Monday, August 1, 2011

Nature’s Italian Ices

Growing up, when I went to the pool or hung out by the lake, I always wanted something cold. From the snack bar, I was allowed the always-refreshing Marino’s Watermelon Italian Ices. Although still a personal sweet treat favorite, I now often turn to the natural alternative: watermelon!

Why have you done a good thing?

Watermelon is a wonderful delicious, nutritious, and hydrating fruit for summer. On a hot summer’s day, having some watermelon is a great way to stay hydrated and make sure you are having enough fluids. Watermelon also provides a wonderful amount of vitamins, including vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and lycopene (yes, like tomatoes) which is a great antioxidant helpful to prevent cancer, found in all red fruits and vegetables. Best yet, a whole cup of watermelon is only 50 calories, making a great bang for your bite and an awesome poolside treat.

How to pick a ripe watermelon

Look for a very round melon heavy for its size and without bruises. Try to roll it around and find the “couche” which is the spot where watermelons rest on the ground while growing (should be flatter than other spots). If you can’t find one, the melon isn’t a good choice.

How to eat watermelon

Other than obviously good ole’ fashion watermelon slice at a BBQ, there are plenty of ways to eat watermelon.

v Freeze slices for your own homemade ices. Or blend together watermelon, ice, and lime juice for a great fresh slushie!

v Make a simple summer salad of watermelon, red onion, jicama, spinach, salt/pepper, and a good olive oil

v Hate the taste of water but don’t want to drink a lot of calories? Try adding a slice of watermelon to pitcher of water overnight. Makes great subtle tasting flavored water! Add fresh mint or basil too for an even better taste

v Have watermelon, basil, and tomato skewers at your next party!

v Add watermelon to your next Greek salad (goes great with Feta cheese!). Super simple; watermelon, cucumber, feta cheese, salt/pepper, olive oil, mint, lemon juice.

v Puree a cup of watermelon with low-fat plain Greek yogurt and fresh mint or basil for a great breakfast smoothie.

v Try watermelon salsa (click for full recipe and grocery list!):

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp honey

3 cups cubed watermelon

2 tbsp fresh cilantro or parsley

Pinch of salt and pepper

Optional: splash of hot sauce

Mix all together and top fish or chicken with this great dish!

Don’t be afraid to try different varieties of watermelon (including even yellow watermelon). Check out this site for pictures of watermelon species

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN

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