Nothing says summer like fresh watermelon. I am always mesmerized by the beautiful display at the supermarket piled high, and I just can't help myself! Before I know it, I end up with a huge 5-lb melon in my cart. When I get home, I realize that while we love watermelon, my eyes may have been bigger than my stomach!
But, then it's time to be creative! Since watermelons are 92% water, they are great for hydrating in the summer, and contrary to popular belief, they are actually pretty nutrient dense- making them a guilt free pleasure.
One cup of watermelon will provide the following percentage of daily vitamins:
- 17 percent of vitamin A
- 21 percent of vitamin C
- 2 percent of iron
- 1 percent of calcium
Watermelon also contains thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene, and betaine. That may sound like a lot of technical mumbo jumbo, but long story short, watermelons are actually good for you!
Watermelon is great for the skin because it contains vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production, which keeps hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.
Watermelon and watermelon juice have been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time following exercise in athletes. Researchers believe this is likely due to the amino acid L-citrulline contained in watermelon.
Choline - found in watermelon - is a very important and versatile nutrient; it aids our bodies in sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat, and reduces chronic inflammation.
Researchers believe that eating watermelon can aid in reducing risks for and symptoms common with asthma, inflammation and cancer. Also, diets rich in lycopene - found in watermelon - may help protect against heart disease.
As an excellent source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, watermelon can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Several studies have found that lycopene intake has been linked with a decreased risk of prostate cancer and help protect against heart disease.
Varieties of Watermelon
So with all those benefits, you can feel better about succumbing to your temptation of buying a giant watermelon! But there are several different types to choose from. There are five common types of watermelon, including: seeded, seedless, mini (also known as personal), yellow, and orange- with multiple varieties within each type.
The important things to note when making your selection is quite honestly the size and color of your watermelon really has little bearing on the flavor, Most are similar in flavor, though some have a mealier texture (icebox variety).
Seedless varieties are genetically modified, and are not truly seedless, but actually do contain tiny, white, edible immature seeds in lesser amounts than traditional watermelons. You know our feeling on GMO's (we try to avoid them because we enjoy produce the way nature intended), and part of the fun of eating a watermelon is spitting out the seeds anyway!
Picking the Right Watermelon
When picking out the right watermelon, regardless of variety, it should feel heavy for its size. Additionally, it should have a yellow field spot on the underside (this is where it rested on the ground) and when it is creamy yellow, the watermelon is ripe. The watermelon should be slightly dull in color; shiny usually means under-ripe. Also, when you tap a ripe watermelon, it will have a deep hollow sound. Under- or over-ripe watermelons make a more dull sound.
Whole, uncut watermelons can be stored in the fridge or in a cool dark place for up to a week. Once you sliced your melon, store in an air-tight container in the fridge for about 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
While eating a fresh triangle of melon, with juice dripping down your chin is a delectable summer right of passage, Watermelon can be sophisticated and gussied up for any event.
Some suggestions include grilling, serving in salads or ceviches, and juicing or blending- kid friendly or adult beverages are all delicious. Seeds can be roasted or ground into flour and watermelon rinds are delicious when pickled. Fresh cilantro and mint are herbs that work extremely well paired with watermelon
One of my absolute favorites is grilled watermelon- it is a great way to get a smokey flavor, and if you have never tried it, now is the time!
Sriracha-lime grilled watermelon is easy. Simply rub 1-inch thick slices with EVOO and a touch of sriracha then grill just until you see grill marks on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and top with lime zest and cilantro if desired.