by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
I agree with George Washington that government is fire. It has policing power to enforce public safety. So, when I get an email like the following from government, you’d better believe I will follow it lest I risk fines and fees or incarceration:
With Summer Heat at its Peak, Reach for This Perfect Snack to Cool You Off
By Stephanie Bryant, UNC Chapel Hill MPH/RD Candidate, WIC Summer Intern, Department of Public Health
First, some hints: This food is an essential part of every cookout you will attend this summer. Its peak growing season in Western NC is July/August. While commonly thought of as fruit, you may be surprised to learn it is really a vegetable. Ancient Egyptians used to place this food in burial tombs to give nourishment in the afterlife. Explorers used them as canteens for water. According to the 2013 Guinness Book of World Records, the heaviest one ever grown was a whopping 268.8 pounds! Any ideas?
If you guessed a watermelon, you are correct! “A vegetable?!” you might ask. Yes! Watermelon is in the same plant family as pumpkins and squash, as it grows on a vine.
How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon:
- Look for a pale yellow spot on the bottom of the melon. It is a good indicator of ripeness.
- The watermelon should feel particularly heavy for its size. (This can be tough to judge.)
- Thump the watermelon with a finger. If it sounds hollow inside, your melon is ready to eat.
So why should you feel good about treating yourself to watermelon this summer? For starters, it is high in fiber, keeping your digestive tract happy and regular. Watermelon is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and lycopene, which are important for healthy eyes, hair, skin and immune function. Lycopene and vitamin C are also antioxidants that reverse cell damage in our bodies. People who consume a diet rich in antioxidants have a lower risk of developing some cancers and heart disease.
Need to keep your blood pressure in check? Potassium is a good blood pressure regulator, and watermelon just so happens to be chock full of it. Watermelon is 92 percent water, making it a great food to keep you hydrated, which can in turn lower your blood pressure as well.
Finally, watermelons contain many amino acids that promote blood flow, leading to better circulation and heart health. This is good news for those who work out. Some research has shown that those who eat watermelon after a workout often experience reduced muscle soreness the next day.
With a mere 46 calories per cup, watermelons have no fat and no cholesterol, making them a great treat to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings. Here are some creative ways to making your next watermelon eating experience more exciting:
- Combine diced watermelon with couscous, feta cheese, olives, balsamic vinegar and some mint leaves for a salad with a unique blend of flavors.
- Puree watermelon with raspberries, strawberries and yogurt, then freeze in ice cube trays to make mini popsicles.
- Slice into thin strips; then dehydrate in your oven at a low temperature (130 ?F) for several hours to make watermelon jerky.
- You can eat the whole watermelon, rind, seeds and all! The rind has many nutrients, and you can pickle it to make it more flavorful and tasty.
- Dice watermelon and pineapple and put on skewers; then grill for a smoky flavor.
- Mix watermelon juice into your favorite hot sauce to add some sweetness to the heat.