Candle [in Cucumber-Melon] from Earthly Body.
FOR BODY- Wash with natural cucumber smelling soap. Natural brands of cucumber soap help to relieve upset skin (it’s cooling effect works against inflammation, puffiness and wrinkling). It also has astringent properties, making it excellent for those with oily, acne/black head prone skin. The soap will tone the skin and restore delicate PH balance.
FOR SUNBURN- Much like aloe vera, placing raw cucumber slices gently onto sunburned skin, will help to ease and cool the inflammation & redness.
FOR CELLULITE & WRINKLES - Rub a slice or two along prone areas for a few minutes. The phyto nutrients in cucumber cause collagen to tighten- thus firming the outer layer of skin and reducing the look of cellulite. Try on wrinkles for same effect.By drinking cucumber juice your skin will stay youthful and plumped with collagen -the raw way….no surgery required!
Well I’m off to make some cucumber juice- seeing that today is Day 59 of my Juice Feast! Lovin’ the slightly chilly weather of Autumn here in Southern California. Though I do so miss those boot & sweater wearing days, smoky smells and the blazing brilliant hued leaves of Sugar Maples in New York- a beauty forever painted on my soul. ’Til the road brings me home again….
Stay Cool & Eat Happy,
“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.” ~ Walt Whitman
1. [featured front photo, cucumber slice] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/vizzzual-dot-com/2738586453/”>viZZZual.com</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
2. [cucumbers, forming heart shape] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ad_studio/6765144259/”>DSarle</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
3. [blossom on vine] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/smb_flickr/2992214781/“>. SantiMB . via http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
4. [cucumber, seeds, up close] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/atomicshark/215358660/”>atomicshark> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
5. [sushi, on white plate] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/justinwkern/3610392943/”>kern.justin</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
6. [sushi, unwrapped] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/where-is-gali/5623664911/”>where-is-gali> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
7. [juice] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurapadgett/5860299560/”>laura padgett</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
8. [cucumber cooler] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/photosmakemehappydotcom/7940447590/”>photosmakemehappy.com</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
9. [cucumber salad] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnnystiletto/7794757554/”>I Believe I Can Fry</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
10. [pickle jar] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/chiotsrun/6002512854/”>Chiot’s Run</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
11. [soup] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulteriorepicure/1317418274/”>ulterior epicure</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
12. [cucumber ribbons] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sifu_renka/7651995272/”>Sifu Renka</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
13. [crudite platter] http://www.flickr.com/photos/grandgrrl/4720744169/”>lynn.gardner</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
14. [dressing] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnnystiletto/7988389439/”>I Believe I Can Fry</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
15. [salsa, verde] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/5440778627/”>avlxyz> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
16. [popsicles] http://www.flickr.com/photos/sifu_renka/5898815110/”>Sifu Renka</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
17. [lemonade] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/rossgrady/5923086450/”>ross.grady> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
18. [counter with cut cucumber salad, seasoning] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/santos/3221699949/”>chotda</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
19. [coleslaw] http://www.flickr.com/photos/symic/4829928114/”>Symic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
20. [fall leaves, road] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/rkramer62/4110009353/”>rkramer62> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
21. [larry the cucumber] <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosetech/5559276248/”>MooseBot</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>