The cucumbers are in at the local farm markets! Cucumbers are the fourth most widely cultivated produce in the world, after tomatoes, cabbage and onions. Cucumbers are enjoyed worldwide and show up in an amazing variety of cuisines, and they are showing up right now at area farm markets.
Cucumbers are a fruit, and belong to the same botanical family as melons and squashes; they contain many healthy phytonutrients which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits. Cucumbers are a wonderful source of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese, and have been found to reduce inflammation by inhibiting the activity of inflammatory COX-2 enzymes – similar to the mechanism by which ibuprofen acts to reduce inflammation.
The phytonutrients known as lignans in particular have been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer, including breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Scientists have determined that several of the signaling pathways required for cancer cell development can be blocked by the activity of cucurbitacins in cucumbers.
Cucumbers are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory vitamin K, the free radical-scavenging vitamin C, heart-healthy potassium and magnesium, and manganese for building bones.
Cucumbers should be firm, rounded at the edges, plump and have a bright color. You can find local cucumbers at most all the area farm markets now!
Here is a quick and tangy recipe for a cucumber and shrimp salad to get you started. This recipe serves two, and will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days. You can eat it straight from a bowl or put it on croissants for wonderful summer sandwiches! You can certainly leave out the shrimp for a nice vegan salad.
Shrimp and cucumber salad
- 1/2# pound medium shrimp, cleaned, cooked, and cut in half
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- Salt and pepper as desired
Cool the cooked shrimp in refrigerator.
Put the mint and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse to coarsely chop the mint. Drizzle the olive oil into processor while pureeing until the mint is finely chopped.
Toss everything together in a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Ta da!
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