The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

celery with peanut butter and smoked paprika

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For many of us, as we head into the new year, this is a time for resolutions. One of the most common involves “doing something” about our diet.

I’m not a fan of diets, not least because so much of the diet industry is owned by the same food industry that makes us fat in the first place (for example, Slimfast is owned by Unilever, Lean Cuisine is owned by Nestle and Weightwatchers is part-owned by Heinz).

However, there is one dietary regime that makes a lot of sense to me. This is the so-called 5:2 diet, where on two days per week you eat significantly less calories than the other five days. Very simply, the logic underpinning the diet is that on those two “lean” days you start to use up your body’s fat reserves to make up for the lack of calories being eaten.

The fact is that our bodies have not had time to adapt to the rapid changes in our diet. We are pretty much genetically identical to our palaeolithic ancestors, with the same basic digestive system, but our diet is drastically different. 80% of the food now found on supermarket shelves didn’t exist 100 years ago, and back then conditions like diabetes were relatively rare.

Those hunter-gatherer ancestors of ours would have relied upon hunting and foraging for their food in a world where the availability of food would have been dictated by seasonal shortages and abundances. As in the 5:2 diet, on lean days they would simply have gone hungry, whilst on other days they could feast.

It isn’t simply our digestive system that hasn’t adapted to the modern diet: our brains haven’t either. We still eat as if tomorrow might be one of those “lean” days. Except, of course, that for most of us it never is. The result is that we eat too much, and amongst the consequences of our overindulgence are weight gain, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and a host of other chronic conditions.

Everything around us seems designed to help stave off the spectre of those ancestral lean days. Part of the allure of the supermarket is the availability of so much food all in one place. Travelling up and down the aisles picking products from high and low shelves, we are like ghostly echoes of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

For me, any dietary regime which causes us to think about and appreciate our food, and which is in tune with the natural and historical rhythms of the human body must have something going for it. I’m not planning to follow a new dietary regime in the new year, but if I was, this would be the one.

Finally, I would like to thank you for reading and following this blog, and I wish you a happy new year!

This week’s recipe is quick, light and delicious, and is my go-to healthy snack. It very easy, taking just a few minutes to put together but, wow, does it taste good!

I’ve left out the quantities from the recipe because they are so easy to put together and you can be the judge of how many you want to make (unless, of course, you’re on a “lean” day).

celery with peanut butter and smoked paprika


organic celery
organic peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
smoked paprika


1. Break the celery into sticks. Wash and then use a vegetable peeler on the ridged outer surface, gently paring it down until smooth (this removes the irritating stringy parts). Cut the sticks into 3-4 cm lengths.

2. Use a knife to fill the groove of the celery pieces with peanut butter. Sprinkle a pinch of paprika over each one. And that’s it!

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, raw, vegan

Tags: ,

24 replies

  1. Sounds like a great combination

  2. At last a recipe I can follow!
    I must admit that I seldom make up your recipes because I am old, only cook for myself and live on a shoe string. But I read your commentary with increasing interest. The fact that the major food companies own the major diet companies is another thing that needs shouting from roof tops.
    Thanks for a great year.

  3. Hi, interested in your take on the 5:2 diet as I did it for a year and lost nothing. Interestingly, an osteopath I use said that other women he knows have had the same results as I did.

    • Hi Susan and many thanks for your comments. I wrote this post without personal experience of the 5:2 diet and I am not an advocate of that regime but I have been convinced by the logic behind it. It is hard to understand how reducing your overall food intake would have no effect on your overall weight. Steve

  4. Happy New Year to you too, Steve. Hugs

  5. I loathe the word ‘diet’ have looked with slightly jaundiced eyes at the [5:2] one but respect your thinking too much not to go back to read this another time 🙂 ! Methinks I just have lighter days after having indulged on some! But doctor gfs have been successful and, yes, guess what one of my NY resolutions is!!! Have made these sticks before and think they are yum!!!! Happy New Year Steve and thanks a million . . .

  6. I’ve always been a sucker for celery and peanut butter. Never thought to add smoked paprika. I have everything on hand. Thanks.

  7. Looks tasty

  8. I 100% agree with every word of this. What makes me maddest is the joint child-catchers of Supermarkets and Advertisers who make it so hard for so many to resist the lure of what is fundamentally a thoroughly unhealthy diet and then, when someone is told by a doctor or the mirror that they are actually killing themselves, their heads are turned by diet products most of which are equally unhealthy. What is needed is education. My very fit and healthy until his last illness uncle was an advocate of moderation in all things. I believe that food should be eaten as little processed as possible but if I want a guilty pleasure then so be it – but make mine a small one! The idea of smoked paprika in peanut butter is hugely beguiling and with a celery stick – miam miam …. I’m virtually licking the screen!!

    • Thank you, Osyth, for your great comments. It’s true that eating healthily is not an easy or straightforward choice in a world where so much of our food is processed and unhealthy and where food education is so limited. Even worse, the price of the unhealthy stuff is kept artificially low because taxpayers are subsidising its health, environmental and other consequences. If bad food was priced according to its true environmental and social costs, healthy food would suddenly become a better proposition.

  9. This was certainly a flash back to years gone by when my packed “snack” for school was celery filled with peanut butter (minus the smoked paprika). I haven’t thought about this in (numerous) decades, but now you’ve posted it and I can clearly remember loving the contrast between the creamy-sweet-salty peanut butter and the crunch of the celery. Must try it with smoked paprika. Sounds very good with the added bonus of being healthy.

  10. Fresh, tasty and healthy snack! 😀

  11. Even though I don’t like raw celery that much I think I am gonna give your recipe a chance! 😊


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