Food & Fitness, Food Facts & Lore

Bugs, Health & Celery

March. St. Patrick’s Day. All things green, and for most of us that does not mean veggies. It means playfully green colored everything, from cupcake icing to mashed potatoes. Not to mention faces and hair too!

At the time of this writing, the Coronavirus is a fact of life around the globe, national sports events are being cancelled and everyone hopes to ere on the side of caution, and rightly so. Even the St. Paddy’s Day parade was cancelled. We’ll have to celebrate privately; just to keep the spirits up. Stock up on cake mix and green dye, ham and cabbage. Find your own reasons to feast. High spirits keep the immune system on its toes.

At the time of this writing, the 158 Main blogger and food photo snapper sits on the edge of the counter, where the waitstaff usually pauses for a brief moment with fresh out of the kitchen dishes for a snapshot or two. But there will not be any snapshot today. Out of respect for our guests’ concerns and well-being, the chef asked that there be no photo stop until further notice. Wise.

This is a bit disheartening, but wisdom must rule at this time of uncertainty. We’ll get creative with the existing photo archive. Meanwhile, we must also keep a light heart. March is National Celery Month. So, in keeping with the green theme of our intro, here are a few facts about this apparently unremarkable vegetable. May it serve as a momentary distraction from the gloomy clouds that darken our nation. Not a cure, for sure, but a shift of attention can bring much needed peace.

Speaking of distraction, maybe this is a time to bring back good old family board and card games. It’s the little things that keep us hopeful, close and sane. Make a few snacks and share some carefree moments. How about celery sticks with peanut butter or with cream cheese and chopped nuts? While you’re at it, throw a few celery sticks in the blender, add one green apple, one large carrot and water to the desired consistency. Mix well. Drink to your health.

Celery was first cultivated in the Mediterranean region about 3000 years ago. It was consumed mainly for medicinal purposes then. It was used to alleviate anxiety, arthritis, hypertension and insomnia. Sounds about right for what hails us these days, doesn’t it? It was also thought to be a powerful blood purifier.

Modern medicine confirms the health benefits of this stalky food. While you’d have to eat tons of it for full effects, its nutritional value is far from negligible. In fact, unlike other vegetables, celery retains most of its nutrients even when cooked. Steaming is the best method, as it reduces celery’s antioxidant properties by less than 20%.

Noteworthy, also, is celery’s aesthetic value. In ancient Greece, heroes of athletic games were often offered a “bouquet” of celery in lieu of a reward. Artists have included celery in their still life studies for centuries. It may have stayed fresh a bit longer than other greens, and it offered peaceful, healing color accents, brightness, and may have suggested invigorating freshness.

To your health!