Finding A Good Celery Substitute – Over 30 Substitutions You Can Use To Make Your Recipes Taste Great.
by Lisa Hugh MSHS RD LDN CLT
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Celery has been a staple vegetable for some time. It is commonly used in cooking and is on just about every veggie tray at the grocery store. Recently though, celery has gone from rather boring to pretty popular.
In my practice, lots of patients are asking about the health benefits of celery juice and if they should be incorporating this into their daily routines. Even though there are a lot of celery benefits, it is not a food that everybody can eat.
If you can’t eat celery (or don’t want to eat celery), keep reading to find out about finding a good celery substitute. Even if you like celery, but ran out and need a celery substitution, the information in this post can help. You'll learn what celery is, how it is used in cooking and meals, and how to find a good substitution for whatever food you are preparing.
What Is Celery?
Celery is a vegetable that grows in marshlands. It has been cultivated in many countries and used as a food, seasoning, and in herbal medicine. Celery grows in bunches of straight stalks topped with leaves.
In America, we are most familiar with the Pascal variety of celery. Celeriac is more common in Europe. While similar to celery, the root is the main edible part. Other types of celery, such as wild celery, are common in other regions.
Celery is a member of the Parsley (Umbelliferae) food family. Other members of this food family include anise, caraway, carrot, celeriac, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, parsley, cilantro, chervil, and lovage.
Celery In Cooking
Celery leaves, celery stalks, celery spice, and celery seeds are used in cooking in many ways including:
Can You Be Allergic to Celery?
The short answer is definitely yes. It is possible to be allergic to any food. Celery is not considered as a common allergen in the US but it is more common in Europe. Celery allergy is associated with birch pollen allergy and mugwort pollen allergy.
Symptoms of celery (and celeriac) allergy include tingling of the mouth, difficulty breathing, digestive symptoms, and anaphylactic shock. Because celery and celeriac are so closely related, strict avoidance of both foods is recommended if an allergy is known or suspected.
(If you have or suspect you have any food allergy, you should definitely talk to your healthcare provider to see if allergy testing is needed and to discuss a safety plan including an epi-pen.)
Celery may also need to be avoided for other reasons. Some people have a food sensitivity to celery. (A food sensitivity involves the immune system but not IgE cells as in classic food allergies. Generally speaking, food sensitivity reactions involve white blood cells.)
Also, some people have a food intolerance to celery. (Food intolerances can be caused by digestive problems and generally don’t involve the immune system.)
Common and Hidden Sources of Celery
In the European Union, food labels must clearly identify if celery is present. However, it may not be clearly identified on American labels and menus. If celery makes you sick, please be careful with these foods that may contain hidden sources of celery:
How To Find A Celery Substitute – Substitution Based On Characteristics
Because celery is used in a variety of ways, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all substitution. To find the best option, think about the characteristics of celery and how it is used in a recipe.
Four main characteristics of celery:
1. Crunch – Celery adds crunch to tuna salad and is a crunchy side when served with chicken wings.
2. Color – Celery adds color to salads, stir-fries, and other dishes.
3. Flavor and Texture – Celery is prominent in many bases of many foods such as soups, stews and sauces.
4. Seasoning - Celery seeds add a pleasant flavor to many dishes.
So, when looking at a recipe that includes celery, thinking about why the celery is included will give us an indication of what will be a good substitute.
If you need crunch, you can try these for a raw celery substitute.
If you need texture and flavor, you can try these for a healthy celery alternative.
If you need a green vegetable as a celery replacement:
If you need flavor and seasoning you can try these as a celery seed and/or celery salt substitute.
When you’re considering what to use as an alternative to celery, also ask yourself these questions:
What do you like?
What do you have at home?
What have you used before?
And, please share your tips in the comments below.
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Written by Lisa Hugh MSHS RD LDN CLT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Certified Leap Therapist (food sensitivity expert).
Do you follow a special diet for food sensitivities, food allergies, digestive disorders or other reasons?
Finding foods you can eat is tough, so I've put together a lot of resources to make life easier.
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They contain ONE food ingredient. (Some contain salt which is usually considered "non reactive".)