By Charl Rae Cobb
Summertime brings warm weather and juicy melons. With cool weather behind us and hot days ahead, I am planning menus that include fruit, especially melons.
My childhood friends with fall, winter, and spring birthdays had moms who baked birthday cakes. But, my mom chose to provide a watermelon (and stay out of a hot kitchen). The watermelon provided a bright red, cool, sweet treat, as well as seeds for spitting contests. She would squirt a little “no tears” shampoo on a homemade slip and slide (kids came to my birthday party in their swim suits). My mom was sneaky smart that way (getting kids to clean up willingly before they went home!) What great memories!
The tradition for a watermelon on my birthday continues with my dear husband looking for just the right melon to present me with. (Black Diamonds were prized where I grew up, but I have a fondness for almost any watermelon that is available.)
Thanks to our local grocery store, I no longer have to wait, as I did when I was a child, to savor the juicy goodness of a variety of melons. However, I believe there is value in seasonal eating, which brings a special joy of anticipation for certain flavors! Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, Israel melon, and cucumber are so refreshing and can be enjoyed by themselves, mixed together, or partnered with other fruits and vegetables to tempt the palate and hydrate the body in a variety of dishes.
The Cucurbitaceae family, also known as curbits or gourds, include both edible and inedible fruits (even the loofah sponge is in this family!). The edible melons mentioned above are tasty sources of Vitamins C and A with some potassium, magnesium, and a small amount of iron, folate, and calcium.
Here are some of the ways we are going to be including them in our summer picnics (at home, in parks, camping, etc.):
Summer Smoothie Recipe
1 handful kale (1/4 to 1/2 cup) chopped or torn into small pieces (loaded with B vitamins)
2 or more cups honey dew melon
1 small avocado (skin and seed removed)
1-2 Tablespoons honey
1-2 cups cucumber (Skin removed)
(1/2 cup carrots or blueberries, optional)
1/2 teaspoon grated or dried ginger
Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. (I usually put the kale in first since it is the most dense item.)
Party Fruit Salad Boats
1 small watermelon
Large bowl (or bowls) in which to place all the cut fruit.
Other fruit (berries, kiwi, grapes) optional
Cut skin off pineapple, core it, then cut flesh into cubes and put into bowl(s).
Cut melons in half, remove seeds and skins, cut flesh into cubes. Put cubes in bowl(s).
Cut small V shapes into the cut sides of the watermelon halves (to make it more decorative.) You may want to slice a small peice off the bottom side of the watermelon “boat” to keep it from tipping one way or the other.
Place all the cut fruit into the watermelon “boats.” Add any other fruits you wish to enjoy. This makes a very colorful, low calorie, high flavor dish that can be the centerpiece of almost any party. Or, you can simply pack the mixed fruit into smaller bowls or containers for lunches and picnics. Leftovers are perfect for adding to smoothies or yogurt.
Cucumber slices (with or without skin) can be alternated with tomato slices and mozzarella slices to create a pretty side dish. Drizzle with your favorite dressing if desired.
Cucumbers can be sliced and tossed with sliced onion and drizzled with your favorite dressing. I like sweet 1015 onion and bacon crumbles for this dish. Others may prefer the tangy bite of red onion.
As always, if you have any suggestions, helpful hints, recipes, or comments, please forward them to our dear editor.
Best of health to you all!
This article is not meant to diagnose nor recommend treatments for allergies or illnesses. As always, check with your health care provider to be sure that you are eating foods that are beneficial to you and your family, especially when there are certain dietary needs in your family.