A quintessential summer food, watermelon is not only wonderfully sweet and refreshing on a hot summer day, it’s remarkably good for you as well!
Though low in calories, watermelon is surprisingly full of beneficial nutrients. It’s rich in a number of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants not only in its tasty flesh, but in the rind and seeds as well. Full of anti-inflammatory compounds like L-citrulline and lycopene, watermelon can help lower your blood pressure, support heart health, reduce muscle pain and protect your skin. Plus, the plentiful fiber and water help fill you up, making watermelon a perfect weight-loss food.
And while a slice at a summer cookout is a great way to reap the benefits of watermelon, there are plenty more tasty ways to incorporate this healthy treat into your daily diet. From snacks to salads and desserts, try out some of these inspiring ideas and tap into the health benefits of watermelon more regularly.
How to Pick a Watermelon
Watermelons come in a variety of sizes and colors. Yellow and orange watermelon can make a nice change from the red variety, and they look beautiful together in a summer fruit salad.
Be sure to consider how full your refrigerator is when selecting the size. It can take a long time to get through a 20-pound melon!
Do you know how to tell when watermelon is ripe? When choosing a melon, look for one with a dull skin that feels heavy for its size. Turn it over to check for a creamy yellow splotch where it rested on the ground — no splotch or a white one will be less ripe. Finally, tap around the melon with your knuckles to check that it makes a nice round “thunk” to ensure you’ve got a good one. And when you do, take it home and try one (or all) of these tasty ways to get your watermelon fix this summer!
1. Slushies, smoothies & sorbets
Watermelon is a perfect choice for cooling slushies, which can be made with nothing but frozen watermelon, or can have additional nutritious ingredients if you prefer. You can also use watermelon in refreshing summer smoothies. Frozen watermelon is a perfect base for homemade sorbet, which you can easily make in your blender. Is your mouth watering yet? Here are a few recipes to get you started:
- Watermelon & Green Grape Chia Seed Slushie
- Cooling Watermelon Mint Smoothie
- Summer Watermelon & Mango Sorbet
2. Watermelon ice pops
Chunks of watermelon can be frozen on their own or cut with a cookie cutter to make easy one-ingredient ice pops that will please both kiddos and parents trying to keep snacks healthy. You can also puree the fruit as you would for a slushie and pour it into a mold. For a delicious way to cool off on a hot day, try these festive Layered Watermelon Ice Pops.
3. Make it savory
Watermelon can also be used in a number of delicious salads, like this Blood Organic Balsamic Watermelon Salad, and salsas (Watermelon Tomatillo Salsa, anyone?), combining watermelon with other vegetables or the classic feta cheese. A vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar, some homegrown cucumbers or greens and mint, and you have the makings of a stunning and light summer side dish.
4. Rind recipes
Do you marvel at how much you throw away when you’re done eating the pink part of your watermelon? You can cut food waste and stretch your produce budget by learning to use this surprisingly versatile part of the fruit. An added bonus: It turns out that the rind is even richer in anti-inflammatory citrulline than the pink flesh.
To use the rind, cut away the tough green outer shell, and the white part that remains can be tossed in smoothies, used to make pickles, added to salsas, substituted for cucumber in gazpacho, or even curried. It has a crunchy texture that soaks up flavor when you cook it, like cauliflower. Don’t tell your dinner guests what they’re eating and see if they can guess!
5. Seed power
Not just for spitting contests, watermelon seeds are surprisingly full of nutrition. Like other seeds, watermelon seeds are rich in protein and healthy fats. Those hard outer shells make them difficult to digest, so watermelon seeds need to be sprouted to make the nutrients available.
Crunchy roasted seeds make a filling on-the-go snack, or can be used as toppings for salads. They can also be blended into a watermelon seed butter for an unusual alternative to nut butters.
6. Dehydrate it!
If you’ve got too much watermelon lying around, or you’re not thrilled with the flavor or texture of the one you picked, slice it thinly and put it on your dehydrator (or use an oven on the lowest temperature possible). When you suck out all the moisture from watermelon, the sugars concentrate and you’re left with a surprisingly chewy morsel reminiscent of taffy. It will keep in an airtight container for months, so you can enjoy some healthy watermelon snacks long after watermelon season has ended.
7. Drink up
Even when a watermelon isn’t handy, you can rehydrate with watermelon water. With a hefty dose of potassium, it’s a perfect choice for replenishing fluids on a hot day and a great alternative to artificially-colored, harmful energy drinks.
How will you tap into the impressive powers of watermelon this summer?