NC’s Seasonal Sensation – Watermelon Recipes

With blistering temperatures scalding the Triangle Area, I’m left to wonder if there’s a cool day in sight. While we hazily dream about crisp fall weather, let’s take a break from the scorching heat with refreshing recipes sure to quench your thirst for cooler days. This month, I put my nutrition know-how to the test to create tasty and healthy recipes featuring August’s most abundant crop, the watermelon.

Water, Water Everywhere
No fruit says summer like the watermelon, and that’s probably because it’s nearly 92 percent water. In fact, a 1½ cup serving of watermelon provides practically an entire eight-ounce glass of water. And there’s more – watermelon offers tons of vitamin C (25 percent of your daily intake to be exact), vitamins A and B6, and is loaded in beta-carotene and lycopene, all important antioxidants known to cut the risk of cardiovascular disease and reduce inflammation from conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer and arthritis.

Selecting the best melon
When choosing a watermelon, don’t just give it the tap test. That hollow thump doesn’t always indicate freshness. Be sure to select a melon with even sides and avoid flat or uneven varieties. Most likely, these guys sat in the back of the farm truck too long.  Also, go for the melon with a yellow bottom, not greenish white, and especially not one with a green stem attached.

Watermelon Recipes
This month’s NC No-Diet Diet recipes are just the beginning of what you can do with watermelons. From heart healthy watermelon soup, grilled watermelon with basil, roasted watermelon seeds, watermelon smoothies and parfaits, the USDA’s website choosemyplate.gov lists tons of healthy recipes featuring this water-logged sensation. And be sure to try the recipes posted today – tomato and watermelon salad and watermelon lemonade, my favorite low cal beverage of the summer. Cheers to North Carolina’s Seasonal Sensation, the watermelon!

Watermelon Lemonade
Serves 4
Extra watermelon?  Use it for this recipe. Cube leftovers and freeze for this thirst-quenching take on classic lemonade. 
6 cups cubed seedless watermelon
¼ cup frozen light lemonade (concentrate)
1 cup seltzer water
Arrange watermelon on a baking sheet and freeze. Combine watermelon, lemonade and seltzer in a blender and blend until thick and smooth. Pour into a chilled glass and serve.
Per Serving:
65 calories; 0.2 g fat; 2 mg sodium; 12 g carbohydrates; 9.5 g sugar

Tomato & Watermelon Salad
Serves 5
When paired with the tomato, another seasonal sensation well known for its lycopene superpowers, the watermelon takes on a sweet and savory tang, like in this tomato, watermelon salad generously provided by the Urban Food Group in WakeMed’s 2008 Dish It Up Cookbook.
3 large tomatoes, diced into large pieces
1/2 baby watermelon, diced into large pieces
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 small red onions, julienne (chopped into long thin pieces)
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/2 head flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (use more for added flavor)
1/4 cup honey (omit the honey to cut the amount of sugar and carbs)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper 
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Per Serving: 254 calories; 10.8g fat; 1.5g saturated fat; 1.2g polyunsaturated fat; 8g monounsaturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 14.6mg sodium; 69g carbohydrates; 3.5g fiber; 61g sugar; 3.4g protein

Amy Bowen, RD, LDN, is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed Cary Hospital

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