Watermelon Month was submitted to the Senate of the United States and passed on June 29, 2007. Now this month should not be confused with “National Watermelon Day,” which is celebrated every August 3rd. “National Watermelon Month” is to honor and enjoy the great flavor of a juicy ice cold watermelon. You can eat them sliced, cut in chunks or just from the rind. Some people like to put a sprinkle of salt on top and enjoy it, while others like to blend it up and make refreshing slushy or put it in a cold salad.
More than 300 varieties of watermelon are cultivated in the United States and South America, where complementary growing seasons provide a year-round supply of watermelon in an array of shapes, colors and sizes. Because there are so many varieties, they are often grouped according to characteristics, like fruit shape, rind color, pattern, and size. The most common watermelon options are:
Seeded: The classic watermelon comes in a wide range of sizes. (15-45 lb, round, long, oblong)
Seedless: Due to high demand, the majority of watermelon cultivars grown today are seedless and they are getting redder and crisper thanks to seed breeding advancements. They are not the result of genetic engineering, but rather hybridization, the crossing of two different types of watermelons. (10-25 lb, round to oblong)
Mini: Petite “personal watermelons” are easy to handle and their thinner rinds can mean more flesh per pound. Hollow them out for a serving bowl. (1-7 lb, round)
Yellow & Orange: Generally sweeter than red-fleshed watermelon, yellow and orange varieties add a surprising element to the plate or glass. (10-30 lb, round)
There are health benefits to eating watermelon. A great health fact to know about watermelons is that it's an excellent source of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that is only found in a few red plant foods. It has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers. It also qualifies for a great heart healthy food too! Watermelon is 92% water! The body needs a lot of water to function so this is a good thing. It's nutritious and good for us! Watermelon has no fat or cholesterol which makes it a parent’s favorite snack to give to their children. Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin A, B6, C, potassium and fiber which we all struggle to get more of. These vitamins are vital to good health and disease prevention.
Today, I am sharing with you two recipes that I know you will enjoy, using watermelon. “Watermelon & Pomegranate Tossed Salad”and “Watermelon-Cranberry Agua Fresca,” yummy, cold and refreshing!
“Watermelon & Pomegranate Tossed Salad”
Ingredients for dressing for salad:
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (Pomegranate vinegar is the best)
1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
1 small minced shallot
1/8 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Dash of salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for the salad:
8 cups baby spinach (one 6-oz bag)
3/4 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
2 cups diced seedless watermelon (placed on paper towel to drain excess fluid)
Some fresh raspberries (6oz.)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Place juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer until reduced to about 3 tablespoons and liquid is a thick syrup. Set aside. When cool, add remaining dressing ingredients, from vinegar to salt and pepper. Whip. Set aside for flavors to blend. Place spinach in a large serving bowl. Top with onion, watermelon, feta cheese, raspberries, and pomegranate seeds. Divide onto 4 salad places and drizzle with dressing.
Yield: Makes 4 servings and 3/4 cup of dressing.
Watermelon-Cranberry Agua Fresca”
2 1/2 lbs (about 7 cups) seedless watermelon, rind removed and diced
1 cup fruit-sweetened cranberry juice (sometimes called cranberry nectar)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 lime, cut into 6 slices
In a blender or food processor, blend the watermelon until smooth. Pour the juice into a large pitcher. To eliminate pulp, use a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Add the cranberry and lime juices to the pitcher, and mix well. Refrigerate until very cold. Pour the agua fresca into tall, chilled glasses and garnish each with a fresh lime slice.
******* Optional: You could make this an adult drink, by adding your favorite alcohol.
Till Next Time……………………………….........................................
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