Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Watermelon rich in nutrients, flavor

August 29, 2001


What is the nutritional value of watermelon?

Watermelons are low in calories and very nutritious. Watermelon is also high in lycopene, second only to tomatoes. Recent research suggests that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, helps prevent some forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

According to research conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, men who consumed a lycopene-rich diet were half as likely to suffer a heart attack as those who had little or no lycopene in their diets.

Watermelon is also high in vitamin C and vitamin A, in the form of disease-fighting beta carotene. Research also suggests that red-pigmented foods provide this protection.

Lycopene and beta carotene work in conjunction with other plant chemicals not found in vitamin or mineral supplements.

Watermelon also contains potassium, which is believed to help control blood pressure and possibly prevent strokes.

Here are the USDA Nutrition Facts for a wedge of watermelon, or about 1 2/3 cup: 92 cal., 1.77 g pro., 20.54 g carb., 1.43 g dietary fiber, 332 mg potassium, 27.46 mg vitamin C, 1046.76 IU vitamin A.

Should I wash watermelons before I slice them?

Yes, I suggest washing whole watermelons with clean water before slicing to remove potential bacteria.

How do you make melon balls?

Cut the watermelon in half lengthwise, then in half widthwise to make quarters.

Watermelon balls can be scooped right out of the rind. Use a melon baller and a twist of the wrist to create perfect balls. The watermelon shell can be used to hold the melon balls as well as other fruit.

I've seen recipes for watermelon sorbets and granitas. What's the difference?

The difference between a sorbet and a granita is in the texture.

Sorbets are smooth, while granitas are coarse. Here are recipes for a granita, a sorbet and a smoothie that you may enjoy.

Watermelon Granita

5 cups seeded watermelon

1 cup sugar syrup (recipe below)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Thin watermelon wedges, for garnish

Puree watermelon in a food processor.

Pour into a 13-inch by 9-inch pan. Stir in the syrup and lemon juice. Freeze for about 4 hours or until frozen.

To serve, scrape up granita with a large spoon and place in goblets, tulip-shaped wine glasses or ice cream dishes. Garnish with a thin wedge of watermelon.

Makes 4 servings.

To make sugar syrup: Combine 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for a minute, stirring constantly, until all sugar dissolves. Cool in refrigerator.

Watermelon Sorbet

1/2 medium watermelon, sliced lengthwise

1 6-ounce can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted

1 15 1/4-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained

1/2 cup sugar

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Scoop out watermelon. Place in blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour puree through a wire mesh strainer into bowl, discarding pulp and any seeds.

Measure 8 cups pureed watermelon; add lemonade concentrate, pineapple and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Pour mixture into a 13-inch by 9-inch pan; cover and freeze until firm. Break frozen mixture into chunks. Place half of mixture in blender or food processor and process until smooth. Repeat with remaining frozen mixture.

Garnish if desired and serve immediately.

Makes about 9 cups.

Watermelon Smoothie

8 ounces fat-free lemon yogurt

3 cups cubed, seeded watermelon

1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled

1 tablespoon honey or strawberry jam

3 ice cubes

In a blender or food processor, combine yogurt, watermelon, strawberries, honey and ice cubes.

Process until smooth and frothy. Serve in tall glasses with a straw.

Makes 4 servings.

Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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