Wonderful Watercress

Watercress is the salad green that bites back – and takes a big bite out of cancer threats. With sky-high levels of cancer-fighting compounds, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinole, and three times more vitamin C (15 mg) than a whole cup of raisins, it’s a great substitute for the basil in your favorite pesto recipe. It also delivers a few healthy nudges of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Oh, and did we mention that it contains absolutely no fat and only 4 calories per cup?

Selecting and Storing
Usually sold in bunches, look for dark green sprigs with crisp stems. Pass up limp, withered leaves with brown or yellow edges or dark, slimy spots. Once past its prime, it’s really a goner; there is no way to restore watercress’ crispy freshness.

To clean, trim roots from bunch; hold by stems and swish around in a large bowl of cool water to remove grit. Empty bowl and repeat process. Dry in a spinner or between paper towels. To store, wrap layers of leaves in paper towels and refrigerate in the crisper drawer in a plastic bag; use within two days.

trim the crusts from two slices multigrain bread and spread both lightly with nonfat cream cheese. Pile 1/2 cup watercress on one side; top with other slice. Cut into delicate quarters for afternoon tea. True Brit.

Ad watercress to any salad: chicken, potato or just plain tossed. It’ll be love at first peppery bite. But for a different spin: combine 2 cups watercress with 1 can rinsed, drained chickpeas, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes and 4 chopped scallions; dress with 1 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. oregano, 1/4 tsp. dry mustard and 1 lg. clove garlic, minced.

Serve chicken or fish on a plush, crunchy bed of watercress. Or make a sauce for either by pureeing equal amounts of watercress and nonfat yogurt and a pinch of nutmeg.

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