Celery has been a long time favorite for dieters seeking a low-calorie snack, hot wing eaters looking for a cool down, and moms making healthy snacks for the family. It also has a traditional place in culinary kitchens around the world. When combined with onions and carrots, celery creates the flavor base for many stews, soups, sauces, and stocks in French cooking. This combination is known as a “mirepoix”. The creole version substitute’s carrots for bell peppers and is fondly called the “holy trinity” in Cajun cooking.
In ancient times, wild celery was used as a nerve soother and pain reliever. Today’s medical research shows that celery provides relief from inflammation, especially in the digestive tract. Nutritionally, celery is a good source of anti-oxidants, vitamin C, and fiber. One stalk of celery contains about 10 calories. There is a myth that you burn more calories chewing and digesting celery than you get from actually eating it; so it is often referred to as a “negative calorie” food. However, this has not been proven. There is no scientific evidence that proves a food can be negative calorie.
Celery was introduced as a crop in the United States in the mid 1800’s. Michigan was once a celery-growing powerhouse and today, California ranks #1 on the growers list. Celery is in the same family as carrots, parsley, dill and fennel.
Age to introduce: 2-3 years old (raw celery is a choking hazard for small children)
At the market
Selection: Choose straight, rigid celery stalks with fresh leaves. Avoid pithy, woody or limp stalks. Celery should smell fresh.
Storage: Refrigerate celery in a plastic bag. Use within 2 weeks.
Cleaning: Wash thoroughly. Celery can have dirt and sand in it.
Celery for the whole family
Stuffed Celery: Celery’s u-shape makes it perfect for filling. For a quick appetizer or after-school snack spread celery stalks with one of these fillings:
- Hummus sprinkled with paprika
- Cream cheese topped with dried cranberries
- Cheese spread topped with green olive slices
- Peanut butter topped with raisins
Simple stuffing: Add nutrition and flavor to a boxed stuffing mix. Simply sauté ¼ cup diced celery, ½ cup onion, and ¼ cup diced carrots in butter until softened (about 5 minutes). Add this mixture to the stuffing and follow the preparation directions on the package.
Salads & Tacos! That’s right! Sliced or diced celery adds just a little more crunch to these dishes.
Tossed into Tuna: Add crunch to tuna or chicken salad. Mix together diced celery, dried cranberries, mayonnaise, and tuna or chopped chicken. Season with salt & pepper. Makes delicious sandwiches with whole-wheat bread or toasted English muffins!
Stir-Fried Celery: Celery goes well with carrots, bell peppers, broccoli and onions. Add it to your favorite Chinese stir fry or try our recipe for Pork Chow Mein.
Pork Chow Mein
- 1 cup Chicken broth
- 1/3 cup Oyster sauce
- 2 Tbsp. Soy sauce
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 4 Tbsp. Oil
- 1 (1 lb.) pork tenderloin, cut into thin slices
- 1 Tbsp. Sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. Ginger, minced
- 3 Garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Onion, thin sliced
- 3 celery stalks, thin sliced on the diagonal
- 8 oz. Mushrooms, thin sliced
- 1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, sliced
- 6-8 ounces Fresh bean sprouts
- 1 Can Crispy rice noodles
- Cooked White or Brown rice
Whisk together the chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, cornstarch and sugar in a small bowl, and set aside. Season the pork with the sesame oil, salt, and pepper.
Heat a skillet or wok over high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. oil to pan and stir-fry the pork until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Remove pork from the pan.
Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in the skillet. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry about 30 seconds. Add the onion, celery, and mushrooms and stir-fry, until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the water chestnuts and pork. Spread the ingredients to the outside of the pan to form a well in the center. Pour the chicken broth mixture into the well and bring the sauce to a boil. Stir in the bean sprouts and coat the chow mein mixture with sauce.
Remove from the heat. Transfer Pork Chow Mein to a platter and top with the rice noodles. Serve with rice.