Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Watermelon: The Perfect Summer Fruit

The Egyptians were the first to harvest watermelon, but 5000 years later, Americans have claimed this fruit as their own.  It has become the fruit of American summertime, and for good reason.  While it is a cousin of the cucumber, its sweet taste appeals to young and old.  Watermelon is naturally sodium and fat free, making it an especially great choice for those watching their "swimsuit figures".  It is made up of 92% water and contains electrolytes.  That makes it nature's own Gatorade!
Watermelon contains an amazing amount of good-for-you nutrients and antioxidents.  It's a source of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.  The potassium in this fruit is great for controlling your heart rate and blood pressure, offering protection against heart disease and stroke.  Watermelon is also the "lycopene leader" of fruits and vegetables, that good-for-you, red-colored nutrient found in tomatoes that reduces your risk of cancer and protects against UV rays.  In fact, one serving of watermelon has the same amount of lycopene as two tomatoes!  So choose watermelon as your fruit this summer and feel good about all the ways you are keeping your body healthy!
Selection:  While many people tap the watermelon to see if it's ripe, that is not the best way to select a tasty melon!  What you should look for is a melon that is firm, symmetrical, and heavy for its size.  The "ground spot", the round spot where the watermelon sat on the ground, should be creamy or yellowish; if it is green or white, the melon is not ripe.

How to cut a watermelon:  Click here to learn how!
Storage:  Store whole watermelons at room temperature.  Once it has been cut, refrigerate and use within 5 days.

Grilled Watermelon

What better way to enjoy the summer's perfect fruit than to put it on the grill!  Grilling watermelon adds a bit of smokiness to the fruit, and making it perfect for savory and sweet applications alike.

To grill watermelon, cut into 1"-1.5" thick slices or wedges.  Drizzle both sides with a bit of canola or olive oil, and season both sides to taste.  Grill each side until grill marks develop, about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Try grilled watermelon in salads, served as a side, drizzled with honey for dessert, or put atop ice cream.
Watermelon-Blueberry Salsa 
2C watermelon, diced (may grill, if desired)
1C strawberries, chopped
1/2C blueberries
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 limes, juiced
1 lime, zested
1T honey
1 handful fresh mint, chopped
Salt, to taste
  1. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, and jalapeno.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, and honey.
  3. Drizzle the juice/honey mixture over the fruit.  Stir in the mint.  Season to taste.
  4. Serve the salsa over ice cream or with cinnamon tortilla chips.

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