Allow this wonderful fruit to help you get through this exceedingly hot summer
The Cucumus sativus commonly known as the cucumber is indeed a fruit and not a vegetable. The cucumber belongs to the melon and squash family along with pumpkin and zucchini. Unlike lettuce, which also contains a lot of water but negligible nutritional value, this cylindrical fruit carries with it numerous health benefits. Here are just some of cucumber’s nutritive properties.
- Simple detox: It flushes out toxins in the body. The kidneys work better with the addition of the cucumber.
- Essential vitamins: Cucumber is rich in vitamin A, B and C. These help in building one’s immunity, gives energy and gives one’s complexion a glow.
- High water content: Owing to the fact that cucumber is about 96% water, it helps keep you cool and counters dehydration, especially in the summer months.
- Internal body benefits: On the inside, the cooling effect of the fruit helps relieve one from heartburn.
- External body benefits: On the outside, it works as a refreshing skin vitalizer and treats sunburn and itchy skin. Slices of cucumber can be placed on one’s eyelids to treat puffy eyes.
- Mineral content: Cucumber contains minerals like magnesium, potassium, silica and so on. Silica is vital to the health and growth of nails and hair.
- Healthy and fat-free snack: Cucumber is a healthier option to chips as a snack and is often eaten with a dip. It is one common component in crudités along with carrot and spring onion.
- Helps control diabetes: There is a certain hormone in the fruit that helps the pancreas produce insulin which is beneficial to those suffering from diabetes.
- Combats cancer and other ailments: The vitamins and minerals in the cucumber help reduce joint pain, cholesterol and fighting cancers.
There are numerous ways you can add this water filled fruit to your diet. Here are some easy recipes to ensure the benefits all the while being scrummy:
- Cucumber, Melon and Mint Cooler
- Melon – 1 kg
- Mint leaves – ¾ cup
- English cucumber – peeled, (chop ½ and slice half)
- Lime juice – ¾ cup
- Splash of vodka (optional)
- Lime slices to garnish
- In a juicer or mixer, puree the chopped melon, cucumber and mint till you can no longer see chunks.
- Use a sieve to strain the puree to ensure that only the liquid comes out into a pitcher or punch bowl.
- Pour in the lime juice and add the sliced cucumber. Chill for at least one hour before serving.
- Either in a glass or pitcher, add ice cubes, vodka (if using) and the lime slices just before serving.
- Kidney Beans Salad with Lime Dressing
- Kidney beans – I cup, soaked (for 8 hours or overnight) and cooked
- Bell peppers – 2, chopped
- Tomatoes – 1/2 cup, chopped
- Cucumber – 1 medium sized, chopped
- Black olives – ½ cup, halved
- Onion – 1 medium, chopped
- Fresh basil – A handful
For the dressing
- Olive oil – ¼ cup
- Lime juice – ¼ cup
- Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
- Salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste
- Combine all the ingredients except the ones for the dressing in a large bowl.
- For the lemon dressing, whisk the remaining ingredients till it comes together.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss the vegetables, etc to cover the salad evenly.
- The dressing can be kept aside in the fridge till ready for use.
- Quick and Easy Tzatziki
- Cucumber – 1 medium sized, halved
- Yoghurt – 500 grams thick or Greek
- Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
- Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
- Mint – ¼ cup, chopped
- Lime – 1
- Using a spoon, remove the seeds with a spoon. The seeds hold majority of the water.
- Grate the cucumber into a sieve that is placed on top of a bowl.
- Add a teaspoon of salt to the cucumber and let it drain in the fridge overnight.
- Drain the leftover liquid from the cucumber by pressing it with a spoon while in the sieve. Lay the grated cucumber on a kitchen towel to drain completely.
- Add minced garlic to the olive oil.
- To the oil, mix the yoghurt and cucumber and stir till well combined.
- Fold the chopped mint leaves into the dip.
- Squeeze some lime onto the mix.
- Keep refrigerated.
- Serve with crackers, crudités, salads, meat and pita bread.
- Cucumber, Mint and Basil Sorbet
- Basil leaves – 5
- Lime juice – ¼ cup
- Lime zest – 2 tablespoons
- Cucumbers – 2 medium, peeled and chopped
- Sugar – ½ cup
- Water – 1 cup
- For the syrup, boil ½ cup water and the sugar till the sugar has melted and there are no more sugar crystals. Set aside.
- Put the cucumber in a food processor or juicer. Add the basil, lime juice and zest and ½ cup water and puree until smooth.
- Mix the syrup with puree.
- Freeze the mixture for half an hour.
- Place the mixture into a blender and blend till ice crystals are finer.
- Freeze till ready to serve.
- If you want a finer texture, repeat the blending process a second time after another 25 minutes.
- Take the sorbet out of the freezer 5 minutes before consumption.
- Garnish with basil leaves and lime zest.
Gazpacho with a Twist:
Another quick fix would be adding cucumber and lime juice to the tomato-ridden soup known to us as gazpacho. This twist adds another dimension to this cool refreshing soup.
The cucumber can be a life saver this summer. Add it your diet and stay refreshed.