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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Axing Anxiety with Celery

According to the New York Times, "Celery contains phytochemicals called phthalides, which some studies have shown reduce stress hormones and work to relax the muscle walls in arteries, increasing blood flow. As a result, it has long been used in Chinese medicine to help control high blood pressure. Celery is an excellent source of vitamins K and C, and a very good source of potassium, folate, dietary fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and vitamin B6."

Unfortunately, most people don't know there exist a wide variety of delicious, nutritious and STRESS REDUCING celery recipes, so celery tends to go unused in the refrigerator after you buy a bunch for a soup or stew, or for that Thanksgiving stuffing recipe that calls for only one stalk."

So I've compiled some tips and easy to make recipes from a variety of sources because A Word to the Wise T.I. should be sufficient.

TIPS FOR USING CELERY: use the tough outter stalks in soups and stews and stuffing, and the more tender inner stalks (aka the celery heart) in salads.

According to the Vegan Coach, you can create your very own celery recipe with some of your favorite ingredients from the following list of foods that match perfectly with celery:

Almonds * Bread Crumbs * Butter, or non-dairy spread like Earth Balance * Carrots * Cream, or non-dairy Silk Soy Creamer * Curry * Dill * Fennel * Garlic * Green * Onions * Lemon * Onions * Mayonnaise * Mushrooms * Mustard * Nutmeg * Onion * Parsley * Peanut Butter, or other nut butter * Pimento * Tomato * Vinegar * Walnuts *
Water Chestnuts

And here are some mouth watering recipes guaranteed to melt the stress away, while delighting the taste buds.

3 stalks of celery
3 apples
1 stem broccoli (optional)
1/2 lemon (optional)

Wash the fruit and vegetables using water and a stiff vegetable brush. Keep the leaves on the celery.
Core the apples.

Cut the peel off the lemon - some people like to leave this on but I find this makes the juice too bitter.

Slice the fruit and vegetables to fit your juicer.
Juice and enjoy.

2 peeled lemons
1 handful of tender celery leaves
1/2 cup raw sugar

Juice the celery leaves, then the lemons. Stir in sugar, add water to make 1 quart. Serve with ice cubes. - (HarvestEssentials)

Yield: 4 side dishes, or 2 main dishes

1/2 pound white button or cremini mushrooms, very thinly sliced
4 celery stalks, from the heart of the celery, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced chives
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces shaved Parmesan

Toss together the mushrooms, celery, parsley, and chives, and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the lemon juice (or lemon juice and vinegar) and olive oil, and toss with the vegetables. Just before serving, toss again with the Parmesan.

Yield: 3 side soup servings, or 1 1/2 main dinner servings

1 medium onion
1 medium russet potato
2 small to medium size carrots
5 medium-length celery stalks (save the leafy tops for the drizzle topping recipe below)
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1 garlic clove, chopped
2 1/2 cups of lightly-flavored, great tasting, vegetable or chicken broth (or water)
1 cup cooked wild rice, brown rice, barley, or wheat berries
Optional: celery leaf pesto (recipe below)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional)

Chop the onion, potato, carrots, and celery into pieces that are about 1/2-inch or smaller, cutting everything roughly the same size to keep cooking time uniform for all ingredients.

In a large thick-bottomed soup pot over medium high heat combine the olive oil, onion, potato, carrots, celery and a few big pinches of salt. Saute for about ten minutes or until the onions and celery soften a touch and expel some water. Stir in the garlic and add the stock. Bring to a simmer and let cook for another 10 minutes or until the celery, carrot and potatoes are just cooked through - resist the urge to over cook them into mush. Stir in the rice a few minutes before the potatoes and carrot are cooked though. Remove the soup from the heat and ladle into soup bowls. Top each with a generous drizzle of the celery leaf pesto (opt) and/or some Parmesan cheese.

* 1/2 cup (lightly packed) celery leaves, minced
* 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
* 1/8 teaspoon of salt
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

If you have a food processor, puree ingredients for about 30 seconds.

If you do not have a food processor, grind, mash and blend ingredients in a motor and pistal until well blended.

Celery and Apple Soup
Yield: 3 side servings, or 1 1/2 main course servings

1/8 cup (1/4 stick) butter
2 cups peeled celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken or vegetarian broth
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup oil
Pinch of salt

Top with one of the following: 3 ounces crumbled crispy thinly sliced bacon or pancetta, or grated Parmisan cheese.

Curried Celery and Apple Soup

Yield: 2 servings
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1/2 Onion. diced
3 Celery stalks, chopped
Leaves from celery stalks, chopped
1 Carrot, peeled and diced
1 Potato, diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 Granny Smith Apple, diced
2 cups low sodium Vegetable or Chicken broth
2 teaspoon Curry Powder (use if you just want a hing of curry flavor, but not spicy)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper (optional)

Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in some vegetable oil for about 10. Add the potatoes, sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, the apple and the spices, continue to sauté for a few more minutes.

At this point add the broth, scrape the bottom of the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for another 10 minutes and then add the celery leaves and cook for another 5 minutes. Now blend the soup (or parts of it if you like chunks.) Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Yield: 4 if a side dish, 2 if the main entree

Celery leaves, chopped (or other salad greens)
4 ribs of celery, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts, optional (reduced from 3/4 cup)

Juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon good mustard (reduced from 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon honey (reduced from 2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon olive oil (reduced from 1/3 cup)
Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Arrange celery leaves or salad greens on plates. Add the celery and apple. Drizzle with the dressing. Top with toasted walnuts.