By Kevann Jordan, Recent ASU Nutrition Student
This delicious melon requires a long growing season; Arizona’s warm climate is perfect for thriving watermelon cultivation. In 1998, Arizona was ranked 5th in the United States for watermelon production, with much of this crop being shipped domestically. In fact, Arizona produced so much watermelon in 1998 we produced 5.9% of the United States watermelon supply.
With Watermelon’s need for at least 80 days of warm ground to really produce prime melon makes it easy to see why Arizona’s watermelon supply is primarily grown in Maricopa, Yuma, La Paz, Cochise and Pinal County. 92.5% of Arizona’s watermelon is grown in Maricopa, Yuma and Pinal counties.
And Arizona’s watermelons are delicious and nutritious. Who doesn’t love a crisp juicy watermelon? There is a great site for everything you need to know about watermelon, www.watermelon.org. This site will teach you everything you need to know, from using the whole melon, watermelon nutritional facts, how to pick a good melon, ideas for kids, and more. Almost anything you can think of can be found on this site.
Watermelon is a low-calorie snack, only 80 calories per serving, but they are not low in nutrient content. Watermelon is high in Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Potassium, Lycopene and water content for hydration. This is a great treat that is easy to get kids to enjoy on a hot summer day, one that will cut down on muscle cramps, dehydration and help fight free radicals from the sun. Load up on watermelon this summer.
Now some of you might be like me and find yourself wondering what else can I do with watermelon besides slice it up and eat it. Are there recipes? Are there any creative ideas that use this delicious treat? Surprisingly there is a lot that you can use this melon for popsicles, frosted bites, on brownie bites, smoothies, salads and homemade sodas. Below is one of my family’s favorite recipes using watermelon in a kind of atypical way.
In addition, there is a lot of fun you can have with watermelons. You can grow them, which is a very fun activity for younger kids. You can carve them and have carving contests. Each summer our family starts the summer off with a BBQ-beach day with games and camping. One of the games that we play, if you want to call it a game is Exploding Watermelon. (This is a fun game for all ages.) Buy one watermelon or if you want a watermelon for each member of the family, a box of rubber bands (the traditional rubber bands that pull your hair out) of various sizes and widths. One by one start to put the rubber bands around the watermelon, at the centermost part of the melon, keep adding them until POP!!! Your watermelon will actually burst from the pressure of the rubber bands.
Another great benefit of watermelon is its high level of ‘water’ (WATER-melon). Watermelon has great detoxifying benefits. This is a recipe for a delicious detoxifying smoothie.
Super Green Detox Smoothie
1 cup Watermelon
Handful of parsley
Big Handful of Kale
1-3 Tablespoons Matcha
1 cup pineapple juice
Juice of half of a lime
My Family’s Favorite Watermelon Recipe
Tomato, Watermelon and Basil Skewers
By: Giada De Laurentiis
Total Time: 20 mins
Serving Size: 6-8 servings
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 (4-5 pound) watermelon, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
32 small basil leaves
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt (to taste)
Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
Starting with the watermelon cubes, push the watermelon to the very tips of the skewer. Then skewer a basil leaf, then a tomato half. Continue with another watermelon, basil leaf, and a tomato half. Place the skewer on a serving platter so it stands upright, using the lowest watermelon cube as a base. Continue with the remaining skewers.
Drizzle the skewers with the reserved balsamic syrup and the olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt (don’t skip this step, it really makes the dish). Enjoy!