Fresh Friday - Cucumbers

Happy Friday!  I hope you had a great week, mine went by so fast, I can't believe it is the weekend!  August is definitely one of my favorite months.  I love summer.  I also love fresh produce, and this is when it is at it's peak!  I find it so much easier to eat vegetables in the summer!  One of my favorite summer vegetables are cucumbers.  They are so light and refreshing, perfect for a hot day.  Here are some tips for selection, storage and preparation.  Have a great day!

Description: Slicing cucumbers usually have smooth skins and are long, round cylinders with a sweet flavor. Long, slender English cucumbers (also called Dutch or Japanese) have thin skins and contain few seeds. Pickling cucumbers are best used for making sweet or dill pickles.

Selection: Select firm, crisp cucumbers with no blemishes or yellowing. Ones that feel heavy for their size are likely to be crisper. Small cucumbers generally have fewer seeds.

Storage and handling: Store in the refrigerator in a loosely sealed plastic bag for up to a week. Before eating, wash in cold water.

Preparation: Remove tough or waxed skin with a vegetable peeler.  You can also leave the skin on for fiber benefits.  Remove large seeds by slicing the cucumber in half lengthwise, then scraping seeds out with a spoon. Salting cut cucumbers and letting them sit in a colander for about an hour will remove some of their water, which will keep them from diluting salad dressing. Dry them thoroughly before tossing with a dressing.

Serving suggestions: Not usually eaten cooked. Eat cucumbers plain or with a light sprinkling of salt/Mrs. Dash or a flavorful dip.  Try hummus! Slice and chop for use in tossed salads. For cucumber salad, slice and dress with a simple vinaigrette (Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette is awesome!) or yogurt based dressing.  Used on sandwiches, in wraps, on burgers, or in stir fry.  How else do you use cucumbers?

Nutrition: Super low in calories - one cup sliced only has 12 calories!  Vitamin A, C, and K, Folic Acid, Fiber, Magnesium, and Potassium.  

**Also of note, cucumbers contain ascorbic and caffeic acids which prevent against water retention, which may be why they are effective in reducing swelling around the eyes and also burns.**

 Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading!  If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right.  Also, we would love to have you join us!  Join this site in the "followers" box to the right.  "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd), tumblr, and pinterest using the the boxes on the right.  Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

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