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Cooking With Superfoods: Recipes for Watercress

Fitday Editor

Have you ever wondered what makes a superfood so super? Recently a Times article revealed the top 41 superfoods ranked by nutrients per serving. The research, performed by associate professor of sociology at William Patterson University, Dr. Jennifer Di Noia, was reported in Preventing Chronic Disease, literature from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and you just might be surprised at where some of your favorite healthy veggies fall on the list.

It turns out that among all the tested vegetables, watercress came out the clear winner. When measured for the key nutrients--potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K--watercress had 100 percent of the daily value per 100 calories. That makes this cruciferous wonder a nutritional powerhouse.

Watercress is a leafy, sprout vegetable that has a peppery, slightly bitter flavor profile, much like arugula, but not quite as bitter as dandelion greens. Bitter foods have a wonderful effect on our digestion by stimulating our gastric juices, and on the tongues, bitter taste helps increase bile flow and enzyme production. Together, this means we can better digest our food and absorb more nutrients, while producing less tummy-aching variables like gas and bloating.

How can you incorporate watercress into your diet and reap all the good-for-you rewards of this superfood? It's easy. Below are two simple recipes that include watercress, which have both leaves and tender stems that can be enjoyed. Give them a try, and see how delicious this nutrient-dense leafy green can be.

Lentil, Quinoa and Watercress Salad

Serves 6

This protein rich salad is balanced with peppery watercress and crisp cucumbers. It's a great weekday dinner and can even serve as a filling lunch on the go.


1 cup cooked and cooled lentils
1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
3 cups watercress, rinsed, patted dry and separated from roots
1 cup roughly chopped cucumber
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 ripe avocado, cubed

For the Dressing:

¾ cup olive oil
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 large clove raw garlic
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper


In a large bowl, mix the cooked lentils and quinoa together until combined.

Toss in the watercress, cucumber, tomato and avocado.

In a blender, combine the olive oil, Greek yogurt, basil leaves, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.

Divide the salad onto six plates.

Lightly drizzle the dressing over the salad.

Serve at room temperature or cold.

Watercress Pesto
Serves 6

This slightly peppery pesto is a great sauce for pasta, pizza, or as a crudités dip for vegetables.


3 cups watercress, washed, patted dry and roots removed
1 cup basil leaves
2 cloves raw garlic, peeled
½ cup pine nuts or walnuts
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil


Combine the watercress, basil, garlic, nuts, and salt in a food processor or blender.

Pulse until the mixture just comes together.

Add the Parmesan cheese to the food processor.

Pulse while slowly drizzling in the olive oil.

Continue until mixture fully combines and has the consistency of thick yogurt.

Serve room temperature or cold.

Can be frozen for up to six months safely.


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Bryanne Salazar is a freelance writer and editor, a contributing author for the website What the Flicka?, and a food-meets-culture blogger living in Southern California. Her blog, Bryanne Bites the World documents her explorations of various ethnic communities and food cultures across the United States. Bryanne has a degree in English focused on creative writing, and loves to pen short stories in her spare time. She is also an advocate for women and girls worldwide, the mother of two teenage boys, and the wife of an active duty United States Marine. You can follow Bryanne on Twitter and Facebook to see what she's working on next.

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