Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Slimmers: Watermelon







Thirsty for something sweet but trying to drink more water?  The summertime staple - a big slice of watermelon - can satisfy both desires. Watermelons contain 92 percent water so are true to their name. That’s why watermelon is one of the best foods to eat to keep you hydrated on a hot day.  


A sign of the season, watermelon salads are showing up on summer restaurant menus including watermelon with fresh mozzarella, almond mint pesto and green chilies at Two Urban Licks.  At Kyma it’s paired with feta cheese and fresh mint. 

The menu at Parish has featured grilled watermelon with heirloom tomatoes, mint and capers. Watermelon juice makes its way into refreshing cocktails, too.  
Frozen watermelon juice is refreshingly hydrating too. 

Seasons 52 has a recipe for a Watermelon Refresher made with light rum, fresh muddled watermelon and lime juice.
Hydration and Nutrition

Watermelon serves up way more than just water and natural sweetness.  With fewer than fifty calories per cup you can happily chow down on sweet, juicy watermelon during bathing suit season. Watermelon is a healthy choice for snacking too because its high water and fiber content help fill you up without filling you out.  
Summer camp, cookouts, catching fireflies, running in the sprinkler.
Childhood memories made even better when sharing watermelon.

It’s a lot of fun pick up a cold slice of watermelon and bite into summer’s sunny childhood memories so it fits in with modern nutrition advice to take your time while you eat and ‘be in the moment’ instead of mindlessly munching. 

Enjoying two cups of watermelon in chunks, sliced or cute little melon balls gets you a quarter of the way toward dietary advice to consume at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Seeing Red
Its red color is a clue it’s a leader in lycopene content, a pigment that’s a powerful antioxidant, which protects cells from disease causing damage.  Watermelon contains more lycopene than tomatoes. 
Heirloom tomatoes and watermelon- a delicious nutritious summer match! 

Watermelon’s also a good source of vitamin beta-carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A to boost eye health and the immune system.  Vitamin C, vitamin B6, and the minerals potassium and phosphorous are on the list of health benefits, too.  Registered dietitian, Elizabeth Somer, spokesperson for the National Watermelon Promotion Board  and author of “Eat Your Way to Sexy” says, “Where else can you get the wealth of nutrition, help keep your heart healthy, stay hydrated and satisfy a sweet tooth, all for so few calories?”
So, the next time you see a platter of bright red watermelon slices or watermelon chunks tossed into a salad you’ll know that this iconic symbol of summertime deserves more attention than a seed spitting contest.


Fruity Watermelon Facts 
o   The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt and is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics on walls of their ancient buildings. Watermelons were often placed in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife.
o   Southern food historian, John Egerton, believes watermelon made its way to the United States with African slaves as he states in his book, "Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History."
o   Watermelon’s official name is Citrullus Lanatus, the same botanical family as cucumbers
o   Wash watermelons. According to the FDA, all melons should be washed in clean running water before cutting into the rind.
 
Mind the Rind: Always wash melons carefully before cutting.

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