It is hard to stay cool as a cucumber in Mississippi’s “dog days of summer.” Your best bet is to stay hydrated and keep refreshing snacks handy. Grown in every garden, found at every farmers’ market, and on a shelf in every grocery store, you’ll find cucumbers—a low-calorie, inexpensive veggie with many nutritional benefits, including hydrating properties and helpful nutrients. The problem is by late summer, cucumbers start to pile up on your countertop or get bypassed at the market. The solution is to freshen up the way you eat cucumbers, outside of the traditional pickling or simple slicing.
One of my favorite cucumber snacks is slicing up several and adding them to a bowl of Italian dressing, just enough to cover the cucumbers, with a dash (or two) of creole seasoning. Please don’t knock it till you try it! Let it cool in the refrigerator and then enjoy a cupful with any main dish or as a cool and refreshing snack. When I’m looking for a heartier way to use cucumbers, I make a cucumber and chickpea salad. Simple ingredients such as cucumber, red onion, and cilantro keep this salad light and fresh. Chickpeas provide a plant-based protein, and feta cheese offers a creamy texture, while extra virgin olive oil completes the salad with a heart-healthy fat leaving you full and satisfied. A big bowl paired with Mississippi Gulf Coast Seafood, other lean meats, or stuffed into a whole-grain pita pocket will provide you with a balanced lunch or simple dinner.
Somehow, the low-key cucumber became a viral TikTok trend this past summer. Influencers were suggesting sprinkling sugar or a sugar substitute on sliced cucumber as an alternative to watermelon. As a registered dietitian and a lover of Smith County watermelons and joyful eating, I would never recommend cutting calories by cutting out a whole food like watermelon. Seriously, go all-in for a slice of watermelon when you’re craving one of Mississippi’s sweetest summertime treats. However, if you want to be on-trend or do a little food experiment at home, give sugared cucumber a try.
There is still plenty of summer left to enjoy our Mississippi-grown cucumbers. If you give one of these recipes a try, give me a shout. I’d love to hear from you! Find me online at RebeccaTurnerNutrition.com.
Cucumber and Chickpea Salad
3 cups sliced cucumbers
1/2 medium red onion sliced
1 cup chickpeas (rinsed)
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1-2 Tbsp EVOO olive oil
Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.
Toss it. Refrigerate it. Eat it.