Celery has somewhat of a unique taste, so it is difficult to believe that it belongs to the same family as carrots and parsley! Parsley I can just about connect to with this pale, green, fibrous vegetable, as there is a certain similarity in the flavour. I know that some people don’t understand the hype surrounding celery, but it certainly tastes good and adds a depth of flavour to many dishes. Not only that, but it’s also pretty healthy.
Celery is comprised of 95 per cent water, and it is a perfect vegetable to use in casseroles, stews, soups etc. It is also useful to eat raw during hot summer months, or as an accompaniment to a delicious cheeseboard. Vitamins are also abound in celery, such as A, K and C, plus potassium, calcium and folate as the mineral content. It is a great vegetable for diabetics, as it is rated low on the glycaemic index. To add to all those benefits, it’s perfect as part of a calorie-controlled diet – only 6kcals per 80g (raw).
So what health benefits are there?
Celery has a good source of antioxidants, which has a protective effect on the cardiovascular system. It is also a useful aid to heart health, and for the production of red blood cells and the blood-clotting process.
Being a plentiful source of both soluble and insoluble fibre and anti-inflammatory properties, it could potentially support the digestive system and be a useful addition to the diet of those who fall foul to arthritis, joint pain etc. To be honest with you, I suffer flare ups of arthritis, and as I love celery and eat it in all ways, it appears to help lessen this problem.
Can everyone eat celery?
Now there’s a thing. Taking a look at what appears to be a fairly harmless, crunchy, thirst-quenching veggie, it is something that people can be sensitive or allergic to. Reactions can include an itchy mouth, tongue and throat, runny nose and possibly sneezing. If you think you have a cold coming on but have just eaten celery in the last few hours, think again. Reactions do tend to be on the mild side and not exactly life-threatening, just uncomfortable.
Does all celery taste the same?
Celery definitely tastes different from plant to plant. When buying celery be cautious – always buy a plant that has sturdy stalks, that are firm and upright (no flopping, its way past its best at that stage, although you can still use it in soups). Celery should snap easily when you try, but I wouldn’t suggest breaking all the celery stalks to test in the supermarket!
Leaves should be pale to brightish green, and make sure you cannot find any yellowing or brown patches on the plant. Once you unpack your shopping, celery should last between 5-7 days. Think about eating the leaves, they have a lovely peppery taste. If you are going to eat the leaves (I often chop mine through salad, as well as in casseroles), eat within 2 days as they do not store as well as the main stalks.
How to store celery
If you are going to use the refrigerator, keep the celery away from the back of the fridge – it is likely to go soft very quickly and may ice up. Do eat within the suggested time to enjoy all the nutritional benefits. Another tip is when you are going to use celery in a dish, chop it at the last minute, as even chopped a couple of hours before using will result in loss of valuable nutrition.
To recap, you can use celery in many ways – raw, steamed, baked (roasted), in soups, stews, casseroles. Also try it when you are making fresh juice or smoothies, or a vegetable stir fry.
Getting fussy kids to eat celery!
It’s a potential struggle to get kids to eat celery. However, there is one thing that I did that made my kids eat and enjoy it (other than hiding it in soup or similar!). They would help me make it, which was part of the fun, if not rather messy.
‘Ants on a Log’ was created by me around 40 years or so ago and is still going strong in this household (grandchildren now hooked on it). Dead simple, just cut the celery into pieces about 2 inches/5cm long, filled with their favourite cream cheese, and then sprinkle them with dried fruit, such as sultanas or apricots chopped up. It’s a hit around here anyway! You can also fill them with peanut butter as an alternative to the cream cheese. Give it a whirl!