Chillin’ with Watermelon

I’ve never been big on 4th of July picnics … I’m not a fan of traditional potato salad and hot dogs, the corn is often too starchy, and I even disliked watermelon … until a few years ago.

One year our local market had a special, buy $10 of groceries and get a free watermelon. But unlike the jumbo varieties that I recognized from my youth, this was a petite, round, blemish-free, seedless watermelon. The sweet and hydrating flesh was a very deep pink, and it seemed unlike any I had ever tasted. Since then, I have found a new love in this thirst-quenching melon, and thank goodness … since the deals on watermelon around this time of year are simply too good to pass up!

Watermelon season lasts from May to October, but they ripen and gain flavor as the summer progresses. The high water content of watermelon makes it a calorie-conscious treat, as 1 cup of diced watermelon has just 49 calories and no fat. But beyond waist-slimming, watermelon is also an excellent source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and lycopene (yep, of tomato fame).

To select a winning watermelon, follow these tips from The National Watermelon Promotion Board:

  • Skip the thumping and slapping, instead look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.
  • Lift it up to make sure it’s heavy for its size.
  • Turn it over to find the creamy yellow spot where it sat on the ground and ripened.

Once you’ve picked your watermelon, wash it thoroughly and pat it dry before slicing (this prevents pesticides, germs, etc. from being pushed into the flesh with your knife). To make cutting it easier and safer, first cut the melon in half, then in quarters. Cut the flesh away from the rind, and then cut it into chunks. Place the cut watermelon in a sealed plastic container and refrigerate immediately. Properly stored, your watermelon should last from 4-7 days.

When I have leftover watermelon, I puree it and pour into ice cube trays. The watermelon cubes can be floated in drinks to add a wonderfully cool flavor, or blended into smoothies and frosties for a refreshing treat.

watermeloncubes

Here are two of my favorite Refreshing Watermelon Recipes:

And here are a few more I found (all dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free I believe) that sound wonderful:

What are your favorite watermelon recipes? Are there any 4th of July foods that you look forward too?

vegan soul strawberry watermelon smoothie

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