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    June 20, 2003     PAGE FIVE      
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      The Low Carb Good Life with Brenda Crump

                                      "Be brave enough to live creatively...
                                What you'll discover will be wonderful:   Yourself."
                                                                      
Alan Alda

We're proud to feature "The Low Carb Good Life" by regular columnist Brenda Crump, who's also one of our smart and resourceful moderators at Talking Low Carb (our Low Carb Luxury Discussion Forums.) Brenda has found the keys to making low carb a true lifestyle, with proper nutrition at the heart of it all!

                             Celery Root (celeriac)
You canít judge a book by its cover. You also apparently canít judge a vegetable by its appearance. Todayís "Vegetable of the Day" known as celery root, celery knob (yum!), turnip rooted celery (rolls right off the tongue) and my personal favorite; celery knave. Whatever you decide to call it, this is a surprisingly healthy and delicious vegetable to add to your low carb diet.

I confess to never having tried celeriac before choosing it as the subject of this article. If youíve ever spotted a celery root in the grocery store, winced, and then walked away — youíll know why I have never tried one until now.

celeriac Celeriac (pronounced celery-ack) looks like a cross between a mutant pineapple and a miniature Jabba the Hutt. Not exactly appetizing. However, my unwavering dedication to bringing the joy of vegetables (even the ugly ones) to low carbers everywhere compelled me to overlook the unattractive appearance of the celery root and make a temporary home for it in my refrigerator. While it rested there amongst its better looking counterparts, I went off to find nutritional information and recipes.

Celery root, with a net carb count of 11.5 grams in a one cup serving, is somewhat higher in carbohydrates than other vegetables. Keep in mind that celeriac, like most vegetables, is a food low on the glycemic index with little impact on insulin levels. A one cup serving will be very filling for most people and it does provide quite a bit of nutrition. Celeriac is a great source of potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and phosphorus. It is also a good source of fiber, and contains small amounts of calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium and copper.

The experts say that when you are shopping for celery root, you should choose a relatively small, firm one with a minimum of rootlets and knobs. And really, avoiding rootlets and knobs sounds like excellent advice for practically any food-related purpose, donít you think? You should also avoid those with soft spots, which indicate decay. Any green leaves still attached to the root are inedible. Store celeriac in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.

I found a very appealing recipe for "Celeriac Fritters with Mustard Dip" at Food Down Under, and decided to begin my experimentation using that. Iím easily sold on anything called a "fritter" anyway, but this recipe seemed simple enough and needed no modifications to make it lower in carbs.

I assembled the ingredients, retrieved Jabba Jr from the fridge, and began the daunting task of peeling and slicing it:

      
You use a method similar to that which you'd use to peel a pineapple. Cut off the top; sit the root on the larger end for stability; and begin by slicing large sections of peel away, following the curve of the root. When it comes to celeriac, you can only use about three-fourths of what you buy... there's a lot of outer waste. Once the peeling is off, you are left with a pale, slightly slippery chunk of vegetable that smells mildly like celery and is ready to be cut into fritter-sized pieces.

I was too cowardly to eat any of the pieces raw because I was sure it was going to be bitter or overwhelmingly celery flavored. I can admit this now because this story has a happy ending, but at the time I was trying to think of what Iíd write about celeriac if it tasted absolutely wretched. Not to worry. It was delicious, and here is the recipe:

                                         

      Celeriac Fritters with Mustard Dip

Celeriac Fritters with Mustard Dip
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Ĺ cups ground almonds
  • 3 Tbl parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbl fresh parsley, chopped
    (I used slightly less, dried)
  • 1 medium celery root (about 1 lb.)
  • Lemon juice
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbl whole grain mustard
  • Salt and black pepper
Beat the egg well and pour into a shallow dish. Mix together the almonds, parmesan and parsley in a separate dish. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Set aside.

Peel and cut the celeriac into strips about Ĺ inch wide and 2 inches long. Drop them immediately into a bowl of water with a little lemon juice added to prevent discoloration.

Heat the oil to 350įF. (I used medium high heat on my electric stove and it worked just fine.)

Drain and pat dry half of the celeriac strips. Dip them into the beaten egg, then into the ground almond mixture, making sure that the pieces are coated completely and evenly.

Deep fry the celeriac fritters, a few at a time, for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep them warm while you cook the remainder.

To make the mustard dip, mix together sour cream, mustard, and salt to taste. Spoon into a small serving bowl.

Heap the fritters onto warmed serving plates. Sprinkle with salt and serve at once with the mustard dip.

This recipe will make about 6 appetizer or side-dish servings. According to Master Cook there are approximately 14g of carbohydrate per serving, with 1 g of dietary fiber.

   

These fritters were scrumptious! They were surprisingly mild and slightly sweet with just a hint of celery flavor and a perfect amount of cheesy goodness from the parmesan. The texture was very similar to fried potato. They were especially good with the mustard dip. I immediately wished that I had made more of them, but I had let my fear of the unknown get the better of me and Iíd only made myself a batch of about six fritters. Still, they were very filling and well worth the effort of peeling and slicing.

If you arenít into fritters, celery root can be baked, boiled, cubed and tossed into soups and stews or roasted. It can also be braised, grilled and purťed.

Karline, one of our Talking Low Carb forum members, has created a delicious sounding recipe, "Karlineís Fabulous Fauxtato Mash," which is made with celeriac. It sounds perfect for low carbers who miss mashed potatoes. You can serve celeriac raw, sliced matchstick thin and added to a salad. It can also be shredded and used to make celeriac slaw. So go ahead and buy a few celery "knaves" and try them several different ways.

Celeriac... Yes, it is bone-jarringly ugly. But it is also nutritious, versatile and exceptionally tasty. If you havenít tried it, you really should. Iím adding it to my list of reasons why this low carb life is so good!
                                                                             Brenda





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