From smoothies to gazpacho to ice cream, cucumbers are the star. Crisp and cool, cucumbers are a great addition to a salad. But this versatile fruit (yes, it’s technically a fruit) offers much more than your garden garnish.
For one, cucumbers contain a wealth of nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. In fact, just one cup provides about 25 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which supports bone and heart health.
According to Fox, cucumbers are 95 percent water and are also known for their moisture content. That’s why they’re so refreshing on hot summer days. Plus, you can adapt and transform cucumbers from almost any recipe. From smoothies to gazpacho to ice cream, cucumbers are the star of these six creative (no salad) recipes.
Creamy avocado and cucumber smoothie
This moisturizing green smoothie, which includes baby spinach, cucumber, apples, avocado, and serrano peppers, is packed with a variety of fresh, nutrient-rich foods without being too calorie-dense (just 174 per serving).
The long list of healthy ingredients is rounded out by unsweetened green tea, which has a light herbal flavor and helps to lose weight.
A study conducted in December 2013 in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences concluded that drinking four cups of green tea daily resulted in significant reductions in body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure. For a richer smoothie, the doctor recommends adding a protein source, such as protein powder, unsweetened yogurt, or chickpeas.
Cucumber and lime lollipop
If you’re trying to drink more H2O, reduce your sugar intake, or simply focus on eating healthier, a nutritionist highly recommends trying these refreshing, nutritious cucumber-based ice lollies.
“By using fresh vegetables and herbs, and stevia as a sweetener, they are not only hydrating but also contain no added sugars, making them a nutritious substitute for sugar lollipops on a hot summer day,” she says. Meanwhile, thanks to menthol, mint leaves leave a cool sensation in the mouth and help keep your breath fresh.
Avocado and cucumber gazpacho
According to Fox, this cooling, plant-based cucumber, and avocado gazpacho, flavored with warm spices like ground cumin and cayenne pepper, is a great low-calorie recipe. And since this cold, refreshing vegetable soup requires no stovetop cooking, it’s perfect for hot summer nights.
To make a more balanced dish, it is recommended to add dried and rinsed chickpeas. “This will increase the protein content without dramatically changing the flavor and texture,” she says.
Creamy spinach dip
Nutritious and well-balanced, this wonderful dip can be used as a great appetizer or a hearty afternoon snack. “This Spinach and Cucumber Dip is a great example of how you can easily increase your vegetable intake without giving up your favorite foods,” says Fox.
And unlike store-bought vegetable dips, this healthier, homemade version contains just four simple, whole-food ingredients-water chestnuts, Greek yogurt, cucumber, and frozen spinach-so you can whip it up in five minutes. Serve this deliciously creamy dish with whole wheat crackers or celery sticks.
Boat with tuna and cucumber
“Containing a great balance between healthy fats and protein (21 grams per serving), this tuna and cucumber boat is perfect for a hearty, satisfying and healthy, hydrating, post-workout snack,” says Fox. According to the National Institutes of Health, delicious tuna, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, also supports brain function and heart health.
“Using cucumber as the base instead of crackers or bread” not only increases the moisturizing power of this savory snack but also reduces the number of carbohydrates (only 2 grams per serving!) and calories, “making it a great choice for those looking to lose weight,” says Fox.
Smoothie with blueberries, cucumber, and green tea
According to Fox, this hydrating cucumber-based smoothie is a terrifically nutritious alternative for anyone who loves sorbet or fruity ice. Small but powerful, brain-boosting blueberries have anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent age-related cognitive decline, according to a review published in January 2012 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Since this smoothie is a bit rich in carbohydrates, you can diversify the ingredients by adding some healthy fats or proteins. Fox suggests adding chia, flax, or hemp seeds, as well as protein powder or unsweetened Greek yogurt (or non-dairy yogurt with protein) to increase the feeling of fullness and satiety.