How About Something New? Lemon Cucumbers!

“Wow! What are those?” That was my exclamation to the man behind the Froggy Meadow Farm table at the Green City Market here in Chicago on Wednesday. He looked at me kindly, appreciating my enthusiasm and happily replied, “lemon cucumbers.” Clearly I was curious, so I asked him to give me the low-down. Turns out lemon cucumbers are actually an heirloom variety of cucumber. They are round and yellow like lemons, but taste like very mild cucumbers. He informed me that the best way to enjoy them was to cut them like a pie versus slicing them. My face must have look puzzled, so he further explained that cutting them this way gives you a better ratio of skin to flesh to seeds.

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That made sense to me, so then I asked him how to pick a good one and he instructed me that the lighter yellow cucumbers are younger and therefore have a thinner skin, but they are not as sweet as the older, darker yellow-colored cucumbers. “It’s a matter of preference,” he told me, if you like a thinner skin, go with the light yellow, but if you want a sweeter cucumber and don’t mind a thicker skin, go with the darker yellow-colored cucumber. I asked him to pick one of each for me. He rang me up and as I handed over my $1.50, I thanked him profusely then excitedly made my way home, eager to sample my new-found treasures.

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I couldn’t wait to get home and try these little guys. I dove right in, cutting them into wedges, then slices. I did notice the thicker skin when cutting the darker cucumber, but it wasn’t absurdly thick. A taste test revealed that I actually liked both versions. The thinner skin is nice, but I kind of enjoyed the crisp, crunch from the thicker skinned cucumber. It was a toss up for me, both were delicious! Now, what to do with them???

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Try my ideas below for lemon cucumbers or be creative and come up with your own!!!

  • Swap them for green cucumbers in Greek salad or other salad recipes that call for cucumbers.
  • Eat them like an apple and enjoy them whole.
  • Cut them into wedges and serve with other crudite as a great snack or appetizer
  • Grill them and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt and crushed black pepper

Celebrate National Nutrition Month! Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle!

It’s that time of year again, National Nutrition Month! For dietitians around the world, it’s a time to celebrate and encourage you to enjoy the amazingly, nutritious world around you! We feel like every month is National Nutrition Month, but we know it’s not practical to suggest celebrating 12 months a year, so we have designated March as the official month-of-honor. This makes perfect sense to me, considering March is the time of year that you start to feel the hope of Spring. With that hope comes the desire to do a little “Spring cleaning.”

This year I encourage you to take your Spring cleaning to another level. Sure, it’s great to tidy up your home, but why not tidy up your lifestyle as well? Take a moment this month to reflect on your health. Ask yourself how you’re feeling. Really take a close look at the ways you could “clean-up” the way you eat and the way you participate in life. Pick one or two things that you know you can “clean” and make a pact with yourself to do it.

For example, look in your refrigerator. Do you see a bunch of food going to waste in there? Take the time to remove things that have expired and give your refrigerator (and freezer!) a good scrub. Re-organize the food so that you can SEE everything and try to eat those foods that expire quickly, first. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel once you open the door to a clean, organized refrigerator! (It feels amazingly similar to a clean closet!)

Or maybe take a look at your activity level. Do you find yourself making excuses for not moving more? How about instead of making excuses, come up with reasons why you should be moving more? Maybe you should move more because you want to stay healthy to play with your grandkids. Or maybe you want to move more so that you aren’t winded after one flight of stairs. Or maybe you want to move more because you want to run your first 5K this summer! Find inspiration and it will motivate you to move more!

March is the month to “Bite into a healthier lifestyle!” Why not celebrate by Spring-ing into action by tidying up your diet and lifestyle! Carpe Diem!

A New Form of Art

When I was much younger I firmly believed I was a gifted artist. Looking back at my art projects from school it’s evident that I was giving myself quite a bit of credit. Enter my mom. God bless her. She is an extremely talented artist and was (and still is) one of my biggest supporters, always complimenting my work and hanging it everywhere.  I knew from a young age that she was talented and I suppose I wanted to believe her when it came to my s0-called “talent.” I also wanted to be more like her; carefree, able to express myself and open to coloring “outside the lines.” 

My mom is talented and creative and I love seeing what she can build on a blank canvas. For her, paints and other materials are her tools for expression. When I was a teenager I remember looking at all of the paints and those canvases feeling slightly intimidated. As soon as I would lay a color down, I would regret it. Or I would start painting one thing only to be disappointed in how it looked. Let’s just say I gave up on it for awhile.

It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve picked up “art” again. This time, in a medium that seems more true to who I am. A medium that excites me and elicits my creativity. That medium is food. With food, I can create beautiful, thought-provoking works of art just like you would with acrylics or paint or pencils. I love that you can turn a pepper into a million different dishes or cut it a different way it and it almost tastes different. For me, food is my passion and being able to express myself this way is a true treasure.

I tell you this story because maybe it’s time you looked at food differently. Maybe, right now, you look at food as just a way to get energy, shoveling it in without much care. Or maybe you’ve spent too much time eating out, letting other people have all of the fun in the creativity of making your meal. Or maybe you’ve been depriving yourself, looking at food as the enemy, counting calories and not receiving the benefit of composing and enjoying it. I encourage you to reflect on this. What is your relationship with food? Would it be better if you appreciated it more? Or if you took the time to nurture your creative side and explore food as your new “art” form? You may find it will do your soul a world of good to gain a new perspective.