Refresh with Sweet Watermelon!
- Article Author: Red Jen
Here in Southern California, it seems like we are getting a late start to summer with our “June Gloom” lasting all through July and even seeping into August! However, based on the recent harvests of sweet melons at the farmers markets, it looks like we are in for a late-blooming summer season. What better way to taste the sunshine and beat the summer heat with cool and refreshing watermelon? Did you know that eating watermelon can actually help stave off heat stroke? It reduces your body temperature and blood pressure, so is a great option for a hot and sunny day!
Did you know that red watermelon has even higher concentrations of lycopene than tomatoes do? This carotenoid helps fight cancer and macular degeneration, improves cardiac function, and helps lower cholesterol. Also high in the super anti-oxidant, beta carotene, and a lesser-known phyto-nutrient, citrulline, which purportedly helps to relax blood vessels, watermelon is good for your heart, circulatory and immune systems. Since the citrulline is most concentrated in the rind, you might want to juice your watermelon to get the near Viagra-like effects on the body’s blood vessels! With high concentrations of potassium and magnesium, eating watermelon can also help manage high blood pressure and blood-sugar levels and improve kidney function. Since 99% of its weight is water and roughage, at just under 50 calories for a 1/3 pound serving, watermelon provides serious bang for your bite!
Be sure to use your senses when choosing a watermelon, as they do not ripen any further once they are cut from the vine. To choose a sweet, ripe whole melon, look for a firm, even shape, heavy for its size. Then, turn it over to check that its underside is yellow, and the rind overall has a healthy sheen. Finally, slap it with an open palm and listen for a deep-pitched tone. If buying cut melon, look for a fresh, firm texture, and seeds that are fully mature and hard. Store uncut watermelon at room temperature for up to two weeks, and refrigerate cut watermelon in sealed containers for up to a week.
Because melons grow on the ground, be sure to wash them with warm, soapy water before cutting them open. To enjoy, simply slice into wedges, and refrigerate, so they are chilled and ready when you need some cooling off. Or, juice your watermelon, rind, seeds and all to increase the nutritional value – zinc, iron and good fats from the seeds, fiber and increased citrulline from the rind. I like to add some fresh ginger to mine for a little added zing! And, for lunch or dinner, try an entrée salad of sliced heirloom tomatoes (in season now, too) and watermelon drizzled with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, then topped with fresh chopped mint and basil and crumbled feta; the good fats in the olive oil and cheese help increase the absorption of the anti-aging carotenoids and phytonutrients.
Savor the late summer with these sweet, seasonal ingredients! Good for your heart, body and soul!
Your Fabulous Food tip brought to you by Red Jen Ford, Certified Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Instructor. As Manager of the Westwood Farmers Market, located in the Vets Garden and open Thursdays from Noon to 6 PM, Jen teaches her customers and busy clients the simplicity of eating local, sustainably grown food. Starting with incredibly fresh and tasty ingredients makes putting a healthy meal on the table quick and easy! Learn to savor the season and make small changes to live a fabulous, healthy and more balanced life!