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When I was growing up, my mom would make us Israeli salads, which means instead of lettuce as the base, the primary ingredients were the crisp duo of thinly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.
Cucumbers have been around for about 3,000 years, originating at the foothills of the Himalayas and then making their way over to Egypt. They were highly valued by Greeks and Romans—in fact, the Roman emperor Tiberius is reported to have eaten them every day. In Ninth Century France, Charlemagne had cucumbers growing in his own gardens, and the phrase "cool as a cucumber" is said to have first been used in literature by British poet John Gay, who features it in his 1732 poem "A New Song."
The health benefits of cucumbers include the presence of three types of lignans (a variety of polyphenol) that have a strong history of preventing cardiovascular disease as well as various types of cancers. The crunchy, refreshing member of the gourd family is also known to contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it's a great source of the electrolyte potassium, which helps counter the effects of sodium, thereby aiding in reducing blood pressure.
Here is a recipe for Israeli Tomato Cucumber Salad from TheNourishingCook.com. Remember that the smaller you dice the pieces, the more the seasonings can really get into them.
Israeli Tomato Cucumber Salad
3 ripe tomatoes, diced (seed it if it’s super juicy)
2 large ‘English’ cucumbers or 6 small cucumbers (Persian), diced
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 Tablespoon rice vinegar (or other light vinegar) or lemon juice
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint, parsley and/or cilantro
1 teaspoon powdered sumac (optional)
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle with sumac and mix. Can be eaten right away but improves when it sits in the refrigerator for about one hour.