Cucumber Salad, Asian Style

By Michelle Nowicki, Nutritionist
This Asian inspired salad is light, crisp, and refreshing. It is easy to prepare and pairs well with fish, chicken, or vegetarian main dishes.

Ingredients

Cucumber Salad, Asian Style

For Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped (discard seeds)
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons safflower oil
  • 3 Tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Other Ingredients

  • 2 large English cucumbers, washed, dried, and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. For the dressing, whisk together the garlic, ginger, red pepper, sesame oil, safflower oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar.
  2. Toss the dressing with the cucumbers in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Chill until ready to serve.
  3. To toast the sesame seeds, place in a dry non-stick skillet over medium high heat and stir frequently until seeds start to turn brown then remove from heat.
  4. When ready to serve, toss with the cilantro and sesame seeds.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 133 Calories; 11 grams fat; 9 grams Carbohydrate; 2 grams protein.

Key Ingredient Benefits

Brown Rice Vinegar: This vinegar has been used for cooking and in healing remedies in Asia for centuries. It helps to kill bacteria and has antioxidant properties by preventing the formation of fatty peroxides. Like other vinegars it may help prevent heart disease, aid in digestion and help to control diabetes.

Cilantro: The leaves are variously referred to as coriander leaves, fresh coriander, Chinese parsley, or cilantro (in America, from the Spanish name for the plant). In parts of Europe, this herb has traditionally been referred to as an “anti-diabetic” plant. In parts of India, it has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. In the United States, cilantro (coriander) has recently been studied for its cholesterol-lowering effects.

Cucumber: Cucumbers belong to the same botanical family as melons and squashes. They are 95% water and help keep the body hydrated while aiding in the elimination of toxins. They are a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Potassium and a good source of Vitamin A, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Manganese. Cucumbers contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol – lignans that may help fight cardiovascular disease as well as certain types of cancer.

Garlic: Vampire jokes aside, garlic can protect us in many ways. It contains sulfur compounds that may protect cells from cancer, relax blood vessels and improve cardiovascular health. Research suggests garlic may help boost our cellular antioxidant production. There is some evidence supporting numerous health benefits from a diet rich in garlic.

Ginger: This flavorful root contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds. This may explain why some people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience less pain and more mobility when they up their ginger consumption. Ginger also helps with gastrointestinal distress, motion sickness and nausea. Finally, research suggests that ginger may have antioxidant and anti-tumor effects on cells.

Red Bell Peppers: Bell peppers are an excellent source of carotenoids and vitamin C and are members of the nightshade family. They also provide plenty of fiber, water and Vitamin A.

Safflower Oil: This oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats (~78%) and contains ~13.3 % polyunsaturated fat and 8.7% saturated fat. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats both help to reduce levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol and increase levels of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol. A higher HDL-to-total cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular benefits and may help reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and hardened arteries. Safflower oil is also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E.

Sesame Oil: This oil is an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatting acids including omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are crucial for growth and development and may help prevent and treat chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and arthritis.

Sesame Seeds: A very good source of manganese and copper and a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and fiber. Sesame seeds also contain two lignans, sesamin and sesamolin which have been shown to help lower cholesterol in humans. Sesamin may also help to protect the liver from oxidative damage.

Tamari Sauce: This cousin of soy sauce is high in sodium, but offers a more robust flavor than salt. Note: if you have been told by your doctor to limit your salt intake, you may want to use less and/or a low sodium type soy sauce.

Michelle Nowicki has a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition, completed a dietetic internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and has a graduate degree from Yale University.