My favourite and most used ingredients – cucumber
I am going to share one of my favourite and most used ingredients and tell you why I think they have contributed to my health and well being despite having type 1 diabetes for over 50 years. I don’t think there is one particular ingredient, rather a combination of different ones that work together to keep all parts of the body functioning well.
Cucumbers gets very little attention on the food front but they are a favourite of mine. Not because of their taste or flavour but because they are one of the few foods that I can eat that don’t impact my blood sugar. I am no expert but I believe they are beneficial for the following reasons but remember you will get little benefit from eating the one slice of cucumber served as a garnish.
- Cucumber’s high water content makes it good for hydration. They contain approximately 96% water.
- *Per 100 grammes, cucumber contains approximately 1g of carbohydrate, 1g of protein and 1g of fibre, making it an ideal snack or addition to any meal, with little or no impact on blood sugar. Most of the fibre is in the skin.
- They contain vitamin K, potassium and magnesium which help with blood clotting and blood pressure. People with diabetes are particularly at risk from the affects of high blood pressure. Eating cucumber alone is unlikely to keep your blood pressure down but it may help in conjunction with other foods, exercise and keeping your blood sugar in target as much as possible.
- It contains silica which is good for skin, hair and nails. Why is skin health important for someone with diabetes? Obviously keeping skin healthy will aid healing which may be compromised due to diabetes, but we sometimes forget that our skin is an important part of our immune system. Very few bugs can penetrate healthy, uninjured skin. We need healthy skin to protect our internal organs from injuries and infection.
- Cucumber contains some vitamin C and caffeic acid which help to reduce inflamed or red skin. Many cooling after sun products contain cucumber. Its good for inside and out!
Cool as a cucumber!
The only preparation they need is a rinse, top, tail and they are ready for slicing or cutting into chunks. I prefer not to peel them unless adding to a dip because the skin contains fibre. For decorative purposes a small score using a vegetable peeling knife is pretty.
How I use cucumbers:
As a snack if I am hungry while I am preparing dinner.
The usual way; with every type of salad served in my house.
Cut into strips and served with hummus. https://theartisandiabetic.ie/recipe/best-hummus-recipe/
Sliced in water with lemon, lime or mint. I drink a lot of water and plain water can get a bit boring. Adding sliced cucumber on its own or with lemon, lime or makes it into a very refreshing drink.
I eat cucumber on it’s own or with some cheese if my blood sugar is high and I don’t want to eat any carbohydrate food until it reduces.
If I want to eat low carb for a busy day so that my blood sugar won’t change much I eat salad including lettuce, cucumber, egg, peppers, olives and whatever herbs I have to hand, with a little olive oil/lemon dressing.
I love a cooling raita with a hot curry. I use natural yoghurt, peeled and finely chopped cucumber, chopped mint, lemon or lime juice. Roasted cumin seeds, a little chopped chilli can be added if using the raita with non spicy foods. This is the only time I peel cucumber.
Cucumber is a replacement for crackers on a cheese board. Maybe not replacing every cracker but some!
Smoked salmon swirled on top of sliced cucumber makes a very pretty starter or finger food for your guests.
In winter I often add cucumber to an omelette or add it last in a stir fry.
Is everything I eat healthy? No! Possibly 80% is ‘my version of healthy’.
Join me tomorrow for my chat about my next staple ingredient.
*Nutritional information from Carbs and Cals software.