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Cucumbers : From the Njaim Farm to your Kitchen

We grow our own cucumbers

Who knew tasty cucumbers carry an abundance of nutrients? They’re not just healthy, but cucumbers are ridiculously good for you. When we decided to grow our own cucumbers, it was the crunch that had won us over. This vegetable (well, actually a fruit) requires 15-33°C (60-90°F) in temperature and Ottawa is no tropical valley. But we were up to the challenge.

Historians suspect first cucumbers originated in India or parts of the Middle East. They’ve existed for over 4000 years and were not brought to North America until the 1500’s. They come in various colors, shapes and sizes. On our farm, we grow Lebanese cucumbers, which are much smaller than English cucumber with a maximum of 22cm in length, and have thinner, smoother skin.

We purchased a local farm with 88 acres and planted the first seed in 1998. Our goal initially was to supply our customers with locally grown produce. Today, our clients have become accustomed to picking out fresh cucumbers from Mid-East Foods 3 out of 4 seasons a year. We rely on a 3rd party supplier to fill in the gap during our winter season.

You enjoy them

We love that you enjoy cucumbers but what you may love are the health benefits cucumbers offer. Did you know that cucumbers offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and potentially anti-cancer benefits? According to Organic Facts, cucumber contain vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, fibre and minerals. So what does this really mean? It means that cucumbers :

· keep you hydrated

· help with weight loss

· help relieve heart burn and sun burn

· benefit diabetics, and those with high blood pressure or high cholestoral

· and much more…

There is plenty of information on the web about the health benefits. Check out our favourite site: Care2.

To peel or not to peel

We’ve always considered cucumbers a vegetable, adding them to our salads or in a sandwich. But, cucumbers are actually fruits, not vegetables. In fact, they belong to the family of melons and squashes.

As with many other fruits and vegetables, the nutrients are found primarily in the skin and the seeds. According to The World’s Healthies Foods, “the nutrient richness of both plant parts is significantly higher than the flesh”. You might want to just wash, cut and eat them to get the most nutrients out of your cucumbers. And if you prefer to drink the cucumber juice, try it out with the skin on.

How you can eat them

The most common way to consume cucumbers are to slice them and toss them in a salad. But if you’re looking for something on the go, grab a cucumber and crunch it up. No need to slice. It makes for a great healthy snack. And why not add it to the kids’ lunch box? Cucumbers also add a nice crunch and a bit of sweetness to a sandwich either sliced or had on the side. They’re especially good with pressed yogurt (aka labneh) or white cheese.

A nice refreshing side dish with cucumber is the yogurt and cucumber mix. This dish is similar to the Greek Tzatziki. It can be ready in 4 easy steps:

1. Mash a clove of garlic.

2. Add a cup of yogurt.

3. Slide 2 cucumbers.

4. Sprinkle some dried mint.

Mix and enjoy with a slice of pita bread on the side.

Having a party and looking for hors d’oeuvres ideas? Add sliced cucumbers to skewers of cherry tomatoes and olives, or crackers with cream cheese, and even chicken or tuna on a baguette. Like we said earlier, cucumbers can be added to just about anything. Always fresh. Remember to store them in the fridge so that they keep for the week.

We hope you enjoyed this article. Come back often and check out our growing Mid-East Foods blog.


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