Wild About Watermelon

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.meijerhealthyliving.com

 

Tina Miller 2011July is national watermelon month.  On average, we eat about 16 pounds of watermelon per person every year, making watermelon the most popular melon in the U.S.  Watermelon is refreshing and affordable with an average cost of just $0.14 per 1 cup serving during the peak summer months.

Whole watermelons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature usually beyond this they’ll lose flavor and texture. Wash melon prior to slicing under cool running water to prevent the watermelon flesh from possible contamination from any bacteria from soil that might be lurking on the rind. Cut melon (slices, spears, cubes or cut into fun shapes) will keep well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Selecting a Ripe Watermelon

• Look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.

• Lift it up; the watermelon should be heavy for its size.

• Turn it over, the underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. This ground spot should not be white or sunny bright yellow, but the color of butter,

Watermelon contains a wide variety of nutrient benefits:

• It is an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant nutrient which aids in the maintenance of normal connective tissues, promotes wound healing and supports immune health.

• Watermelon is also an excellent source of vitamin A, important for optimal eye health and to support immune health.

• Watermelon is also considered a good source of two energizing B-vitamins, B6 (pyridoxine) and B1 (thiamin), which play a role in metabolism and nervous system function.

• Watermelon also provides a source of the mineral potassium, which is necessary for water balance and healthy blood pressure.

• Most notably, watermelon is considered the “lycopene leader” among fresh produce; lycopene is an antioxidant which provides the rich red color to watermelon and has been studied for a potential role in reducing risk of heart disease, various cancers and protection to skin from harmful UV rays (a form of edible sunscreen!).

• One cup of watermelon has approximately 40 calories, and has the most nutrition per calorie of common foods. A perfect food if you are trying to control your weight.

• Watermelon is considered a great thirst-quencher as it is over 90 percent water.

Where do Seedless Watermelons Come From?

According to the National Watermelon Promotion seedless watermelons were invented over 50 years ago, and they have few or no seeds.  Seedless melons are free of mature seeds, the black ones. Oftentimes, the white seed coats where a seed did not mature are assumed to be seeds. But this isn’t the case! They are perfectly safe to swallow while eating, and don’t worry – no seeds will grow in your stomach.

The seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid, the result of crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds. This is similar to the mule, produced by crossing a horse with a donkey. This process does not involve genetic modification.

Content adapted from Watermelon.org

Watermelon Recipes:

For fun and simple watermelon carving instructions, visit www.watermelon.org and click on the “cravings and entertaining” link.

Mediterranean Watermelon Salad

Serves 6

6 cups torn mixed salad greens

3 cups cubed seeded watermelon

1/2 cup sliced red onion

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 tablespoon Meijer extra virgin olive oil

Cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In large bowl, mix all ingredients except oil and pepper.
  2. Just before serving, toss salad mixture with oil. Garnish with pepper.

 

Watermelon Kabobs

These kabobs are a great snack, appetizer or light lunch on a hot summer day.

Serves 6

18 1-inch cubes of seedless watermelon

• 6 cubes of smoked turkey breast

• 6 cubes of low-fat cheddar cheese

• 6 coffee stirrers or beverage straws

Directions:

  1. Thread cubed watermelon, turkey and cheese on skewer on stirrers or straws, alternating watermelon cubes between meat and cheese.
  2. Serve cold.

 

Watermelon Salsa

Excellent as a dip or a refreshing topping for grilled fish.

Makes 6 (1/2 cup) servings

Ingredients:

3 cups seeded and chopped watermelon

1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon finely sliced green onions

2 tablespoons seeded and finely chopped jalapeño peppers

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients; mix well and cover.
  2. Refrigerate 1 hour or more.

 

Watermelon Slushy

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

4 cups cubed and seeded watermelon

4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

4 cups ice cubes

Fresh mint for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. In blender combine watermelon, strawberries, sugar and lemon juice; cover and blend on high until smooth.
  2. Gradually add ice cubes and blend on high until slushy. Use as many ice cubes as needed to achieve desired consistency.
  3. Pour into chilled glasses and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh mint sprig if desired.

Nutrition Information (per serving):  Calories 93, Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 1mg, Carbohydrates 24g, Fiber 2g, Protein 1g.

Recipe Source: www.meijermealbox.com, tryfoods international.

 

 

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Author:Tina Miller

Tina is a Meijer Dietitian and Healthy Living Advisor for East Michigan and Northern Ohio. With over 20 years of experience as a registered dietitian, her goals include providing you with simple steps to achieve and maintain good health, menus and recipes that are easy and enjoyable, and sound nutrition advice that is based on current and credible research.

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