Choose your watermelon wisely if you want a great salad
Since she was tiny, Chloe’s favourite fruit has been watermelon.
These days she calls it water-malone in a silly voice. I have no idea why, but it’s subconsciously rubbed off and now I call it that too.
It’s confusing when I’m in clinic, where I must remember to know my audience and retain some professionalism.
But it’s funny how often watermelon comes up. The seeds are really rich in selenium so I often have clients put the fruit and seeds in a smoothie. It’s so delicious with banana and a twist of lime! It’s always important to include protein in a smoothie too (to slow down the sugar release from the fruit) but as watermelon and protein powder are an odd combo, using collagen hydrolysate works beautifully here. The texture stays light and refreshing!
Watermelon is also rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant overall but especially helpful for prostate health. We're used to being told tomatoes are rich in lycopene (and they are), but the lycopene in watermelon is much more bioavailable. To really get the benefit from tomatoes, the tomatoes need to be cooked, which is more limiting.
Watermelon is also rich in vitamins C, B5, A, B1 and B6 and biotin, so its benefits are diverse. It's also diverse in terms of how you can use it – try it over green leaves, with avocado and a balsamic reduction for a super fancy salad; flash-grill it on the barbecue for an interesting side or freeze it in wedges on a Popsicle stick for a refreshing icy treat. The latter was a huge favourite with my kids when they were young. See Facebook and Instagram for this one; it's so easy!
If you buy a whole watermelon, look for one with a “field spot” – a flatter, creamy coloured area that indicates the melon was left to sit long enough to be ripe. Choose something that feels heavy and also one that has a skin that's a little more dull. Glossy watermelons are likely to be less ripe. Above all, avoid anything that has a stalk attached. It's definitely not ripe enough if there is a stalk. Lastly, to get the best flavour, make sure you pick a ripe, but not too ripe, watermelon. If you buy cut watermelon, look for something deep in colour without any lines of white running through it. Hope that’s helpful!
Although we had a brief flashback to winter this week, we are (fingers crossed!) well and truly into summer. This means it’s time to roll out the salads in the evenings, which become such a light and easy option. I love fruit in salad, especially watermelon, so give this recipe a try. The watermelon/avocado combo is one of my all-time favourites. Just remember, fruit is a carb so try not to have another starchy side too (rice, potatoes, pasta etc). Enjoy it with grilled chicken, fish or steak instead.
Grilled watermelon and avocado salad
1 small red watermelon (3-4lbs)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing the melon
3 tbs lime juice (approximately 2 limes)
1 large orange (navel), juiced
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¼ fresh mint, chopped
1 large avocado, sliced
Pumpkin seeds or crumbled goat cheese for garnish (optional)
1. Pre-heat the grill
2. Cut the watermelon in half lengthways, then cut each half in half crosswise. Cut these quarters into 2-inch thick slices.
3. Brush the slices with olive oil and set aside until ready to grill.
4. Combine the juices, salt, cayenne and oil and whisk thoroughly into a dressing. Add the mint and set aside.
5. When ready to grill, place the watermelon slices over a clean grill, directly over the heat source. Grill until marked and just warm but still crunchy. Approximately two minutes each side. Let cool.
6. Cut off the rinds and dice the watermelon into bite-sized chunks. Put the watermelon into a salad bowl and toss in the dressing. At the last minute, stir in the avocado and toss gently.
7. Serve on a bed of leafy greens and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds or goat cheese, as desired.
Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram