June 20th, 2018

From Our Table: Sizzling summer celebrations

By Medicine Hat News on July 4, 2017.

First of all happy belated Canada Day wishes to everyone! I hope you had a wonderful long weekend celebrating Canada’s 150th. We are so fortunate to live in such an incredible country. I actually tend to tear up whenever I sing our national anthem and reall y concentrate on the words. I am very proud to be Canadian.

And now on to the present and wishing our southern neighbours in the U.S. happy 4th of July.

What could be better for summer celebrations or anything in the sizzling summer sun than cool refreshing wonderful watermelon. Not only is watermelon a tastebud treat it’s also full of versatile vitamins and minerals essential to good health.

A serving size is considered 1 cup of cubed watermelon or a small- or medium-sized wedge about 1 inch thick or if you have melon balls, which are a fun way to serve it, 6 balls count as a serving. One serving has about 45 calories and about 10 grams of sugar. It is also a good source of vitamin C which promotes healthy cell growth in your body. Watermelon also contains pantothenic acid, copper, biotin, magnesium, fibre and vitamin A, it’s rich in electrolytes such as potassium which means it’s not only refreshing it’s replenishing as well. When you sweat a lot not only do use lose water but also essential electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Potassium also helps relieve muscle cramps by balancing fluids in our cells.

Watermelon also has vitamin B6, an important nutrient for brain functions and necessary to break down proteins in our body.

The beautiful pinkish red colour of watermelon is courtesy of those amazing little lycopenes. These are an antioxidant that give fruit its red colour. It’s what makes tomatoes red too. It’s very valuable to protect cells from damage from free radicals. Research has shown lycopenes to be particularly valuable in both prevention and treatment of prostate cancer in men.

As with any food it’s still important to practice moderation. Although the sugar in watermelon is a natural source it’s still sugar and too much is not a good thing. Also if you get carried away and eat too much, as with any fruit the soluble fibre will affect your intestines and you will need to stay close to a bathroom to deal with repercussions.

As for the rind, I didn’t find any information saying it was poisonous. One source said you could purée it. Definitely not my thing. I prefer to stay with the yummy pink part inside. The rind is compostable, though, and will biodegrade. One summer we were boating in the Shuswaps on a beautiful sunny summer day. My husband and I and our four young boys were eating the lunch I packed complete with watermelon wedges and were tossing the rinds into the water. Suddenly our youngest son Benjamin who was about 3 at the time burst into hysterical tears. We all tried to get him to use his words to tell us what was wrong. Finally, after he settled down enough to talk he said in a tear filled voice, “We are going to kill all the fish!” So we were the odd family floating around scooping up all our rinds to appease the environmentally conscientious preschooler. Not a surprise he started the recycling project in the school in elementary school.

Here is a recipe that has all my favourite ingredients. Perfect for a hot day! Keep enjoying this super summer and stay refreshed and replenished with watermelon.

Joanne Smith is a registered dietitian.

Caprese Salad a la Watermelon

3 cups watermelon cubed into 1-inch squares

2 cups sliced strawberries

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

3 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp freshly ground sea salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

1. Place watermelon cubes and strawberry slices in a glass serving bowl.

2. Mix olive oil, sea salt, pepper and basil together. Drizzle over watermelon and strawberries and toss lightly to coat

3. Sprinkle feta cheese evenly over the top

4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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