Summer Time Memories

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As a child growing up, I remember summer being my favorite time of the year. Not only was school out, I was able to spend more time with family. Cousins would visit from out of town and many family reunions and cookouts would be held – everyone was gathered for good food and good times. One of my favorite summer memories was going to my granddaddy’s farm and picking my very own watermelon. I would always get the biggest one. He would then take it in the house and cut it open for me. As I sat there eating watermelon with juice running down my clothes, I was happy enjoying his company.

Watermelon will always be my favorite summer fruit, and it’s actually a very healthy food. Here are a few healthy facts:

  • Watermelons are low in fat and calories and high in potassium.
  • They are mostly water (about 92 percent) but have lots of nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6, and C and lots of lycopene, antioxidants, and amino acids.
  • Watermelon has many health benefits including: lowering the risk of heart disease, reducing inflammation, aiding in digestion, and keeping skin and hair moisturized.

Choosing the right watermelon can be a little tricky. My granddaddy would thump the watermelon to hear the hollowness of the melon. Another way is to look for one that is heavy for its size with a rind that is relatively smooth – neither overly shiny nor overly dull and without any cuts or bruises, which might have occurred during transportation. Once at home, place the fruit in a cool, well-ventilated place. Watermelon that is cut should be kept in the refrigerator.

After choosing the right watermelon, you’re now ready to prepare it for serving. First, you should wash the whole melon in cold, running water or clean it with a wet cloth to remove surface dirt or any other residue. The watermelon can be cubed, scooped into balls, or eaten the old-fashioned way – sliced and right off of the rind. Fresh watermelon should be eaten as it is, without any additions/seasonings, to experience its delicious, natural sweet taste. Here are some serving tips:

  • Cubes or chunks of watermelon are a great addition to fruit salad. Top its wedges with cold chocolate cream and relish!
  • Jam, sorbet, fruit cocktail, and juice are just some of the nutritious and delicious recipes watermelon can be used in.
  • In some Asian countries, the seeds are roasted and eaten as a snack.
  • Its rind is used and eaten as a vegetable in some South American countries.

For more fun facts, check here: http://www.watermelon.org/Faqs. For more information, please contact Tamika McLean, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Assistant with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at Tamika_McLean@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/. North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.