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Beat the Heat with a Watermelon Treat

Summer's Freshest Pick
  -- By Becky Hand
My watermelon memories go way back… 

Thumping and selecting the perfect melon at the local produce stand, chilling it to perfection, slicing a big wedge and devouring the dark, juicy fruit, and wiping the excess juice from my chin with the sleeve of my t-shirt. And of course, who could resist the seed-spitting contest? Talk about childhood fun! 

Health Benefits 
Most people agree that eating watermelon is one of the best summer activities. However, you may be surprised to learn that such a sweet treat is equally beneficial to your health. The antioxidant lycopene is a plant chemical that gives certain foods (watermelon, tomatoes, red grapefruit, and guava) their red color. Part of the large class of plant compounds called carotenoids, which help protect and preserve body cells from oxidation and damage, lycopene may reduce one’s risk of prostate cancer and protect against heart disease. 

Watermelon Selection & Storage 
Follow these 3 easy steps to choose a perfect melon every time:
  1. Choose a firm, symmetrical fruit that is free of bruises, cuts, and dents.
  2. Pick up the melon, it should feel heavy. (A good watermelon is 92% water.)
  3. The underside should have a creamy yellow spot where the melon sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
Compared to most fruits, watermelon should be stored at a warmer temperature—about 55 degrees Fahrenheit—since temperatures too low can cause chill damage. After 2 days at 32 degrees, the flavor will be “off,” and the melon will lose color and become pitted. Whole melons will keep for 7-10 days at room temperature. Once a melon is cut, it should be wrapped and stored at 37-39 degrees Fahrenheit. <pagebreak>

Watermelon-Strawberry Smoothie
1 – 1 ½ cups seeded watermelon, diced 
1 cup lemon sorbet or sherbet 
8 frozen whole strawberries 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. 
Makes two 1-cup servings.

Watermelon Parfait 
1/2 cup low fat granola 
1 cup seedless watermelon, cut into small chunks 
1 6-ounce carton of low fat vanilla yogurt 
1 banana, sliced
Almond slivers 
In 2 tall glasses, layer the following: 
Layer 1: granola 
Layer 2: watermelon 
Layer 3: yogurt 
Layer 4: banana slices
Repeat Layers 1-4.
Garnish with slivered almonds.
Makes two servings.