Jul 31 2012

Good to Grow – Celery

By Nicole Martinez – Guest Blogger & Student of Nutrition & Dietetics at Western Carolina University

There are some foods I do not eat. Not because I don’t like them or my grocery store does not carry them, but because they contain high levels of pesticide residue. You may have heard of the “dirty dozen” list – the 12 fruits and vegetables containing the highest amounts of pesticide residue. I typically avoid eating these foods unless I spend the extra money and buy organic. Sometimes, however, organic is just too expensive and I choose to go without. Such is the case with celery. Organically farmed celery can cost close to $5.00 a bunch! Good to Grow – Celery
By Nicole Martinez – Guest Blogger & Student of Nutrition & Dietetics at Western Carolina University

There are some foods I do not eat. Not because I don’t like them or my grocery store does not carry them, but because they contain high levels of pesticide residue. You may have heard of the “dirty dozen” list – the 12 fruits and vegetables containing the highest amounts of pesticide residue. I typically avoid eating these foods unless I spend the extra money and buy organic. Sometimes, however, organic is just too expensive and I choose to go without. Such is the case with celery. Organically farmed celery can cost close to $5.00 a bunch!

Celery has been a culinary mainstay since the 16th century and was first used medicinally in the 9th century. Because of its aromatic nature it is used as a flavoring agent for soups, stews and sauces, and is a key ingredient in mirepoix (meer-pwah). It is low in calories and a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin K. Its botanical cousins include carrots, fennel and parsley and while most people normally eat only the stalks the delicate leaves are also delicious and flavorful.

This summer instead of doing without celery, I decided to grow my own. I started with seeds, but they were challenging to transplant and eventually died in my garden. I then purchased well-established seedlings from a local garden center and they did just fine. Since celery’s roots are close to the surface I kept the soil moist and well fertilized, and after about 70 days I was able to begin harvesting the outer stalks. My celery is so much more flavorful than store bought and its color is much more vibrant. I will grow celery again and enjoy its unique flavor in many of my meals.

Tofu & Celery Stir-Fry with Thai Basil – serves 2
This recipe also takes advantage of the tomatoes, basil & garlic growing in my garden!

Ingredients:
1 block of extra-firm tofu (drained & cubed)
Click here to learn how to drain tofu.
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
5 stalks of celery with leaves (chopped)
1 handful of cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 handful thai (or sweet) basil
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions:
Gently heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Add the celery and crushed red pepper and cook for a few minutes until fragrant and the celery softens a bit.

Transfer the celery and garlic to a plate and return the pan to the stove. Put the tofu in the pan and cook until it is brown on all sides.

When tofu is brown add the celery and garlic back to the pan and gently stir in the basil, salt and black pepper. Heat for about one minute and transfer to a plate or bowl and add the halved cherry tomatoes.

Brown rice and a simple salad are nice additions to make this a complete meal.

Celery has been a culinary mainstay since the 16th century and was first used medicinally in the 9th century. Because of its aromatic nature it is used as a flavoring agent for soups, stews and sauces, and is a key ingredient in mirepoix (meer-pwah). It is low in calories and a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin K. Its botanical cousins include carrots, fennel and parsley and while most people normally eat only the stalks the delicate leaves are also delicious and flavorful.

This summer instead of doing without celery, I decided to grow my own. I started with seeds, but they were challenging to transplant and eventually died in my garden. I then purchased well-established seedlings from a local garden center and they did just fine. Since celery’s roots are close to the surface I kept the soil moist and well fertilized, and after about 70 days I was able to begin harvesting the outer stalks. My celery is so much more flavorful than store bought and its color is much more vibrant. I will grow celery again and enjoy its unique flavor in many of my meals.

Tofu & Celery Stir-Fry with Thai Basil – serves 2
This recipe also takes advantage of the tomatoes, basil & garlic growing in my garden!

Ingredients:
1 block of extra-firm tofu (drained & cubed)
Click here to learn how to drain tofu.
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
5 stalks of celery with leaves (chopped)
1 handful of cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 handful thai (or sweet) basil
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions:
Gently heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Add the celery and crushed red pepper and cook for a few minutes until fragrant and the celery softens a bit.

Transfer the celery and garlic to a plate and return the pan to the stove. Put the tofu in the pan and cook until it is brown on all sides.

When tofu is brown add the celery and garlic back to the pan and gently stir in the basil, salt and black pepper. Heat for about one minute and transfer to a plate or bowl and add the halved cherry tomatoes.

Brown rice and a simple salad are nice additions to make this a complete meal.

For a pocket guide that includes the Dirty Dozesn take a look at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

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