The Cool Cucumber

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PHOENIX - I don't know where the phrase "cool as a cucumber" originated, but it works.  Cucumbers cool in the summer and soothe in the winter.  Many beauty products tout cucumber as an ingredient for the same reason we place the crisp circular veggie under tired eyes.  With Vitamin C and other beneficial acid ingredients, the cucumber prevents water retention that can form under puffy peepers.  The cucumber's skin also benefits the body because it is rich in fiber and potassium. 

I've noticed that some restaurants serve cucumber water, tasty cucumber cocktails or healthy cucumber smoothies.  So, I have decided to share a few of these cool cucumber creations to celebrate the summer season.  Plus, I found a couple of beauty products that I like that also incorporate the cool cucumber.

Cucumbers 101

Before we slice and dice a cucumber and turn one into a healthy smoothie and yummy cocktail, let's learn a little bit about the cool cucumber.  Did you know….

*Cucumbers are one of the oldest cultivated veggies, believed to have come from India.

*Cucumbers are low in calories and high in Vitamin K, antioxidants and potassium.

*Cucumber peels are high in fiber and help to reduce constipation and may offer some protection against colon cancers.

*Cucumbers also offer the body water and electrolytes, making it a great veggie snack for the hot days of summer.

Several Tasty Cucumber Types

*The garden cucumbers (also called Slicers) is the most common cucumber sold in American stores.  I like to buy organic because many grocery store varieties are waxed to help them retain moisture.  So to avoid the wax, buy organic or from a local farmer's market. 

*Persian cucumbers are seedless, sweet and crunchy and are available at Trader Joe's. 

*English cucumbers are long and thin.  This crunchy variety has soft seeds and a thin skin, so I like to eat them with the skins on. 

Cutting Cucumbers

A lot of folks like to skin cucumbers for salads and other recipes, but I try to keep the skins on because I like the fiber that the skin gives my body.  I have experimented and have come up with several ways that I like to cut cucumber.  Watch the segment to see the demo. 

For salads, I like to slice either circles or strips.  For a decorative veggie tray, I use the Chef Harvey's Crinkle Cutter that I bought at Sur la Table (www.surlatable.com) for $3.50 that makes pretty ridged edges.  To make tiny cucumber bits that I like to add to my guacamole, I use my Pampered Chef Food Chopper (www.pamperedchef.com).  I also make cucumber strips by cutting the cucumber into three equal parts.  Then I actually use my apple wedger to get the strips.  The center of the wedged cucumber can then be used to garnish a cucumber cocktail.  See the segment to see what I mean! 

Now let's make a healthy cucumber smoothie and then a cucumber cocktail, which are both perfect for summer.

The Cool Cucumber Smoothie from Pomegranate Café's Recipe Box

Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 large cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
2 or 3 sprigs mint
pure coconut water - just enough to cover fruit - I bought mine at Trader Joe's.

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend it up for about 30 seconds or longer depending on the consistency you like.  If you decide to blend with the skin on, then you get a great source of beautifying zinc. Other skin-enhancing compounds include silica and Vitamin C.  Both cucumbers and coconut water are hydrating and mint is soothing to the stomach.

Now for the cucumber cocktail….

    NOLET’S Silver Cucumber Mint Lemonade

1.25 oz. Nolet's Silver Dry Gin -- this is a modern take on gin with a refreshing floral and fruit-forward flavor featuring notes that evoke the essence of summer like Turkish rose, peach and raspberry.
1 oz. Simple Syrup
1 oz. Lemon juice
Cucumber Slice
8 mint leaves

Muddle 1 piece of cucumber and 8 mint leaves with the simple syrup and lemon juice. Fill glass with ice and build with Gin. Give the drink a stir and use a cucumber garnish.  Yum!  Find more cool cocktail recipes at Nolet's website at noletsgin.com.

….And A Few Of My Favorite Cucumber Infused Beauty Products

*South of France Spa Naturals from Good Health Natural Products.  This line is 100% natural, paraben-free and is packaged in biodegradable and recyclable materials.  My favorite South of France Spa Naturals items include the Cucumber Aloe French Milled Vegetable Soap, Cucumber Aloe Soothing Cleanser, Cucumber Aloe Soothing Scrub, Cucumber Aloe Soothing Mask and Cucumber Aloe Soothing Moisturizer.  The soap sells for $5 and the cleanser, scrub, mask and moisturizer all sell for $12 each.  For more information or to order, visit sofspa.com. 

*philosophy’s just release me dual-phase, oil-free eye makeup remover that sells for $18 for a 6 oz. container.  This product effectively removes eye makeup without irritation and leaves skin feeling clean with no oily residue.  It is also an extra-gentle, oil-free formula that contains aloe, chamomile and cucumber that soothe and calm skin.  For more information visit philosophy.com.

* Jane Iredale’s Active Light is an illuminating under-eye concealer that instantly brightens your complexion while providing the skin care benefits. This revolutionary formula won’t crease or crepe, because it contains no talc, leaving a smooth airbrushed finish to the skin. Cucumber, white tea extract and buckwheat wax calm tired eyes and reduce puffiness.  It is available at shop.janeiredale.com for $25.00.

*Yes to Cucumbers Calming Shower Gel for Sensitive Skin is paraben-free and is made with cucumbers and green tea and is 99.8% natural.  It is also conveniently sold at Walgreens for $9.99 for a big 16 oz. jar.

What is your favorite cucumber recipe, drink or beauty product?  Share here in the comments section and enjoy the green goodness of a cool cucumber!