Marleen's Smoked Salmon Cucumber Bites and Kombucha Spritzers
It’s cocktail hour . . . with a spin from Dr. Katie and mom Marleen! Thank you for perfecting this recipe with me!
Instead of a boring cheese board and crackers for appetizers, what about a little burst of fresh flavor that leaves you feeling light instead of weighed down?
Cucumbers are such versatile vegetables. I grew up eating the large ones from my mom’s garden, but since then we’ve both discovered English cucumbers, which are SO MUCH BETTER because they have fewer seeds and more crunch. And, at just 16 calories per cup, cucumbers are a joy for the waistline!
Cucumbers are extra useful at cocktail time because they are super hydrating, which helps balance out alcohol toxins that might be consumed at the same time(!). Their fiber content helps to support digestion and fill up your tummy.
A little salt goes a long way
Sprinkling cucumbers with a little salt after slicing helps with drawing out excess water content, which makes them a little crunchier and helps balance the mild flavor of avocado and zing of lime in this appetizer.
What about smoked animal products?
Many of you know that I don’t love smoked or cured animal products because there’s a correlation to increased risk of colorectal disease when consumed regularly. Having a bit of wild smoked salmon on this appetizer provides just the right amount of flavor. It’s okay in moderation!
The first time I had kombucha, it was way too strong for me. I was not prepared for the tangy flavor characteristic of all fermented foods. And this is coming from a girl who grew up eating sauerkraut! Making spritzers is a way to get into kombucha without overwhelming your tastebuds. Adding frozen blueberries (credit to Auntie Linda!) makes it even more delicious and a festive alternative to alcohol.
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is basically fermented sweetened black tea. The good little probiotics in kombucha help support your own microbiota, the tens of trillion little bacteria that live in your gut who do everything from aid with digestion to making brain neurotransmitters. Eating fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and natto are one of the best ways to get probiotics in the diet.
What about sugar?
Kombucha can be a really healthy addition to your diet, but it must be done with care. One huge caveat is looking at the sugar content on the nutrition label. I highly recommend sticking with a kombucha that has 5g or less per 8 ounce serving. GT’s makes kombucha that is tasty and generally lower in sugar, but do your homework here.
When kombucha’s not for you…
If you try fermented foods and they give you digestive woes, then there’s something else going on in your gut. I would recommend seeing your Integrative Medicine doctor to discuss a dysbiosis situation, which is when you have too many bad bacteria. If you have dysbiosis, eating probiotic-rich foods is often like lighter fluid on an already blazing fire…no good!
Organic vs Conventional
A rule of thumb on buying organic: if you eat the peel of the fruit or vegetable, then buying organic is probably important. If you don’t eat the peel (like an avocado), then conventional is fine.
Ingredients for Marleen’s Smoked Salmon Cucumber Bites
1 English cucumber
1 avocado, peeled and de-pitted
½ lime, juiced
3oz package wild smoked salmon, pre-sliced
¼ cup dill, minced
¼ cup chives or scallions, minced
Directions for Cucumber Bites
1. Slice cucumber into ¼” rounds. Spread on a flat surface and sprinkle with a little salt on both sides.
2. Smash avocado with fork and combine with lime juice in a small bowl until creamy, allowing flavors to meld.
3. Mince dill and chives.
4. Slice smoked salmon into small pieces.
5. Blot cucumber rounds with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
6. Assemble the cucumber bites: one cucumber round + smashed avocado + rolled salmon. Garnish with black pepper, chives and dill.
Ingredients for Kombucha Spritzers
Kombucha with <5g sugar per serving
Blueberries, frozen (recommend buying fresh and freezing an hour or two before using)
Directions for Kombucha Spritzers
1. Combine equal parts kombucha and seltzer (change ratio as needed for your taste buds).
2. Add a few frozen bluebberies.