by Teri Pizza
Fresh from the garden, sliced for grilling, or diced into a cool salad, watermelon is a favorite summer snack. At 92 percent water, it’s a natural refresher.
In March of each year, Florida starts to ship watermelons to folks up north so they, too, can begin to enjoy watermelon’s crunchy, sugary goodness. As the calendar nears July, the tide turns and Floridians begin to eat melon shipped from north of the MasonDixon Line.
The good news is that if you’ve got a hankering for melon, you can find it just about anywhere in the U.S. during warm summer months. Select a uniformed shaped, smooth-skinned, yellow-bellied (not white) melon with a neither dull nor shiny exterior.
Melons without a yellow patch may have been picked too early. Tap a watermelon and if it makes a hollow, deep sound, it is fully ripened. The redder the flesh, the more ripe, sweet and nutritious it is. Heaviness indicates a higher juice content.
Plan to eat your melon within a few days of purchase; store leftovers in your refrigerator for about a week.
Leave an uncut watermelon at room temperature to raise its lycopene level 20 percent; lycopene protects against degenerative eye diseases. Watermelons also contain glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that aids the body in detoxification reducing the risk of
certain cancers and heart disease. In addition, the potassium found in watermelon can help steady blood pressure. Other studies indicate that it can help reduce the inflammation that contributes to asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer and arthritis. Although it contains only 46 calories per cup, each serving of this mighty melon does have 20 grams of sugar. Still there is no fat, no cholesterol and the watermelon delivers 20 percent of needed vitamin C
and 17 percent of vitamin A.
Every part of the melon is edible. Toasted seeds can be a snack food; rinds are perfect for pickling.
Watermelon can be used in everything from soups to smoothies, to entrees and elegant desserts. Freeze slices with sticks for popsicles or brush with oil and grill them.
Next time you bite into a watermelon, instead of salt, try sprinkling it with nutmeg or cinnamon as a tasty and healthy alternative.
Teri Pizza is an author and speaker. Information about her books, including her newest, COPD: The Eat to Breathe Plan to Feeling Better, is available on her website, www.teripizza.com