watermelon2

Watermelon

Watermelons were said to have come from the Kalahari Desert in Africa where they grow wild.  The first recorded depiction of a watermelon harvest is seen in the Egyptian hieroglyphics nearly 5,000 years ago. Watermelon somehow made their way to China by the 10 century where they were cultivated.  In the 13th century, watermelon was spread through the rest of Europe via the Moors.Watermelon, or citrullus lanatus, is of the botanical family curcurbitaceae making it cousins to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash. It is a special kind of fruit referred to by botanists as a pepo which is a berry that has a thick rind and fleshy center.

Nutrition Benefits of Watermelons

One nutrition benefit of watermelon is that it is 92% water and is a refreshing way to get more water in your diet. Watermelon is also loaded with lycopene (pigment that makes it red) containing higher levels of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. Lycopene is an antioxidant that protect cells from oxygen-related damage that can result from regular cell functions.

Watermelon is also rich in B vitamins which are responsible for energy production. The citrulline in watermelon helps aids in arginine production helping maintain cardiovascular function. You will also find a healthy dose of vitamins A and C in watermelon aiding in eye health and immune system function.

How to Select Watermelons to Eat

You first want to make sure that your watermelon is free from bruises, dents, and cuts and is heavy for its size. You then want to look for what people call the “sun spot”, which is a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. The absence of the yellow spot means that the watermelon could have been harvested prematurely. Another trick is to thump the watermelon looking for a hollow thud.

Storing Watermelons

To increase the lycopene and beta-carotene delivery, store your whole watermelon at room temperature. Once cut, watermelons should be stored in the refrigerator to preserve their freshness, taste and juiciness. It is best to store in larger pieces and cover with plastic wrap to prevent the watermelon from becoming dried out and also from absorbing the odors of other foods.

How to Eat Watermelons

You should first wash your watermelon before cutting and eating. The red flesh is usually eaten raw while the skinned rind is often stir fried or pickled.

Summer Vegan’s Watermelon Recipes

When it comes to watermelon, the Summer Vegan kitchen remains a purist and follows food combining guidelines which suggest that watermelon should be eaten alone. It is said that for better digestion, all melons should be eaten alone because they decompose faster than other fruits and vegetables. I have not done much research on the topic but have found this recommendation in my research and for some reason stuck with it.

With that said, the Summer Vegan kitchen has been whipping up several batches of watermelon juice which has been a nice and refreshing summer treat. This is done by cutting up the watermelon and place in a blender (seeds and all). Blend the watermelon on low until it is broken up.

Place a paint strainer bag in a bowl with the elastic edge wrapped around the bowl. Pour your blended watermelon into the bag and squeeze the juice through. Toss the pulp, transfer to a container, chill and enjoy.

Other Watermelon Recipe Ideas

This watermelon-lavender sorbet found over at Farm Flavor looks quite tasty thanks to the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

Or you can try out Laylita’s watermelon mimosas at your next Sunday brunch.  You can always opt for virgin mimosas by adding sparkling water or grape juice and also make simple mimosas with just watermelon juice and champagne.

Hed on over to Oprah.com where you will find citrus and spiced pickled watermelon rind and cucumber watermelon soup both adapted by Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen.

We may not be chefs but our food is from our hearts --→ ♥
Becoming a healthy vegan was is still a challenge.
We hope the vegan recipes and info here helps you along your way.
Looking for more? Go to the Summer Vegan Recipes Section.