Cucumbers ripen on the vine just as the mercury begins to climb.
"One of the main reasons I encourage people to choose cucumbers, especially in the summer, is their water content," says Chrissy Wellington-Garner, LDN, a nutritionist at Canyon Ranch resort and spa in Lenox, MA.
It's no substitute for a glass of water, but a crisp cucumber is still "one of the most hydrating foods out there," she says. A half cup of fresh cucumber has just 8 calories and a modest dose of immune-building vitamin C. Cucumbers also contain plant chemicals called lignans and cucurbitacins. Those may reduce cancer and heart disease risk, research suggests.
These sandwiches make a lovely lunch. To punch up the flavor, try jarred horseradish sauce or wasabi paste in place of mayonnaise. If you need to restrict how much sodium you eat, use baked or poached salmon instead of smoked salmon.
Cucumber-Salmon Open-Faced Sandwiches
Makes 6 servings
4 hard-boiled eggs
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
(plus more for garnish)
dash kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
6 slices rye, pumpernickel, or whole-grain bread
1/2 bunch watercress, washed, with stems removed
6 (2-oz) slices smoked salmon
1 English cucumber, sliced
1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
1. In a small bowl, combine eggs, mustard, mayonnaise, dill, salt, and pepper and mash to combine.
2. Arrange six slices of bread on work surface. Spread egg salad mixture on each slice. Top with watercress, salmon, and cucumber slices. Garnish each open-faced sandwich with lemon zest and fresh dill sprigs. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 276 calories, 21 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 184 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 554 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 37%
This cool vegetarian soup gives you delicious relief on a steamy summer day. Try it for lunch with a crusty whole wheat roll or as a starter for dinner. Peel and chop the avocado just before serving to prevent browning.
Creamy Cucumber Soup With Avocado
Makes 4–6 servings
2 large cucumbers, seeded and chopped
2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (plus a few sprigs for garnish)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
White pepper to taste
2 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped (prepare just before serving)
1. Place cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, mint, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
2. Refrigerate 3–4 hours. Spoon soup into chilled bowls. Garnish with scallions, a drizzle of olive oil, avocado, and a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.
Per serving (based on 4 servings): 194 calories, 14 g protein, 17 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 4 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 355 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 39%