Sometimes you just want a freebie—something you can chew on for next to no calories.

Enter mini cucumbers. It’s said that these compact cukes (sometimes called Persian cucumbers) got their start in the late 1930s, when breeders crossed Middle-Eastern cucumbers with Indian, Japanese, Chinese, American, English, and Dutch varieties to make them more resilient to disease.

Cucumbers may not compare to, say, leafy greens in the nutrient department. But—repeat after us—all veggies are good veggies.

At 10 calories a pop, the minis are a handy answer to that age-old question: “What’s a portable, healthy snack?” Bonus: like most mini veggies, their flavor is a tad more intense than their larger brethren’s.

Fun fact: cucumbers are about 95 percent water. No wonder they’re so refreshing.

So if you want to feel, shall we say, cool as a cucumber, pack a handful of crisp mini cukes in your lunch box or glove compartment or backpack. No need to peel off their thin skin.

Of course, mini cucumbers have their place in the kitchen as well. Try a green salad with lettuce, cucumbers, and avocado tossed with a sesame vinaigrette. Or cut them into a chicken, shrimp, or tuna salad (instant crunch). Or slice them into sticks and eat with hummus or yogurt dip. They’re also a gotta-have ingredient in gazpacho.

Cucumbers are great year round, but their peak season is summer...just when you need them most.

Photo: Jolene Mafnas/CSPI.