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Cucumber salad is perfectly suited for summer

| Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When it comes to nutrition, are you keeping current?

Take the 5-a-Day message. A catchy slogan, it was scrapped three years ago when new recommendations pushed the number of servings closer to 10 a day, depending on your age, gender and physical activity.

"It's important to remember all forms of fruits and vegetables count. You want to include fresh, frozen, dried, canned and 100 percent fruit juice," says Jill Le Brasseur, communications specialist for Produce for Better Health .

The Southwest Cucumber Salad combines fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions and jalapeno with canned organic black beans and Mexicorn, a convenient canned mixture of corn, sweet bell peppers, onion and seasonings.

For this recipe, you'll want to leave the cucumber skin on, because it's the part that contains the most vitamins. But avoid cucumbers that have been waxed. Instead, buy organic, hothouse or conventionally grown cucumbers that have been shrink-wrapped to seal in moisture.

It pays to read labels: We tested this recipe with Best Choice Clearly Organic black beans, which were significantly lower in sodium than other brands.

This salad can be made several hours ahead and refrigerated. Serve it as a side salad, with chips or as an accompaniment with grilled meats.

Southwest Cucumber Salad

• 2 cups diced cucumber (about 1 large), do not peel

• 1 cup diced tomatoes (about 2 medium)

• 1/2 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts (about 4 to 5)

• 1 medium-size jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced

• 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

• 1 can (11 ounces) Mexicorn, drained

• 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

• 3 tablespoons cider vinegar

• 1 lime, juiced

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 1 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1/2 teaspoon chile powder

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, jalapeno, black beans and Mexicorn in a large mixing bowl; toss to combine. Gently stir in the diced avocado.

Whisk together the cider vinegar, lime juice, garlic, cumin and chile powder. Add the olive oil in a stream and continue whisking. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to combine.

Makes 16 servings

Nutrition information per ( 1/2 cup) serving : 71 calories (26 percent from fat), 3 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 2 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams dietary fiber, 128 milligrams sodium.

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