If you’re reading my posts for the first time, you might seriously be doubting the headline and simply reading on because of intrigue, but I promise, these national food holidays are for real. They tend to be timely for what’s in season and bring some great offers to foodies looking for a deal or interesting inspiration for new recipes. So on that thought, here are few ideas for using watermelon and nuts (not necessarily together) in your meals this week.
Watermelons are a terrific source of water, which might be why we crave them during summer months. They are cool, refreshing and give us a much needed supply of water to hydrate when it’s hot. More than just a water source, watermelons deliver a bounty of health benefits. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, which promotes eye health, vitamin B6, which produces brain chemicals used to help us cope with anxiety and stress, and vitamin C, which boosts our immune systems. Additionally, watermelon is a good source of potassium, which is used to maintain water balance in our bodies and can help prevent muscle cramps. But rather than simply slicing it up at your next picnic, try these twists on a favorite summer treat:
1. Make a fruit salad with a mix of chopped watermelon, crumbled blue cheese and sliced basil.
2. Make watermelon dippers. Simply cut watermelon into sticks or small wedges. Then mix the following ingredients for a tasty dip:
8 ounces sour cream
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3. Make a watermelon margarita. In a blender, mix 2 cups seeded watermelon chunks
2 ounces coconut flavored rum
½ cup shredded coconut
Juice from 1 fresh lime
1 cup ice
Blend until smooth. Makes one margarita.
Make it non-alcoholic by substituting water for the rum.
4. Make watermelon kabob appetizers by threading a cube of watermelon, a cube of feta cheese and a quarter slice of lime on a toothpick.
Nuts also pack a punch when it comes to health benefits, providing a great source of protein and heart healthy fats. On National Grab Some Nuts Day, do just that. Nuts are a more satisfying snack than processed food like potato chips. And they’re as readily available in convenient snack size packs as their potato rival. Did you know that not all ‘nuts’ are nuts? Walnuts are not a nut. Almonds are a nut. Peanuts are actually legumes. To benefit from their high fiber and vitamin E content and heart-healthy omega fats, try adding nuts to your diet in a few simple ways:
1. Chop and add them to your morning oatmeal or cereal. Sprinkle them on yogurt.
2. Make your own trail mix with ingredients you like such as dried cranberries, dark chocolate chips, grain-based granola chunks and your favorite nut.
3. Sprinkle chopped nuts- like pecans or almonds- on your salad for added crunch with more nutritional value than croutons.
And for those of you waiting to find out how to combine these two national holidays into one food event, try making a Watermelon Pistachio Sundae today. It mixes the perfect amount of sweet and salt.
Arrange 3 cups chopped and seeded watermelon in the bottoms of 6 sundae cups or martini glasses. Top each with 1 scoop of raspberry sorbet. Drizzle with marshmallow sauce (jarred from the grocery store) and candied pistachios (recipe below).
1 lightly beaten egg white
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup roasted, salted and shelled pistachios
To candy pistachios, preheat oven to 300ºF. In a medium mixing bowl, combine egg white, syrup, brown sugar and salt. Stir in pistachios until evenly coated. Spread on foil lined baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes, stirring once, until crisp and lightly browned. Cool. Break apart.
Local pecan farms are set up at farmer’s markets all over town, providing the freshest pecans possible. Watermelons can be found everywhere right now from the local grocery to farmer’s markets to roadside stands. Check out and sample several varieties this weekend at Whole Foods between noon and 3 pm.
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