What is Celtuce?
Celtuce is a cultivar of lactuca sativa, variations including augustana, angustata or asparagina. Cultivars are plants that are produced with deliberate, selective breeding.
Lactuca sativa consists of different types of lettuce, which all belong to the Asteraceae family of flowering plants.
The name “celtuce” is a combination of celery and lettuce. This is due to the fact that celtuce has physical characteristics of both vegetables.
The stalks of the vegetable resemble those of celery. The head of the plant has full, wide leaves that resemble lettuce.
Celtuce also goes under other monikers: stem lettuce, celery lettuce, and asparagus lettuce are three common examples.
Celtuce is heat sensitive, growing best in cool environments. The ideal temperature for this vegetable is 15 to 20 degrees Celsius.
If exposed to excessive heat, celtuce has a tendency to bolt. Bolting is a survival mechanism that results in reduced leaf growth and rapid flower and seed growth.
The best time for harvesting celtuce is when the stem has grown to a height of 15 to 25 centimeters. The stem should be between three to four centimeters in diameter.
Although the entire vegetable is edible, celtuce is primarily grown for its stem. When healthy and ready for harvest, the celery-like stem is thick and crispy.
If celtuce is cut too late the stems will appear stringy, particularly towards the base. However, you can easily remove this fibrous layer by peeling it away. (Source)
This leafy vegetable is especially popular in China, where it is used in various dishes. Celtuce also has value in Chinese traditional medicine.
Traditional medical practitioners believe celtuce can help remove toxins from your body. It is also thought to possess cooling properties.
The exact origins of celtuce are not known. It is thought to have been brought from the Mediterranean coastal region to China between 618 and 907.
It was sold within the United States as “asparagus lettuce” towards the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately, the vegetable was not very popular at the time.
It was only in the mid-1940’s that celtuce emerged on the American market. David Burpee, the founder of a seed company, brought back celtuce seeds from China.
Burpee was responsible for naming the vegetable “celtuce” after its unique appearance. It is typically sold in Asian grocery stores throughout the globe. (Source)
Celtuce is packed with essential nutrients. It is also low in calories, cholesterol and fat.
One serving of celtuce worth 100 grams consists of 18 calories. This same serving contains 3.6 grams of carbohydrates, 1.7 grams of fiber, and 0.9 grams of protein.
Of the 18 calories found in a single serving of celtuce, 13.4 are made up of carbohydrates. Fat and protein are 2.5 and 2.1 calories, respectively.
Celtuce contains certain vitamins and minerals that have a range of health benefits.
The daily value percentages of the following nutrients per serving include:
- Vitamin A (70 percent)
- Vitamin C (33 percent)
- Vitamin C (33 percent)
- Folate (11 percent)
- Potassium (9 percent) (Source)
Vitamin A is a vital micronutrient that our bodies cannot produce. This means we have to acquire it from external sources, such as food and supplements.
This vitamin plays a key role in various processes in your body. Your skin, eyes, and other surface tissues need vitamin A to maintain integrity.
Also known as retinol, it assists in the daily replacement of skin cells. It is especially important when it comes to your ability to see in poor lighting. (Source)
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid has antioxidant properties. It works to protect your body from the unpleasant effects of both internal and external toxins.
Your gums, connective tissue, and bones all require vitamin C for healthy development. It also promotes the absorption of iron, a micronutrient your body needs for many functions.
Although vitamin C can be found in meat, it is best derived from plant sources – like celtuce!
A lack of this vitamin can have a host of unpleasant side effects, such as increased infections. Both vitamin C and vitamin A boost immune system function. (Source)
One 100-gram portion of celtuce contains 34 percent of your daily value of manganese. This trace metal is needed for normal development and growth of cells.
Manganese is also active in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Like vitamin C, it protects against toxins known as free radicals that damage cells. (Source)
Celtuce also contains potassium and folate. Numerous studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of a diet that is high in potassium.
Potassium is capable of stabilizing blood pressure. It can also lower high blood pressure.
This mineral reduces your risk of heart disease. The progress of certain kidney diseases can be slowed if you regularly eat potassium-rich foods. (Source)
Folate (vitamin B9) is a derivative of folic acid. A deficiency of this vitamin increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and birth defects in pregnant women. (Source)
Is Celtuce Paleo?
The Paleo diet has grown increasingly popular over the past two decades. This diet advocates eating only nutrient rich, wholesome foods that benefit your health.
The entire diet can be summed up in one core concept. If a food or beverage didn’t exist at least 12,000 years ago, avoid it!
The Paleo diet advocates eating the same way our ancestors did during the Paleolithic era.
This time period began approximately three million years ago, lasting until roughly 12,000 years in the past.
This may seem like the very distant past to you. Still, historically speaking this era came to an end relatively recently.
We share the same DNA as our Paleolithic predecessors. However, our diets have dramatically changed – and so have our bodies.
Our ancestors were a society of hunter-gatherers. They subsisted off food that could be collected from nature or hunted.
The agricultural revolution was far in the distant future. This means that the grain-based foods we consume today (e.g. bread, cereal, etc) did not exist.
A significant amount of time per day was dedicated to foraging and hunting for food. Diet and lifestyle combined meant that Homo sapiens back then were lithe and athletic.
Contrastingly, the average person today is overweight. Processed and manufactured foods have boomed in popularity.
Most of us eat a diet that is high in calories and low in nutrients. On the Paleo diet, you will avoid foods that have little or no nutritional value.
The foods you will be eating on the Paleo diet include:
- Meats (preferably grass-fed and organic)
- Vegetables (preferably fresh)
- Healthy oils (e.g. coconut oil)
If you’re unsure about a certain food or item, ask yourself one question. Is it likely this would have existed in the Paleolithic era?
If it’s a product of agriculture or contains artificial ingredients, the answer is no. The same is true of anything that has been manufactured in a factory, such as chips.
The foods you will be avoiding include:
- Processed and manufactured foods
- Refined sugar (e.g. soda, candy, etc)
- Refined vegetable oils (e.g. sunflower oil)
- All grain-based products (e.g. bread, cereal, etc)
- All dairy products
- Tubers (e.g. potatoes)
- Legumes (e.g. beans, peanuts, etc)
The Paleo diet is not about restricting calories or obsessive meal planning. Try to use common sense when it comes to preparing your meals.
For example, certain nuts tend to be high in calories. Eat them in moderation rather than in excess.
As a vegetable, celtuce is definitely considered Paleo. You should be eating plenty of vegetables on the Paleo diet – why not make celtuce one of them? (Source)
How to Use Celtuce
Celtuce is a versatile vegetable. You can cook it or eat it raw, and both leaves and stem are edible.
Most people only eat the stem, which has a mild flavor that is similar to celery. A healthy celtuce stem should be firm and crunchy.
Celtuce leaves are fine to eat as long as they are young. If the leaves have a white, milky sap forming on them they will likely taste bitter.
This vegetable is simple to prepare for consumption. All you have to do is remove the outer layer of skin on the stalk!
You can use a knife or a vegetable peeler for convenience. If you will not be using the leaves, they can easily be cut off. (Source)
The stalk can be dipped raw into sauces or dips as a healthy snack. Dice it up and add celtuce stems to your favorite salad for a crunchy texture!
Celtuce stalks can also be pickled. Simply chop the stem into pieces and add your brine of choice to a jar. (Source)
These vegetables are a popular addition to stir-fried meals in China. Their mild flavor can be combined with your meat of choice and other vegetables.
If you want to try adding celtuce leaves to your meals, saute them. Add oil, your favorite spices and include them in salads or as a side dish.
Celtuce is a tasty and healthful addition to almost any meal. There are a wide range of recipes you can include celtuce in – start using it today!
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