Spring is the time of year when salads become more than a side dish. With or without lean meats, eggs, or low-fat cheese, all the lovely spring produce available at this time of year only have to be cut up and tossed together in a bowl with a dressing.

Health experts recommend eating a minimum of 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Start the day with a glass of orange juice and sliced fruit on your whole-grain cereal, and you'll already have two down. At lunch, eat a salad (on the side or as a main dish), or add green, leafy lettuce and a few slices of tomato to your sandwich. Eat an apple or other fruit for dessert, and you'll have reached number five. For dinner, add a cooked vegetable, a small green salad and a piece of fruit and you'll have hit number eight. To reach 10 servings, snack between meals on fruit or raw vegetables with salsa or low fat dressing.

A salad of broccoli, tomatoes and watercress is a nutritional gold mine. And to make life easier, you can now buy cut and pre-washed broccoli and other vegetables ready to toss in your salad. In addition to being high in fiber, vitamins A and C, folate and potassium, broccoli also contains sulphorophane, a cancer-fighting substance. Research indicates that broccoli and other members of the cruciferous vegetable family � including cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower � can help ward off cancer.

Iceberg lettuce has been called "crunchy water" by scientists who have analyzed its nutritional value. A little iceberg lettuce can add some "crunch" to sandwiches and burgers, but far better for salads are dark, leafy greens which are rich in one of the most effective cancer-prevention substances, sulphorophane. Watercress, spinach, chard, collards and arugula give great taste as well as great nutritional punch. Then, add other vegetables for color as well as health benefits � carrots, red, orange or yellow bell pepper, red cabbage and tomatoes.

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Cherry tomatoes offer great color contrast in your leafy green salad, with a minimum of preparation time. Tomatoes are red because they contain a high amount of a health-protecting phytochemical called lycopene, which has strong anti-cancer properties. Like oranges and peppers, tomatoes also contain plenty of vitamin C.

Broccoli, Cherry Tomato and Watercress Salad

Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, stems removed
  • 1 bunch watercress, long stems trimmed, coarsely chopped and cut in half
  • 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  • Cook broccoli in a steamer or in a microwave oven (covered with a wet paper towel), until tender but still crisp.
  • In a large bowl, mix together broccoli, tomatoes and watercress. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and black pepper. Drizzle over vegetables and toss to blend. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
30 calories,
2 g. total fat (0 g. saturated fat),
3 g. carbohydrate,
1 g. protein,
1 g. dietary fiber,
12 mg. sodium.

Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Vegetable, 1/2 Fat


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