What to do with a cucumber! …. A smoothie with banana, peanut butter and maple syrup

Cucumbers are this kind of vegetable that I find boring. Mostly because I have learnt (when I was living in France) to make one major recipe with them, cucumber salad… cucumber salad… mixed salad with cucumber for a change.

To say the truth, I also enjoy cucumber in sandwich: French baguette, brie, cucumber and sunflower sprouts. Yummy but this is only a few slices of cucumber… not really enough.

As I try to diversify my diet, each time I go to the market or the small “fruits and vegetables” shop near my apartment, I can’t resist the temptation. And each time, 2 to 3 cucumbers are irremediably dropping into my shopping basket. This happens not only because they are cheap but also because I love their freshness.

And to be honest, I am also aware that cucumber is good for your health!

I know, I know we are focusing on the rainbow colors for fruits and vegetables, a real obsession because we have learnt that more colourful are the veggies and fruits, better this is for your health.

But one of the general rules in nutrition and health sciences that I have learnt in my previous life (when I was a nutrition scientist) is the fact that nothing is everlasting. And as a result, I was not surprise when we have rediscovered a few years ago that white vegetables are also good for our health.

White is now part of the “rainbow colours” good for your health, and cucumber is one of the good white veggies.

Let’s review why cucumber is good for your health…

Despite the fact that cucumbers are made up of mostly (95 %) water, they are rich in vitamin K (21 % of daily intake per 100 grams), B vitamins (~10%), copper (2%), potassium (4%), vitamin C (5%), and manganese (4%). In addition, they contain unique polyphenols and other compounds that may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases and much, much more.

Then …

Cucumber can flush out toxins. All that water in cucumber acts as a virtual broom, sweeping waste products out of your system. With regular use, cucumber is known to dissolve kidney stones.

Cucumber can protect your brain because of its anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin content that appears to play an important role in brain health by improving your memory and protecting your nerve cells from age-related decline.

It will reduce your risk of cancer because it contains polyphenols called lignans that may help to lower your risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers. It also contains phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which also have anti-cancer properties.

It fights Inflammation by “cooling” the inflammatory response in your body, in part by inhibiting the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes.

Cucumbers have antioxidant properties because they contain numerous antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene as well as flavonoids that provide additional benefits like “natural antihistamine ” & anticancer properties and that can also lower your risk of chronic diseases including heart disease.

It can help to manage stress because it contains multiple B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B7 (biotin). B vitamins are known to help ease feelings of anxiety and buffer some of the damaging effects of stress.

Cucumber can support your digestive health because it is rich in two of the most basic elements needed for healthy digestion: water and fiber.Cucumber skins contain insoluble fiber, which helps add bulk to your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination.

It can support heart health because of its contain in potassium, which is associated with lower blood pressure levels.

Cucumbers can help with diabetes and cholesterol. It contains a hormone which is needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin which has been found to be beneficial to diabetic patients. It also contains sterols that may help reduce bad cholesterol levels.

It can promote joint health, relieves gout and arthritis pain. Cucumber is an excellent source of silica, which is known to help promotes joint health by strengthening the connective tissues.

Who have thought that this watery fruit (yes, this is a fruit) is a super food!

One thing I have learnt over the past two years is the fact that cucumbers make a great base for vegetable juice as well as smoothie because of its mild flavor and high water content. And this is how I really enjoy my 3 cucumbers in a weekly basis.

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

 

Servings: 4          Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

2 to 3 bananas cut into chunks

1 cucumber sliced

2 tablespoons of all-natural peanut butter

1 to 2 tablespoons of organic maple syrup

1 cup of 2% milk (or almond milk as an alternative)

If you want to increase your protein intake, you can add 1 to 2 scoops of rice or egg protein

6 ice cubes

Preparation

Put all ingredients into a blender in the order listed and blend until smooth.

Blending times may vary depending on the type of blender you own. If you have a Vitamix blender, start the blender off on variable 1 and quickly increase to variable 10, then to high.  Let blend for about 20-30 seconds on high.

I love the combination banana, peanut butter and maple syrup, which is softened by the freshness of the cucumber. It is really refreshing!

I drink some for breakfast and I keep one glass for later in the day as a snack – easy to carry in a thermos, easy to drink when you are in the go.

I keep the leftover (if any) in the fridge for 24 hours maximum.

Bonne Appetite!

French Rhubarb Custard Pie with a Canadian Twist

This is my second recipe with rhubarb and one of my favorite dessert: fruit pie. I really love the combination of tart rhubarb with the creamy and sweet taste of custard.

A lot of calorie for sure … made with good quality products for a maximum of nutritional value. This is a sweet indulgence that you don’t eat everyday. This is a dessert that you share with the people you love…

Why rhubarb is so interesting!

You may know that the stalks are the only things eaten, because the triangular leaves are extremely high in oxalic acid, which can cause severe illness in people.

No surprise, rhubarb is low in calories (21 calories per 100 grams) but it holds some vital phyto-nutrients such as dietary fiber, poly-phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

Rhubarb contains antioxidants like lycopene and anthocyanins, helping to fight off disease

It apparently can help lower cholesterol, boosting your heart health

Rhubarb stalks are a good source of fibre, benefiting your digestive health.

It contains vitamin K (37% daily value per 100 grams), an essential property that helps with blood clotting, limiting neuronal damage in the brain, protecting the bones and help fighting off liver and prostate cancer.

Rhubarb is also a good source of vitamin C (great for a healthy immune system), vitamin A (the red rhubarb), calcium, potassium manganese and magnesium.

And do you know that like many fruits, rhubarb is best eaten with a fat to help absorption of carotenoids and vitamin K.

I think it is time to cook, this is the recipe:

Recipe for 6 to 8 servings

Preparation: 30 min

Cooking: 50 min to 1 hour

1 – Pie crust recipe

This is my grandmother Lucie pie crust recipe, already published in my first blog.

Ingredients

250 g (2 cups) flour

125 g (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) of butter, cubed and very cold

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

100 ml (less than 1/2 cup) very cold water, plus more is needed

Directions

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture, and cut it using a pastry cutter (rubbing it in with your fingertips also works in a pinch). Keep working the butter into the dough until in coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

Scrape off any residual butter-flour mixture from the pastry cutter, and drizzle in the water.

Gently work the water into the dough with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until it becomes a shaggy but relatively cohesive mass. Give the dough a few kneads with your hands (fewer than 10) so that it forms a rough ball.

Try to work these steps (after adding the cold water) as fast as you can. This is one of the secrets for a flaky and soft crust.

Wrap the ball in plastic wrap, and chill for at minimum 30 minutes or overnight. This allows the water to fully hydrate the dough, making for a more cohesive product that’s easier to roll out.

2- The rhubarb custard pie

Ingredients

200 g (~ 2/3 cup) “crème fraiche” (sour cream works also)

90 g (~1/2 cup) sugar + 90 ml maple syrup

Vanilla extract (facultative)

3 eggs

500 g rhubarb (3 to 5 sticks)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. On a well-floured surface, roll dough into a 9″ circle. Press into pie pan, and prick the bottom of your crust gently with a fork. Reserve in the freezer (facultative).

Wash and dry rhubarb. Peel the skin if very tough. Cut the stalks into about 1/3 inch pieces.

In a medium bowl, toss rhubarb with 40 grams of the sugar. Let sit until fruit has released its juices, about 15 min (until 1 hour). Strain, reserve juice.

To make custard, beat eggs with cream, vanilla extract, maple syrup and remaining sugar. Stir in rhubarb juice.

Scatter rhubarb in crust and pour in custard.

Bake until custard is set but loose, about 50 to 60 minutes. Do not over bake.