Sweet watermelon is lycopene-rich and refreshing in this summertime salad

·3 min read
Blueberry and Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint.
Blueberry and Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint.

Watermelon is an iconic summertime fruit. Sweet and refreshing, it can be included in more recipes than you ever imagined — starting with this salad.

Blueberry-Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint blends several flavors: sweet watermelon, tart blueberries, salty feta cheese, cool mint leaves and tangy vinegar. The salad’s colors (red, white and blue) add a festive flair to any potluck table and are especially fitting this Fourth of July weekend.

Watermelons can be oval, oblong or spherical. The pulp is usually red but can also be white, yellow or pink. Some varieties contain numerous seeds, but seedless varieties are readily available. It’s hard to know whether a watermelon will be flavorful until you cut into it and taste it, but you can increase your chances of getting a tasty melon by choosing one that's firm and heavy. Look for a pale or yellow area on the skin where the melon would have rested on the ground during ripening. If that’s missing, it means your watermelon was picked prematurely. Avoid melons that have cracks or soft spots.

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You might think that the pulp is the only edible part of the watermelon, but there are uses for the whole melon. In the past, kids often had watermelon-seed-spitting contests. Now smart cooks roast the seeds with a little salt and oil and serve them as a snack.

The watermelon rind is also edible. Blend it into smoothies for a subtly tangy flavor or add it to a sweet and sour stir-fry. The green skin is similar to that of its cousin, the cucumber. You can choose to peel it off or use the whole rind.

Food safety tip: Before cutting into any melon, wash it with water to remove any dirt and bacteria that could spread onto the fruit or cutting board.

Watermelon has only 10 grams of sugar and 46 calories per cup. A one-cup portion provides 14% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, along with lots of lycopene, the red carotenoid found in red and pink fruits and veggies. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that reduces the risk of some cancers and of age-related macular degeneration, a common and serious eye disease.

Watermelon is 92% water and 100% fun to eat, especially in our colorful salad. Enjoy some today!

Bethany Thayer is a registered dietitian nutritionist with Henry Ford Health. For more recipes and health information, visit henryford.com/blog. For questions about today’s recipe, email HenryFordLiveWell@hfhs.org.

Blueberry-Watermelon Salad with Mint and Feta

Blueberry and Watermelon salad with mint.
Blueberry and Watermelon salad with mint.

Serves: 8  / Prep time: 30 minutes  / Total time: 30 minutes

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup finely diced red onion

8 cups diced watermelon

2 cups fresh blueberries

¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, and diced red onion. Add the diced watermelon, blueberries, mint and feta cheese to the bowl. Gently toss to coat.

From Henry Ford LiveWell.

122 calories (47% from fat), 6 grams fat (1 gram sat. fat), 19 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 74 mg sodium, 4 mg cholesterol, 53 mg calcium,  3 grams fiber. Food exchanges: 1 fruit, 1 fat.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Quick and easy watermelon salad is lycopene-rich and refreshing