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Nourishments-Calling All Celery Sticks



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Calling All Celery Sticks

By Nancy K. Crevier

January brings the snow and cold (usually…), and resolutions to budge the spare tire that wedged itself around the middle of the waistline over the holidays. Alas, the only way to do so is to decrease the number of calories consumed and increase energy output.

For the wrist that has been actively engaged in hand to mouth activity for the past two months, finding a better way for it to spend its time is on the agenda. That means either handcuffs — not an option for everyone — or finding a low calorie snack to replace the fistfuls of goodies. Celery fits the bill.

One cup of diced, raw celery contains only 17 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, and only 2.2 grams of natural sugar. It is a great source of potassium, with 312 mg in every cup and also a good source of fiber. Each cup of celery contains 11 percent of the daily need for vitamin A and six percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C, plus miniscule amounts of many other vitamins and minerals.

While celery is generally thought of as a rather dull addition to the vegetable tray, a flavoring for soup, or a nutritious children’s snack, it was once touted as a medicinal herb. First cultivated in gardens in 16th Century Italy, and known then as “smallage,” celery was used as a treatment for colds, flu, water retention, poor digestion, arthritis and liver ailments.

It was not until the 17th Century that records of celery used as food by the French appeared, mainly as a flavoring agent, but occasionally as a salad. Four cultivated varieties of celery in the United States were found by the early 1800s, although it is not known exactly when it arrived in the colonies.

Early types of celery were strong in flavor and gardeners practiced “blanching,” or covering the stems with soil, to diminish the pungent flavor. Appropriately enough, the Latin name for celery, Apium graveolens, comes from the Latin “grave” meaning grave or heavy, and “olens,” smelling.

Milder versions were developed over the years, resulting in the green Pascal celery that is most commonly found today in supermarkets. It would be difficult to believe that today’s celery could be offensive to anyone.

Celeriac, or celery root, is the knobby root of another variety of celery, and like celery is low in calories, high in fiber and a source of many trace vitamins and minerals. Celery root, however, is not eaten raw. It is a delicious addition to soups, stews, and mashed vegetables.

Seeking alternatives to the high fat, creamy foods of the holidays is the answer to rolling back the rolls of fat. Celery just might help.

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