Whether you grow them yourself, buy them at the farmer’s market, or have friends that unload their summer bounty on you, we all have heaps of cucumbers (and zucchini!) piling up this time of year. If you are like me, who loves cucumbers and will eat them like carrots, skin and all, then this isn’t a problem. But what if you are getting tired of cucumber salads and don’t know what else to do? Not to worry, here are 10 uses for cucumbers that you may or may not have heard before.
1. Sooth tired eyes: (Okay we’ve all heard of this one before, but it works! I did it this afternoon after staring at the computer all day) Grab a cold cucumber from the fridge, cut two thick slices, and set the cucumbers over your closed eyes for 10-15 minutes. The high water content in cucumbers helps to hydrate tender skin, while the cold temperature helps to reduce swelling.
2. Make a cucumber and yogurt mask: Puree 1/2 a cucumber in the blender, mix in 1 Tbsp. plain yogurt, apply all over face and neck, relax for 15-20 minutes. Rinse with warm water, then follow with a splash of cold water. The flesh of cucumber contains vitamin C and caffeic acid which help sooth skin irritations and the phytonutrients in cucumbers cause the collagen in your skin to tighten and firm. Yogurt helps to refine pores, exfoliate the skin, and stimulate collagen production.
3. Clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel: (I tried this one, too, and I must say my faucet is looking pretty shiny!) Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean to remove tarnish and bring back shine.
4. Relax in a cooling summer bath: Add 2 cups Epsom salt, 1 sliced cucumber, and a handful of peppermint leaves to a tub a tepid water. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Soak, relax, and be happy. Both cucumber and peppermint have a soothing and cooling effect on skin irritations caused by hives, poison oak, or sunbruns. Peppermint can also reduce headaches and be used in the treatment of depression.
5. Make a chilled soup: Because of their high water content, cucumbers are a great low-calorie and fresh-tasting base for soup. To make a creamy Cucumber-Avocado soup, blend 1 peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber, 1 ripe avocado, 2 chopped green onions, 2 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt, and 1 cup cold water. Process until smooth, season with salt and pepper, and stir in 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro. Serves 4.
6. Sandwich sliced cucumbers and cream cheese between slices of rye bread for pretty cucumber tea sandwiches.
7. Make Cucumber Lemonade Popsicles: Add the juice of one lemon to 2 cups of water, sweeten the lemon water to taste with maple syrup, honey, or agave. Stir in 1 cup julienned seedless cucumber. Fill popsicle molds and freeze for 4-5 hours until solid. You could use lime juice instead of lemon.
8. Mix up a Cucumber Gimlet:
1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces simple syrup
3 ounces gin or vodka
Muddle 8-10 pieces of cucumber with the lime juice in a shaker. Add simple syrup, gin, and ice. Shake well, strain, and serve. Garnish with sliced cucumber or a fresh mint sprig.
9. Add thin slices of cucumber to a pitcher of water and refrigerate for a few hours to make refreshing cucumber water.
10. Whip up a Lean Green Smoothie by blending together a sliced cucumber, 1 cup of chopped honeydew melon, 1 cup of ice cubes, and a handful of fresh mint. Garnish with mint and a slice of cucumber.
Because you read this far, here are a few bonuses:
- Feeling tired in the afternoon? Munch on a cucumber to get a good dose of B vitamins, which help boost your energy.
- Maybe you had one too many of those delicious cucumber gimlets and want to avoid a hangover. Eat a cucumber (that’s not soaked in alcohol) before going to bed. They contain enough sugar, electrolytes, and B vitamins to help replenish essential nutrients that your body may have lost due to dehydration.
- Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath. The phytochemicals in cucumbers kill the bacteria in your mouth that are responsible for bad breath.
What do you do with your piles of cucumbers? Have any favorite cucumber recipes? Leave a comment to share.
Happy Friday everybody!