Blooming Glen Farm | cucumbers
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cucumbers Tag

Tabbouleh Salad ingredientsTabbouleh (also tabouli) is a classic Middle Eastern salad made from whole grains and highlighted by the fresh herbs, cucumbers, and tomatoes that are in season right now. The whole grains in tabbouleh come from bulgur, which is made from whole hard wheat (wheat berries) that’s been parboiled, dried, and then cracked.

This whole wheat is very different than the wheat-based products we often buy at the grocery store:  When wheat is refined and processed — primarily into wheat flour — nearly all of its nutritional value is stripped away.  In fact, “more than half of wheat’s B vitamins, 90 percent of the vitamin E, and virtually all of the fiber” are lost.  When wheat is refined, its nutritious bran and germ are removed and we’re left only with a starch that’s digested as a simple sugar, causing our blood sugar levels to spike as if we’d eaten candy!

Healthy whole wheat like bulgur, on the other hand, is a complex carbohydrate that offers a unique combination of minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, all of which work in concert together to protect our cardiovascular health, prevent Type 2 Diabetes, promote digestive health, and help fight off cancer.  Once cooked, bulgur has a mild, nutty flavor that adds a fantastic chewy, meaty texture to foods. Mix it into a salad, stirfry, chili, spaghetti sauce, taco filling, or use it as a base for a grain salad (such as this Asian Bulgur and Edamame Salad), stuffed peppers, breakfast porridge, or savory side dish.

In addition to whole wheat, tabbouleh takes advantage of the cucumber bounty we’ve been enjoying with our share.  Cucumbers aren’t commonly thought of for their nutrition, but they actually are a good source of vitamin A, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese, and a very good source of potassium and vitamins C and K.  Thanks to the phytonutrients in cucumbers, they also bring our bodies anti-inflammatory, antioxident, and anti-cancer benefits, too.

The important key to accessing all this great stuff, however, is consuming the skin. (Some might remember that this is true for many of the vegetables we eat — we’ve talked about potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and eggplant here before 🙂 )  If you’re just getting used to eating the skin on cucumbers, try peeling only half of the skin off at first, then move up to keeping it all intact.

Tabbouleh a naturally versatile and adaptable dish, so feel free to play around with the grain-herb-veggie ratio.  You might prefer an herb-based salad, or you might choose to go heavy on the cucumbers, since they’re so abundant right now (as I did in the salad pictured). You could even make this recipe gluten-free by substituting bulgur for another healthy whole grain, such as quinoa. Tabbouleh pairs great with hummus, baba ganoush, and pita.

Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh

Ingredients
2 cups boiling water
1-1/4 cup bulgur wheat (use quinoa for a gluten-free version)
1 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup mint, chopped
1/4 cup minced onion
1+ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered or chopped
1+ cup cucumbers, diced

Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon, more to taste
1 tsp salt, more to taste
pinch of pepper
pinch allspice

Method
Place bulgur in a bowl and pour boiling water over top. Let stand for 20-30 minutes, until softened, but still chewy.  Drain off any excess liquid, and fluff. If using quinoa, prepare per package instructions. Add herbs and veggies to bulgur and gently stir. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Add dressing to bulgur, gently stirring until dressing coats salad well. Adjust seasonings to taste.  Serve chilled.

Post Sources
Harvard School of Public Health
Nutrition Data (Bulgur)
Nutrition Data (Cucumber)
WH Foods (Cucumber)

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Just as food effects our nutrition, it also effects our energy.  A classic example of this is how we feel after eating a fast food meal of a burger and fries, versus how we feel after eating a home-cooked meal of, say, baked fish and steamed veggies. Processed foods, high in unhealthy fats and carbs and low in nutrients, not only overwork our bodies, but also provide very little value, leaving us feeling heavy and tired.  They’re like the mooch of the food world — taking a lot of our bodies resources and giving nothing in return.

We can think also apply this food-mood connection to individual foods. Some foods warm us up; onion, ginger, oats.  Some foods ground us; carrots, meats, beets.  And, some foods are cooling, including several of the items in our Blooming Glen share over the past couple weeks.  Funny how mother nature makes available cooling foods right when we need them, right? 🙂

The recipe below uses two cooling ingredients, watermelon and cucumber.  We’ve talked about the nutrition of watermelon in the blog before. Both watermelon and cucumber have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making them a great addition to our bodies’ toolbox for fighting illness and disease.  Plus, as we all know, they taste great! Note, you can also easily substitute cantaloupe, another cooling and refreshing melon, for the watermelon in the recipe.

watermelon cucumber salad

Cooling Watermelon & Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

4 cups cubed watermelon (or cantaloupe)
1 cucumber, cut in half and sliced thin (leave skin on)
1/4 cup shallots or  sweet onion, minced
2 tbs fresh mint, minced (plus extra for garnish, if desired)
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar (or, try 2 tbs lime juice for a gluten-free version)
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: feta cheese

Method
Combine watermelon, cucumber and onion in a bowl. Combine mint, oil, vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add dressing to the watermelon mixture and toss gently to coat. Garnish with mint and/or feta cheese, if desired. Serve atop raw greens for extra nutrition and substance.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Don’t get me wrong, home-canning is probably one of the best ways to preserve excess fruits and veggies (not to mention rather necessary when you are trying to keep something in your cupboard through winter). However when it comes to pickles, it seems I always gobble them up within about a week of making them–rendering all that tedious canning effort a bit of a waste. I was simply amazed to discover a few years ago that you could make pickles in just a few hours with minimal effort and be eating them the next day. I actually prefer fermenting my pickles without vinegar…but sometimes your pickle craving just can’t wait! I wrestled up some recipes from Sherri Brooks Vinton’s book Put ’em Up! for two types of fridge pickles: bread-and-butter and classic dill.  They are prepared the same way except for the spices used at the end. The end product is very crunchy and both are just perfect for burgers or to eat right out of the jar!

Just start with some salt, 3 cucumbers, and a bunch of sweet onions from your share.

-Cut your cucumbers into 1/4 inch slices and your onions into rings. Place in large bowl.

-Prepare brine by dissolving 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt into two cups of water.

-Pour brine over cucumbers and onions. Add a few cups of ice cubes and more water to cover the veggies. Let the bowl sit in your fridge for 2 hours to get crunchy and absorb some of the brine.

-Drain veggies in colander and rinse.

For Bread-and-Butter Pickles, combine in a non-reactive saucepan:

2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorn
1 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For Classic Dill Pickles, combine in a non-reactive saucepan:

2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
4 green garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon dill seed
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

-Bring to a boil. Add the drained vegetables and return to a boil, stirring to ensure that all of the veggies are heated through. Remove from heat. Ladle into bowls or jars (this recipe makes a quart and a pints worth). Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to three weeks.

Recipe and photos by Jana Smart- Blooming Glen Farm employee and frequent creator of creative recipes using farm fresh seasonal ingredients. Check out more of her recipes on her food blog http://www.agrarianeats.blogspot.com/