Antioxidant Powerhouse

by in Food & Nutrition, Kids Health May 14, 2012

Spotlight on Watermelon –

I am posting here instead of in the Healthy Foods Column today.

Watermelon : luscious & juicy red fruit with hard green outer layer. Nutritional powerhouse.

Cut into triangle wedges, we ate it as kids as our moms shoved us back outside to play. Our slices were full of black seeds that we would spit at our siblings on a hot summer day, while the red juice ran down our arms and pink drips stained our shirts.  I loved watermelon then and still do to this day.  My kids are huge fans.  However, now it is hard to find a watermelon in the store with those black seeds; 98% sold are seedless.  My kids love the seedless watermelon! For me, it brings up issues of GMO’s….BUT, that is another topic for another blog.

Watermelon season runs from May through October. Although mostly water, watermelon is low in calories, as well as an excellent source of vitamin C and beta carotene.  It is considered one of the cleanest non-organic fruits because of its thick skin.  Watermelon contains lycopene; a powerful antioxidant proven to fight off certain types of cancer.

When choosing a watermelon at the store, the skin should be slightly shiny.  It should have a yellow or white spot on the surface somewhere and if you knock on it, it should sound hollow. You want to pick one that feels heavy for it’s size, usually meaning that it is full of juice.

Add watermelon to fruit salad. Fresh mint is a great compliment to a watermelon dish. Here are a couple of recipes to enjoy with your family.

Watermelon-Lemonade Cooler

  • 15 cups seeded and cubed watermelon
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 2 mint sprigs
  • Ice

Process watermelon, in batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth. Combine concentrate and 2 mint sprigs, and cook in a saucepan over medium-high heat 10 minutes. Stir together watermelon puree and lemonade mixture; cover and chill 8 hours. Remove and discard mint. Stir and serve over ice. Garnish with mint sprig. For the adults – this sounds like a great weekend boat drink if you add a little rum, vodka or champagne – just sayin’ 🙂

Watermelon, Feta & Basil Salad

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 8-lb seedless watermelon cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup reduced-fat feta
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves

In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the watermelon, feta and onion. Stir gently.  Garnish with the basil.