Watermelon, the Cool Fruit

watermelon_cool_fruit

 

Watermelon has become synonymous with summer and picnics, and for good reason.  Its refreshing and sweet taste helps to combat the heat and also provides a guilt-free, low maintenance treat for kids and adults alike to enjoy.

Watermelon, however, is so much more that just a highly refreshing summertime treat.  It also has significant health benefits.  Watermelon is a nutrient dense food that provides a high amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for a low amount of calories.  Nutritionally, watermelon is mostly water, about 92%.  Each juicy bite has significant levels of Vitamins A, B6 and C but it’s the lycopene that takes the prize.  Lycopene is a powerful carotenoid antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables a pink or red color and, believe it or not, watermelon is a more concentrated source of lycopene than tomatoes. Lycopene has anti-inflammatory properties, bone health benefits and an ability to neutralize harmful free radicals.  Plus, it can keep you from getting dehydrated on those hot summer days.  Learn more about watermelon here.

Like a gift, you never really know what’s inside or if you will like it until you open it.  But here are some general rules for picking the perfect watermelon:

·      It should be heavy for its size

·      When you thump it, it should sound hollow

·      There should be a creamy yellow spot where the watermelon sat on the ground.  If this spot is white or greenish, your watermelon may have been picked too soon.   

·      Choose a rind that is deep in color and lacks any white streaking

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are packed with flavor and loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  The options for summer sweetness are limitless, but you can trust that this summer treat is nourishing and good for you.  Watermelon is one fruit you’ll have no trouble getting anyone to eat.  It’s the hands-down favorite among kids and adults and it will surely be refreshing on those warm summer days.

WATERMELON, ARUGULA AND TOASTED PINE NUT SALAD

(adapted from Epicurious.com)

Recipe

  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp. Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups cubed and seeded watermelon, drained (from a 2 ½-lb piece, rind discarded)
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups baby arugula (6 oz.) may substitute baby spinach leaves or other preferred mixed greens
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (1 oz.), toasted in a hot dry skillet
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta or preferred cheese. (1 ½ oz.)
  • Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

 

Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, and salt and pepper in a large bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Add drained watermelon, red onion, arugula, and toasted pine nuts; toss to coat, then sprinkle with cheese, pepper, and additional salt to taste.  (Makes 4 servings)