Watermelon: Cool Fruit For Hot Days
What could be better than a cool slice of juicy watermelon on a steamy summer day? Besides being supremely delicious, watermelon is a nutritional powerhouse. A cup has a mere 46 calories but packs tons of infection-fighting vitamin C — especially important during pregnancy, as it helps your body process the additional iron it needs to provide a more nutrient-rich blood flow to your placenta. It’s also packed with vitamin A for skin and bone development and normal growth, B vitamins for brain health and normal metabolism, and potassium to regulate blood pressure. And when eaten iced cold, watermelon is famously effective at battling pregnancy nausea, too.
The same nutrients that make watermelon a great choice for Moms and Moms-to-Be makes it a must for Dads and kids, too. In addition to providing vitamins and minerals the whole family needs, watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, a disease-fighting antioxidant that supports Dad’s prostate health.
It's an excellent source of water
Watermelon is full of something you’ll need to consume a lot more of during the summer months — water! If you’re pregnant, you need to drink at least 8 cups a day but can benefit from as many as 10 cups — and you might need up to 13 cups per day if you’re breastfeeding.
Those extra fluids help relieve the constipation and heartburn that often come with shifting hormones during pregnancy and supply what a breastfeeding mom needs to make enough milk and keep herself hydrated. But it’s not easy to drink that much liquid every day, which is why the fluids you get from watery foods like watermelon make an important contribution to your additional requirements.
Children also need lots of fluids to prevent dehydration — especially when they’re racing around that hot playground. Toddlers especially need extra fluids because they quickly excrete what they consume. so offer watermelon early and often. By the time a baby is a year old and eating a variety of foods, she can enjoy pureed or finely-chopped seedless watermelon along with the rest of the family.
Watermelon can be seeded or seedless, with red or yellow flesh. Regardless of the variety, choosing a good watermelon is simple. The best is heavy for its size (thanks to all that water), firm-skinned, and evenly shaped — and it’s even better if it has a yellowish-white spot on its underside (that means it sat out in a field long enough to ripen and sweeten as it soaked up the sun).
It's easy to eat
To reduce the risk of bacterial infection and pesticides, always wash the outer rind of watermelon before you slice it. Once you cut your melon, wrap it well and it’ll last in the refrigerator for several days. Serve watermelon on its own at any meal or get creative and try these simple recipes:
- Fruity Salsa or Salad: Combine finely-diced watermelon with chopped green or red onion and chopped fresh cilantro or mint. For more complex flavor, add finely-chopped tomatoes, mango and/or cucumber. Cut the fruit and vegetables into larger pieces, toss with fresh spinach or mixed greens, and you have a salad instead of a salsa. These fresh flavors go great with grilled chicken, fish, and tofu, too.
- Slice on a Stick: Cut a watermelon in half lengthwise and then in half again. Chop each piece into ½-inch-thick, triangle-shaped slices. Insert a Popsicle stick into the rind of each slice. Eat as-is, or arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. (You can use a sharp knife tip to make a small incision in the rind before inserting the stick.)
- Watermelon Puree: Whirl 4 cups of seedless watermelon chunks with a tablespoon of fresh lime juice and a 1-inch peeled piece of ginger root in a blender or food processor until pureed. If your melon is ripe, you shouldn't need to add sugar — but if you do, just a spoonful or two can boost the flavor. Refrigerate the puree in a covered container for up to a few days, or use it to make:
- Watermelon Spritzer: Dilute the puree with seltzer for a sparkling, soda-like drink.
- Pink Lemonade: Stir puree into prepared lemonade or grapefruit juice.
- Watermelon Snow: Freeze the puree in a covered freezer-proof container for 3 to 4 hours, scraping with a fork every 30 minutes to maintain a “snowy” texture.
- Yogurt Topping: Spoon the puree over low-fat plain, lemon, or vanilla yogurt.
- Watermelon Ice Cubes: Divide the puree into ice cube trays and freeze until firm. For any icy snack, turn several cubes into a serving dish or mug and thaw in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until semi-frozen. Or use the frozen cubes in a pitcher or glass of ice water or other beverage.