July 5, 2011

The Perfect Summer Superfood - Watermelon!

1 Vegetables & Fruit (1/2 cup watermelon)

Watermelon facts:
  • Related to cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin
  • They grow on a vine on the ground
  • While red watermelon is the most common found, there are varieties featuring orange, yellow and white flesh
  • Has been known to decrease inflammation contributing to conditions like asthma, diabetes and arthritis
  • Antioxidant powerhouse - excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A (beta carotene), as well as lycopene (three cancer-fighters)
  • Great source of Vitamin B6 & B1, magnesium and potassium
  • 1 cup of watermelon contains 25% of your daily value of Vitamin C, and only contains 48 calories!

I could easily eat watermelon with every meal, all summer long.  And my boys love it as well!  No other fruit quenches thirst like it, and the high levels of antioxidants make it an ideal snack for anyone.

There are some melon safey tips, though, that everyone should follow:

Clean Your Melons!
Melons grow on vines on the ground, where their outer rind can easily come in contact with contaminated water, animals and improperly composted manure.  Like all other fruit, bacteria may also be transferred during handling, storing and transporting, as well as from juices from raw meat while grocery shopping.  Any bacteria on the outer rind can transfer to the inner flesh when cutting the melon.  To avoid contamination, and a trip to the hospital, scrub the melon with soap (I use dish soap) using a clean scrub brush and rinse well with hot water.  Keeping your family safe from food-borne illness is easy and takes only minutes of your time.

Slice Safely!
Starting with a clean, bacteria-free watermelon is just the start.  If you are using a plastic or wood cutting board, make sure that the board is not used for cutting meat.  I don't use a cutting board to cut watermelon.  Instead, I use a tea towel folded in half.  It absorbes the juice (less mess), and it gives the melon a stable base while I cut.  I make sure to use a sharp knife, further decreasing the chance of injuring myself (I find that a large chef's knife works best).  If your kidlets want to help with cutting the melon, slice a piece with the rind on and let them cut it into bite-sized pieces using a dull butter knife or plastic knife.  They'll have a great time helping out!

For more tips on the safe handling and storage of watermelon and other melons, check out Healthy Canadians at http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/init/cons/food-aliments/safety-salubrite/melon-eng.php.

Make watermelon a weekly treat for your family and benefit from this super healthy fruit!

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