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Food of the Month: Watermelon

Watermelon is a summer picnic staple. It’s juicy and thirst-quenching, and the seeds make for fun games. But did you know there are a lot more reasons to eat watermelon?

Powerful Antioxidant

Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of vitamin A, particularly through its concentration of beta-carotene. These antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals that can lead to inflammation, general sickness and chronic illnesses such as stroke and heart attack.

Fights Cancer

The beautiful pink color of watermelon, due to beta-carotene, is a powerful ally against many types of cancer, particularly colon cancer. Lycopene, a carotenoid found in abundance in watermelon provides additional cancer fighting health benefits. Watermelon contains higher concentrations of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable.

Electrolyte Replenishment

Watermelon is rich in the electrolytes sodium and potassium, which we lose through perspiration.

High Energy

Food experts recommend watermelon as a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin B1 and magnesium, which are necessary for energy production.

Cool Down

Watermelon has a special cooling effect and is exceptionally high in citrulline, an amino acid that our bodies use to make another amino acid, arginine, which is used in the urea cycle to remove ammonia from the body.

Overall Health

Watermelon is a good source of thiamin, potassium and magnesium, which protect our body from so many diseases.

A Healthy Snack

One wedge of watermelon has 86 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, no cholesterol, and less than 1% of your daily value of sodium. It provides you with 22 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein, and 5% of your daily value of fiber. With 18 grams of sugar, watermelon is a great way to curb a sugar craving.



Tips for Selecting and Storing Watermelon

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Selection:

  • Skin should be brightly colored and not too shiny or dull
  • Look for watermelons that are evenly shaped with no bruises, cracks, or soft spots.
  • Select watermelons that are heavy for their size; they tend to be juicier.
  • Watermelons don’t ripen much after they are picked. Look for a firm underside with a yellowish color—if it is white or green, the melon is not yet mature.

Storage:

  • A whole watermelon keeps in the refrigerator up to a week
  • Cut watermelon should be eaten as soon as possible. The flesh deteriorates rapidly, taking on an unappetizing slimy texture.
  • Once picked, watermelon will not ripen easily. If unripe, try putting the whole melon in paper bag un-refrigerated.



Serving Suggestions

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  • Combine watermelon, cucumber and cantaloupe for a summer salad.
  • Puree watermelon and place in popsicle molds. Freeze until you have refreshing melon-pops.
  • Combine kiwi, lime juice and watermelon in blender. Drink watermelon to enjoy the nutritional benefits when you don’t have time to eat them.
  • Puree watermelon, kiwi and cantaloupe and mix with Greek yogurt for a summer gazpacho.
  • When the heat of summer tires us with thirst, eating watermelon is a safe alternative to taking energy drinks. Its high water content can hydrates us whereas caffeine-filled energy drinks can easily dehydrate. Nothing can be more satisfactory on a hot, dusty day than a crisp, juicy slice of watermelon!



Recipes



Watermelon Gazpacho

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Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

Serves:

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large tomato, pureed
  • 1/2 serrano chile
  • 2 cups cubed fresh watermelon
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

In a blender, puree the tomatoes, chile, and 1/2 of the watermelon. Pour in the red wine vinegar and olive oil and pulse. Add the onion, cucumber and dill and season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour into chilled bowls and sprinkle with dill, feta, and remaining watermelon. Serve.

Caribbean Watermelon Salsa

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Makes 8 servings.

  • 2 cups Watermelon, chopped and seeded
  • 1 cup Pineapple (fresh), chopped
  • 1 cup Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro (chopped fresh)
  • 1/4 cup Orange juice
  • 1–2 Tbsp. Jerk seasoning, or to taste
  • In large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Refrigerate, covered, at least one hour to blend flavors.

    Stir before serving.

Watermelon Pico de Gallo

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Makes 12 servings.

  • 4 cups Watermelon, diced and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cups Jicama, diced
  • 1/2 cup Green pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro (chopped fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp. Jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Garlic pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Hot-pepper sauce

In large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well.

Refrigerate, covered, at least one hour to blend flavors.

Stir before serving.

Watermelon and Blue Cheese Salad

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This summertime salad was created by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, owner of Jean Georges in New York City.

Ingredients

  • 24 cube(s) (1 1/4-inch) seedless watermelon, from about a 4- to 5-pound mini seedless watermelon
  • 3 ounce(s) high-quality blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Cracked white pepper, to taste

Directions

Divide watermelon cubes among 4 serving plates. Crumble blue cheese on top and drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve.



Food of the Month Archives

April 2013 – Chia Seeds

May 2013 – Kale

June 2013 – Avocado


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