cool as a cucumber
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
Summer is a time of potential…
In the spring the seeds emerge and when summer arrives, their fruits are here—in full bloom!
I find this season to be a time to enjoy the plethora of produce (figs and berries in my backyard and such a wide bounty of fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market), to rejoice in the fruition of my own ideas, and to bask in the warmth of easy conversation and friendly connection.
Like the juicy crops emerging from the earth, summer is when it all comes together for me—when everything I’ve been ruminating on for the months prior takes new shape.
Fresh associations are made. Intention blossoms.
The intention I’m setting for my summer cleansing journey next week, is to digest and absorb all that ripe nourishment. It’s the peaceful, purposeful and pleasurable grace that my body, mind and spirit merit this time of year.
Won’t you join me?
After all, it’s also the season of joy and laughter. Together we’ll be sure to do some of that as well during our Summer Cleanse!
‘Tis the season…The season to refresh yourself with a deep and delicious cleanse that will enhance your well-being and vitality, support your mental health and emotions, and enable you to absorb what you want and release what you don’t—in your body, your mind and your spirit!
You may have heard the term “leaky gut”…
Or you may experience the symptoms—belly discomfort, IBS, allergies, eczema, asthma, brain fog or depression and anxiety. You don’t need to tolerate those symptoms but you should heed their warning.
Empower yourself and enliven your body with this season’s functional nutrition, truly food based cleanse. It’s designed to bring you both deep healing and satisfaction.
The truth is that every single one of us can benefit from the opportunity to do a little gut healing and boost our immunity and overall health for the seasons to come.
Cool as a Cucumber
Staying ‘cool as a cucumber’ has to do with staying hydrated through these hot summer months. (And boy is it hot here in PDX!). The flesh of the cuke is mostly comprised of water (over 90%!). It also has the ability to keep its flesh slightly cooler than the outside temperature staying cool itself. And yet the cucumber also packs an impressive store of minerals and vitamins.
When it comes to high water content, cucumbers are not surprisingly related to the watermelon. They’re also part of the same family as the zucchini, pumpkin and other squashes. Cucumbers and cucumber juices are truly traditional delicacies. They’ve been keeping people cool for thousands of years.
The Health Benefits of Cucumbers:
- The watery flesh of the cucumber provides vitamin C, carotenoids and folic acid.
- By contrast, the fibrous skin contains silica, potassium and magnesium.
- The silica contained in the skin of the cuke makes it great for supporting our connective tissue (our muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments), and our skin.
- Used topically, the ascorbic acid and caffeic acid help to relieve water retention, which is why cucumbers are used for swelling under the eyes (I love this usage), burns and other skin irritations.
- Because of its high water content, cucumbers are perfect not only for cooling you down, but can also be used as a diuretic, to help support the kidneys, and to relieve edema.
- Cucumbers also act as an alterative. This is the term for a cleansing and purifying food that helps to alter the blood and restore the function of the excretory organs.
- The cuke contains a digestive enzyme called erepsin. Erepsin helps to break down proteins and supports intestinal health. For this reason we love using cucumber and cucumber juice in the Summer Cleanse!
- The Organic Factor: Cucumbers are readily sprayed to prevent the prevalence of the cucumber beetles that carry fungal and bacterial wilts to the plant. Conventional cukes are also often waxed to protect them from bruising during shipping. Bottom line: Buy organic cucumbers.
Uses for Cukes:
The many ways to keep your cool…
- Cucumbers can be pureed with tomatoes, onions and herbs for a quick summer gazpacho.
- Cooling cucumbers can be chopped and added to any salad, including a salmon, tuna or chicken salad.
- Cube them and mix them with mint, snap peas and vinegar for a delightful summer side salad.
- Mix cubed cukes with dill and yogurt for a refreshing tzatziki.
- Combine with tomatoes, olives, onions, oregano and olive oil for a lovely Greek salad.
- We like to slice them and sprinkle them with sea salt. That’s it!
- Don’t forget that juiced cucumbers are great for your digestive organs and your most vibrant skin!
- And like I said, I like to stick them on my eyes in the morning, right out of the fridge. When was the last time you gave that a try?
And hey, if you’re looking for a snack that’s simple to make (but looks fancy)—cut up your cucumber, whirl up the topping, and give these cuke canapes a try.
double ginger cuke canape
These scrumptious little summer hors d’oeuvres are a perfect party dish or a midsummer night’s garden meal in themselves. They incorporate an adaptation of one of my favorite recipes, a Pacific Almond Rim Pate from Renee Loux Underkoffler’s book Living Cuisine. Topped with pickled ginger – a sweet little fermented delight to help boost your gut bacteria – they tantalize the tongue with the coolness of the cucumber and the fire of the spice.
makes approximately 2 cups pate
- 1 medium cucumber, roughly peeled & sliced thickly on a mandoline or medium-thin by hand
- 2 cup raw almonds, soaked approximately 6 hours
- 3 Tbspn minced fresh ginger
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos
- 2 large soft, pitted dates, or 1-1/2 TBSP yacon syrup, or 1 Tbspn raw honey
- pinch of sea salt or more to taste
- pickled ginger (recipe below)
- black pepper
Drain and rinse the soaked almonds. In a food processor, grind the almonds, ginger, green onions and garlic into a fine meal. Add the tamari and sweetener of choice and blend until soft. Place the cucumber slices on a plate. Top with a good sized scoop of pate. Be sure the cucumber slices are sturdy enough to hold the pate. If they’re on the thin side, use less pate! Top the pate with pickled ginger (recipe below) and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.
- 2 pounds fresh ginger
- 1-1/2 tspn sea salt
- 1/4 tspn probiotic powder
- 1/2 cup water
Peel and cut the ginger into very thin slices. (You may use a mandoline if you have one.) Pound the ginger slices to release their juices. Place the juices and the pounded ginger into a glass jar. Mix with salt and water. Add probiotic powder, seal, and store at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. After that, store in the refrigerator. The fermentation process will turn the fresh ginger slightly pink.
Head to your local farmer’s market (or perhaps your own garden) and grab a cuke or two. Drink up the bounty of summer by incorporating these green beauties in as many meals as you can.
And if you too would like to cleanse with intention and digest and absorb all that ripe nourishment, there’s still time to join me for the Summer Cleanse (our journey begins next Monday).
P.S. We have exciting news to share! We’re rebranding to the Functional Nutrition Alliance (FxNA) and want to tell you why. Click here to learn more about our rebrand
P.P.S. Are you ready for a targeted and supported summer cleanse? It’s time to dive in!
Functional Nutrition Alliance Summer Cleanse: Truly Food Ways to Nurture Your Intestinal Health
group cleanse: August 7th – 13th
cleanse duration: one week
- 90 minute class with teachings about cleansing, the body’s systems, and navigating the week and the protocol
- daily protocol for the entire week
- a variety of delicious recipes to choose from
- options for ease and intensity
- handouts to help guide you through the cleanse
- list of supplies to assist you with the protocol
- instructions for purchase of any recommended supplements
- daily, live support through our signature message board support
EXPERIENCE A FREE TRAINING SERIES WITH ANDREA NAKAYAMA TO HELP YOU
Begin practicing functionally today!
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