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13 Aug 2010

Wonderful Watermelon

I don't know anyone who doesn't enjoy eating watermelon on a hot, Summer day. Apart from being a wonderful thirst quencher it has a cooling effect on the body. Watermelons are part of the same family as cucumber, squash, and pumpkin. The watermelon is thought to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. They have been harvested for over 5,000 years and this was even depicted in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.

There are many varieties of watermelon. They come shaped round, cylindrical and now even square, seeded and seedless. Not only do they come in the normal red coloured flesh but also now with orange, yellow, pink, or white flesh. Many raw foodies prefer organic, red fleshed, watermelons with seeds, as they feel they are more nutritious than the more modern varieties.

Even though watermelons are around 90% water they are very nutritious. They are an excellent source of beta-carotene, giving an excellent supply of vitamin C and A, a very good source of B6, and a good source of vitamin B1, potassium and magnesium..Red and pink fleshed watermelons contain the red pigment lycopene. Lycopene like the beta-carotene is a potent carotenoid antioxidant. Studies have found watermelons contain up to 40% more lycopene than found in raw tomatoes.

Health wise they are excellent. The beta-carotene antioxidants in watermelon help neutralize free radicals and build the immune system. This helps in the prevention of many medical problems from asthma to heart attacks. They also alleviate some of the symptoms of  arthritis. The lycopene has been in extensive and on-going studies into its antioxidant and possible cancer-preventing properties.  

The vitamin B6, helps brain function and helps convert protein to energy and the vitamin A helps with eye health.  The potassium contained helps lower blood pressure and alleviates leg cramps. Watermelon also contains the amino acids citrulline and arginine that help maintain the arteries and heart health. On top of everything watermelon seed tea is said to alleviate bladder infections.

When purchasing, pick a watermelon with a smooth skin, free of bruises, dents and cuts. It should seem heavy in weight for it's size. It should have a light spot on the underside where it rested on the ground while ripening in the sun. To test for ripeness, slap with your hand and it should give a high pitched, not flat (under-ripe) or hollow (over-ripe) sound . They can be stored uncut for up to a week at room temperature in a dry area of the home. Wash well before cutting. Once cut, refrigerate.

Watermelon can be prepared in many ways, the flesh can be sliced, cubed or scooped into balls. Both the seeds and the rind are also edible. Although normally eaten raw they can be turned into pickles, jams and jellies. Dried watermelon slices make a sweet-like snack. A cup of diced watermelon is only 49 calories so it can be enjoyed by all.

Useful websites:
What to do with the rind? Go HERE for recipes.
How to cut a watermelon? Go HERE to watch a video and find out how.    

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Watermelon Salad with Jalapeño and Lime
From the Vegetarian Times               
Black sesame seeds add a nice colour contrast to this dish, but if you can’t find them, white sesame seeds work just as well.

3 tbsps lime juice
2 tbsps olive or avocado oil
1/8 tsp lime zest
 2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
1/4 cup basil or Thai basil, cut into thin strips
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt

Whisk together lime juice, oil and lime zest. Set aside. Place watermelon cubes in single layer in large shallow dish. Pour lime juice mixture over watermelon, and gently toss to combine. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Place 5 jalapeño rings each in 4 shallow serving bowls. Mound 1/2 cup watermelon in centre of each bowl. Divide marinade among bowls. Sprinkle with basil, sesame seeds and salt, and serve. Serves 2.  Calories per serving: 181


The Green Watermelon
By Annmarie Gianni at the Renegade Health Show  

1 cucumber
2 stalks celery
handful fresh cilantro (coriander)
3 kale leaves
small piece garlic, peeled
1 cup watermelon

First, make a juice from all of the ingredients except for the watermelon. Then, blend the juice with the watermelon. This recipe can be found in our "Smoothies for Optimal Health" book.


Watermelon Aguas Frescas (sugar-free version)
From Elana's Pantry blog - A great place for gluten-free recipes.  
A popular fruit beverage from Mexico.

2 cups watermelon, sliced into 1 inch cubes, discard rinds
1/4 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
10 drops stevia
ice (lots)

Place watermelon, lime juice and stevia in a Vita-Mix (or other high speed blender) and purée on highest setting until liquefied. Fill 2 large glasses to the top with ice. Pour watermelon mixture over ice. Serves 2.


Grilled Watermelon and Tomato Salad
From treehugger  weekday vegetarian        

4 3/4 inch inch thick slices of seedless watermelon
4 ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced into wedges
4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 tsps aged balsamic vinegar
8 small leaves fresh opal basil
8 small leaves of fresh green basil
Maldon sea salt, for garnish

Prepare a charcoal grill outdoors for direct grilling over high heat. Or, indoors, place a grill pan over high heat until very hot. Using a 3 1/2" / 9 cm cookie cutter, cut the watermelon flesh into four rounds. Place on the grill grates or in grill pan, directly over the heat. Grill on one side only, until grill-marked, and the melon emits a slightly smoky aroma, about 2 minutes. Transfer rounds, grill-marked sides up, to a platter. Place the tomato wedges in a large bowl and toss gently with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season to taste with kosher salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Place a watermelon slice, grill-marked side up, in the centre of each of four appetizer plates. Top each with an equal portion of tomatoes. Drizzle each salad with 1/2 tablespoon of remaining olive oil, and top each with 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Garnish with opal basil and green basil and a few grains of Maldon salt, and serve. Serves 4.


Sparkling Watermelon Juice
From Dr Ben Kim's wonderful health website .

8 cups of ripe watermelon chunks
12 ozs / 350 mls sparkling mineral water
ice cubes
small handful of mint leaves (optional)

Use a strong blender to purée watermelon chunks and mint leaves together. Add a few splashes of sparkling water to get things going, if necessary. Combine watermelon purée with sparkling water in a large pitcher. Chill for one hour before serving over ice cubes in tall glasses. Makes about 6 servings. Please note: This recipe is suitable for anyone on a Full Body Cleanse program.


Watermelon Rind Jelly
From the Watermelon Rind website. 

4 cups cubed watermelon rind
3 ozs / 85 gms liquid fruit pectin
2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 1/2 cups white sugar

To begin this recipe you will first want to take out your blender and plug it in. Next add in your cubed watermelon rind, and blend it until it's a purée. Next take out a saucepan, and add in the watermelon rind puree, white sugar, lemon juice, and ground cinnamon. Moving along, place the saucepan over medium heat, and bring the contents to a boil. Stir as often as needed to keep the contents from burning. Next add in the liquid fruit pectin, and continue stirring. You will want to cook these ingredients for fifteen minutes, then remove the saucepan from the burner. Next skim off the foam, and pour the jelly mix into canning jars and seal them. Refrigerate the jelly after the jars have been opened. We hope you have enjoyed this unique recipe, please be sure to check out our many other watermelon rind based creations.


Pickled Watermelon Rind
From Martha Stewart 

1 pound / 450 gms watermelon rind (from a 3-pound piece watermelon)
3 tbsps plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsps pickling spice
Directions

Using a vegetable peeler, peel outer skin and tough green layer from watermelon rind; cut rind into 2-by- 1/2-inch strips. In a medium saucepan, combine 5 cups water with 3 tablespoons salt; bring to a boil. Add rind. Cook at a rapid simmer over medium-high until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a heatproof bowl (reserve saucepan). In reserved saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, pickling spice, remaining teaspoon salt, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt; pour hot liquid into bowl with rind. Use a small plate to submerge rind into liquid. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a container; cover and refrigerate in liquid at least 2 hours and up to 2 weeks. Serves 8.

18 comments:

comfrey cottages said...

wonderful information and delightful recipes, jackie:) thank you for sharing:) going to try that grill recipe soon!!!

Andrea said...

I'm off to make a watermelon smoothie for breakfast. Thanks for the inspiration!

Kiersten said...

What great watermelon recipes! I love watermelon but I never make anything with it, I just eat it as is. I really want to try that watermelon and jalapeno salad now though. It's like watermelon salsa!

Jenny said...

Wow - who knew you could do so much with watermelon?! Thanks for the watermelon lesson. :)

Alisa said...

This is great! We are so in the midst of watermelon season. I got a yellow watermelon from our CSA last week. I will be giving the sparkling watermelon a try. Love the simplicity of that one.

Greenearth said...

Enjoyed reading what you wrote about watermelon, always learn so much when I visit your site.

Watermelon is such a power packed food. Had a craving for watermelon juice with spirulina powder after finishing radiation.

Will said...

Hallo Jackie,

Just came across your blog through Blog Frog & yes, watermelon is wonderful ! Looks like you've got a lot of great recipes here. Fantastic stuff.

Best wishes from Hamburg

Will

Sheila Bocchine, Pinhole Photographer said...

My mouth was watering as I read this post. I'll have to go buy another watermelon tomorrow and try out some of those recipes. Every summer I eat 100's of watermelon. I live for summer watermelon!!!

Michelle said...

Yummy! I love watermelon and grew up with lovely homegrown watermelons every summer. This was the first year my husband and I have attempted to grow our own watermelons. We have one lovely melon thus far, and it's so exciting to watch it grow. Nature is amazing!

Peace ;)

Michelle @ greenearthbazaar.com

cardiogirl said...

I had no idea there were so many recipes for watermelon! I bought one yesterday and left it in the trunk of the car -- just remembered that.

I also enjoyed the tip on how to find a ripe one by slapping it.

MoonstruckinMontana said...

So happy I stumbled upon your blog! I've been a vegetarian since I was a child but have been moving towards a vegan diet in the last few years. Your blog has been a wealth of information and fun recipes. Thanks so much!

Dirty Butter said...

Mmmmmmmm All these recipes sound so good. I always enjoy stopping by and learning more about all the great natural foods you feature.

Have a great day!!

Jimmy Ng said...

Water melon is one of my favourite and I usually hunt for ready cut pieces from neaby fruit stall right after my lunch break. It's sweet and full of juices and thirst quenching too.

thevegantummy said...

Your posts are always so interesting and informative. Thank you!! I love reading them.

bittersweetblog said...

Ah, as if I need MORE reasons to eat watermelon! I'm absolutely crazy for it, and easily go through 2 - 3 whole melons per week in the height of summer.

Health said...

If you are interested in Healthy Living, you should be interested in Ayurveda. It's not anything weird - it means "longevity". There's a pretty good book on choosing foods that are best for your unique physical makeup. It's called "Foods Heal".

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