Summer Means Watermelon!

It’s finally summertime in my little corner of the world, and I could not be happier! Although I live in rather warm and mild climate of southeast North Carolina, I found this winter to be rather brutal and was counting the days until summer while glaring at my winter coat hanging in my closet for several months. I’m definitely a warm weather kind of gal!

One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies that show up in produce stands alongside my local roads. Freshly harvested strawberries, peaches, and tomatoes warm in the sun and make the air smell like sweet, sweet summer-it’s impossible not to buy them! The warm weather makes me crave meals made with lighter, fresher foods, and fruits are so sweet and ripe they taste like candy. One of my favorite fruits is watermelon, and everything about it-the taste, the smell, the joy of biting into it as the juices dribble down the chin-just screams SUMMERTIME!

Watermelon is not only a sweet and awesome summer treat, but a healthy addition to our diet! The word “water” is not just by chance-this fruit contains 92% water and helps keep us hydrated on hot days. This water content also make this delicious food super low in calories. A full cup pf watermelon contains about 50 calories and offers nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Watermelon is an antioxidant, which means it helps fight free radicals that can damage the cells of the body and lead to heart disease, cancers, and diabetes. The amazing fruit also contains and amino acid called citrulline which can improve exercise performance, aid in reduced muscle soreness, as well as lower blood pressure. Watermelon also has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as lycopene-which benefits the eyes. The vitamin C and A found in watermelon make this food skin healthy, and the high water content along with a small amount of fiber aids in digestion. This fruit is truly a body healthy choice!

When choosing a watermelon, pick one that is uniform is size, with a dark and dull coloring on the rind. Look for a melon that is heavy for its size-this means a higher water content and more sweetness. Check the “field spot” on the melon for the brightest yellow or orange color possible. The field spot shows how long the melon was on the vine and lying in the field-a white field spot means the melon is not yet ripe. Check the webbing or “sugar spots” on the melon-if they are large and long, the melon should be very sweet.

Serve watermelon by the slice, or in cubes with any meal for a refreshing side. Watermelon can also be added to any type of salad for a sweet crunch. Serve watermelon cubes with feta cheese or even prosciutto as an appetizer or snack. Get super creative and add watermelon to salsas, pickle it, or even try grilling it with your favorite spices! Add watermelon to your infused waters or follow the recipe below for a tasty frozen sorbet.

Watermelon Banana Sorbet

(makes 4 servings)

2 cup of cubed fresh watermelon

2 large bananas-frozen and cut into small chunks

1 tsp fresh lime juice

Place everything into a blender or food processor and pulse on high until smooth and creamy

Place into a covered container or ziploc bag-try to remove as much air as possible to prevent ice crystals from forming.

Freeze for 2-3 hours and enjoy this creamy, sweet, cold treat!