Cool as a cucumber: A filling, low-calorie snack

Cucumbers are another healthy vegetable option that is easy to prepare and transport.

As the garden season comes to a close and plans are made for next year’s garden, many may include cucumbers on their list of seeds to order over the winter. As the fourth most widely grown vegetable in the world, cucumbers often don’t receive the attention or fanfare some of the other vegetables may command.

Cucumbers are 90 percent water and can be refreshing on a hot day or after a strenuous workout because the internal temperature of the vegetable is typically 20 degrees cooler than the temperature of the air surrounding it; hence the saying, “Cool as a cucumber.”

This low-calorie vegetable can satisfy the eating urge and be a filling snack or side dish. When selecting cucumbers look for cucumbers that are dark green in appearance and do not appear shriveled or wilting.

Keeping the peel on is important since it contains most of the vegetable’s nutrient properties. As a source of vitamin K, cucumbers can be eaten raw in salads, sandwiches, as a stand-alone vegetable or in their transformed pickle state. Cucumbers do host a small amount of important phytonutrients that provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a 2,000 calorie diet, a 1/2 cup of chopped cucumbers with the skin on provides two percent of the recommended daily values of vitamin A and C. In a 1/2 cup serving, cucumbers have 10-calories and contain no fat, no cholesterol and no sodium, unless added.

Although they have seeds, cucumbers are considered part of the vegetable group. Depending on a person’s age and gender, a recommended daily serving of vegetables is between 1 and 3 cups a day. Visiting the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate table will provide the specific daily recommendations for children and adults. One cup (sliced or chopped) of cucumbers counts as a serving.

For a fun way to create a healthy fast snack for kids, consider cucumbers and a 15 minute pickle. Additional healthy recipes for cucumbers can be found at the USDA recipe finder.

The USDA ChooseMyPlate campaign encourages us to make sure that half of our plates are made up of fruits and vegetables all while choosing a variety of vegetables. Tips on how to do that can be found at this link. For more interesting tips on growing cucumbers or additional recipes visit this link.