As I groggily climbed aboard the rugged all-wheel-drive vehicle to set off from Darwin into the wilds of Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks in Australia, my fellow adventurers snickered at the bag of vegetables and other food that I carried with me. It was still early, so our interactions at that point were limited to sleepy introductions. After about an hour, I pulled out a stalk of celery to nibble on for my breakfast. At this point, people couldn't contain themselves.
"You're like a rabbit!" Exclaimed one of my new companions.
I laughed, "I bring veggies with me everywhere I go. I travel with healthy food whenever I can!"
They immediately responded, "Yea, you travel with celery!"
I certainly do. Celery is, in my opinion, one of the most amazing foods there is.
“Never miss a party...good for the nerves--like celery.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
It's a well-known green vegetable that can be grown around the world, and has a number of really unique and beneficial properties. Here's a few fun facts:
- It was originally consumed not as a food, but as a medicine, and the Greeks first described the medical properties of the plant. It was used as a common cure for stones, constipation, menstrual problems and liver/gall disorders. Celery is also said to have a stimulating effect on the sexual systems, and is a stong diuretic due to its stimulating effect on the kidneys, can help control arthritis and rheumatism, and relieves stomach gas.
- The Greeks and Roman considered it a sacred plant, and it was often used in garlands for winners of sporting events or for honoured people.
- It has a well-balanced content of basic minerals, vitamins (especially vitamin K and folate) and nutrients, including chlorides, potassium and naturally occurring sodium in the form your body needs.
- Celery is calming. It contains unique concentrations of plant hormones and essential oils, which have a specific, regulating effect on the nervous system. Combine these micronutrients with the longer time it requires to chew up the fibrous plant, and you're likely to be more relaxed if you take a 'celery break' when you feel anxious.
- Have a glass of juiced celery and honey to reduce your appetite or to help you sleep well.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties that act particularly in the digestive tract, thanks to unique non-starch polysaccharides.
- Celery has been in the top four of the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list since 2009, so buy organic when you can!
- It travels well. Just bring the whole thing with you and break off stalks as you'd like to eat them.
As with all veggies, eat it when it's fresh and crisp and use the leaves, they are very nutritious. I like to put them in soups as garnish or add to salads or green smoothies. Celery is also one of those magical veggies that you can re-grow from the base.