Watermelon is a mood food
As most of my friends fly south for the winter, I thought I’d inject a little sun into my own life with watermelon. Deep into February as we are, a food to lift our spirits seems in order.
I’ve covered some of this before, but for newer readers, are you surprised to learn that watermelon is a good source of the mood vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B6 (pyridoxine)? I was. Turns out thiamine is important for maintaining electrolytes and transmitting nervous-system signals throughout the body. Pyridoxine works with enzymes that convert food into cellular energy.
Who needs warm weather… Let’s party!
Watermelon is a berry
Another surprising fact about watermelon… its fruit is a pepo, a special kind of berry with a thick rind and fleshy center.
Watermelon pepos offer the most nutrition per calorie of any common food.
Red is the give-away. Bright colors signal a big pay-off in lycopene, an antioxidant repeatedly studied in humans and found to protect against a whole slew of cancers… prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and colorectal, for starters.
Watermelon offers lots of beta-carotene and another antioxidant, vitamin C. Besides helping lycopene to ward off cancer, these vitamins also battle heart disease, arthritis, and asthma.
Then there is the mineral potassium, guardian of our cardiovascular system, brain, and kidneys.
Finally, watermelon provides lots of the master mineral magnesium. Magnesium is the big boss for over 300 cellular metabolic functions. Poor soils make magnesium scarce in today’s foods. Lack of magnesium is related to irritability, tension, sleep disorders, and muscular cramping, including the heart muscle (attack!).
How to enjoy watermelon
Watermelons retain most of their nutrition even after being cut and stored in the fridge. But watermelon is best eaten at room temperature when the flavor, plus the phytonutrient capacity, is at its best.
Just quarter a large watermelon berry and slice off slabs. Eat the flesh right off the rind and spit out the seeds.
- one cup watermelon cubes
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- one cup kale, ribs removed and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil
- 1 ounce goat cheese
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Chop the flesh into bite-sized chunks.
- Drizzle them with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or vodka. Let them soak it up for a few minutes.
- Use them to top a plateful of greens, kale in my photo, which I drizzled with avocado oil and massaged well.
- Top with crumbled feta cheese or, my favorite, goat cheese.
Vinny’s pink watermelon cooler
- 2 cups watermelon cubes, frozen
- 4 ice cubes
- Juice of one fresh lemon (1/4 cup)
- Juice of one fresh lime (2 tablespoons)
- 2-4 tablespoons of any sugar syrup you have. I used home-made red-current couli, But any fruit syrup, even grenadine (from pomegranates) or maple syrup, will do. I use an equivalent amount of stevia unless it’s a special occasion.
- 2 pinches of salt
- 2 pinches of black pepper
- 3-4 ounces raspberry vodka (optional)
- ¼ to 1/3 cup club soda, depending on whether you add alcohol or not and the size of your glass
- Blend the whole works except for the club soda for a few seconds.
- If you want to serve some of the cocktails without alcohol, leave the vodka out and add it back to the glasses of the folks who want it.
- Fill each glass about halfway with the watermelon fizz. Add 1 ounce alcohol to each glass if you didn’t include it in the mix. Top up with club soda. Adjust flavor with more lemon juice if needed.
- Spoon some of the pink foam into each glass and top with a raspberry or a mint leaf to garnish.
When the winter blahs get you down, break out some watermelon and smile :).