I’m exercising my monthly wild card today. Technically, it’s actually National Molasses Bar Day. What’s a Molasses Bar you ask?  Remember National Blonde Brownie Day? Yeah, well it’s basically that with molasses and ginger – so like gingerbread fudge with icing. Probably delicious, but here’s the thing. It was just Superbowl weekend (Yeah Saints!!!!) which means we just ate an excessive amount of really fatty bad for us food while sitting on our asses for 4 solid hours (probably more). My ass did not need me to make molasses bars. My thighs begged me not to. So instead I am choosing today to Shape Up With Pickles (noting, of course, that we have just concluded the official Shape Up With Pickles Week). What better way to recover from the gluttony of Superbowl than with a pickle diet?

Pickles, if you will recall from National Pickle Day, are one of my favorite foods.  Oops.  Maybe I should feel guilty for taking two pickle blogs.  Whatever. It just goes to show the extent of my dedication to these briny beauties. I certainly consider them to be one of nature’s perfect foods (ok, not exactly nature but whatever). And they are absolutely FAT FREE.  Which is why you can use them to “shape up” with. I remember when I did weightwatchers once (or several times) and discovered that pickles are zero points.  That’s right.  Zero. Look at the labels on my Bick’s jars. See that? NO FAT.

So what that almost any pickle you eat is likely to have more than your monthly allowance of sodium in one bite. It’s got no fat and it’s a vegetable so it’s got fiber and vitamins and stuff. It’s good for you. This article says so. I actually googled “pickle diet” to see what would happen.  I found a lot of crazy stuff, like the poopreport and people who bragged about losing 30 pounds eating pickles and drinking pickle juice. I suppose anything’s possible.

Here is my favorite Pickle recipe book:Actually, it’s my favorite book for preserving anything. It’s brilliant. If you like preserving, I highly recommend it. On p. 130, you will find the best recipe for Pickled Beans. On p. 123, you will find the best recipe for the classic dill pickle. On p. 152, you will find … you get the picture. Not only is it full of great recipes, but it is also full of great “how-to” information on the whole preserving process, from hot water canning to microwave preserving to freezer jams. It’s my pickle bible.

Here are some of the pickles I have made using the recipes in this book:All kidding aside, it appears that there is growing consensus about the health benefits of pickles generally.  I found an article from the BBC which sums up the history of pickles and all the different kinds of pickles quite neatly. The claims in this article were corroborated by many others I found by googling “pickles health”.  And I believe everything I read on the internet. If you don’t feel like buying my recommended reading (the book above) you can go to this article to get enlightened. But, for my parting shot, I leave with this quote from that article which sums it all up quite nicely:

Although some may be put off by the role of salt in the pickling process, pickles need not be regarded as unhealthy. There is considerable controversy over whether reasonable levels of dietary salt are harmful to all, or only to those pre-disposed towards cardiovascular disease. In any case, life is short, and we may as well get some pleasure while we’re here.

In fact, there is increasing interest in the potential health benefits of pickles. The most obvious benefit, especially in undeveloped economies, is that pickling fruit and vegetables allows crops to be preserved to supply a valuable source of vitamins over the scarce winter months.

There is also some evidence that pickles can promote digestive health and lower cholesterol. All manner of claims have been made for kimchi as a preventative for diabetes, cancer and even SARS.

Just as importantly – tasty food promotes well-being and contributes to a healthy and happy life. Eat pickles and enjoy!