Essential Sports Nutrition

11/16/17

The underestimated celery plant


History has taught us that plants were commonly used for medicinal reasons, either to cure or reduce symptoms from an illness. Still today, there's no denying that food can be our medicine.

Back in the 1600's, in ancient Egypt, Rome and China, celery was medicinally used to treat health issues, like arthritis and indigestion. Rich in water and a good source of Vitamin K, Celery provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, thanks to it's many phytochemicals (ex. phenolic acids, flavones and flavonols). Although commonly recognized as a "diet" food, with every crunch, you are also providing your body with a great dose of nutrients, like vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin B6.

I love celery as each stalk provides a nice crunch. And despite containing only around 35 mg of sodium, somehow the slight bitterness tricks the taste buds to make you believe that you are eating something salty. Whether you enjoy your celery as "ants on a log" or chopped/diced in salads or in stews, celery can be steamed, blanched, braised or sauteed. 

In addition to the stalk, the leaves and seeds can be also used in cooking.

And you can also eat the root of celery!

While the look may not be appetizing, celery root (also called celeriac) has the taste of celery and parsley, combined into one.

I remember when Karel and I were engaged in 2007 and he wanted to prepare me a traditional Czech Christmas dinner. Although he did have to make some vegetarian modifications for me, as the typical meal that he was use to included fish soup, potato salad and fried carp or schnitzel, I could not get over the delicious taste of the potato salad. Karel had to go to several different grocery stores in the Jacksonville, FL area (where we were living at the time) because he had no luck finding the star ingredient, next to the potatoes - celery root!  Finally, he was able to find a celery root for his recipe.


I was inspired to write this blog post after reading an article on Celery in the latest Nov/Dec 2017 issue of Food and Nutrition magazine (from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

While I was excited to share some nutritional information about celery root, this article reminded me how important it is to see food for much more than calories, fat, protein or carbs. By shifting your view on food, you can eat with less/no guilt or anxiety and feel good about what you are putting into your body. Food shouldn't be tied to rules and it certainly should not be used a control mechanism.
For myself, food often connects me to Karel's upbringing and culture, since he did not grow up in the United States of America but instead, grew up in a communist country in Czech Republic (formally Czechoslovakia). 

Food plays an important role in our lives. With better eating comes better health and with that comes an enhanced quality of life.