Whip up a delicious smoothie with watermelon

Watermelon is truly one of summertime's sweetest treats — fun to eat and healthy too. The flesh may be red, pink, orange or yellow. There are seedless varieties too and super-sweet round ones that fit nicely into the refrigerator.

The sweetest ones grow during the long, hot summer months. Harvesting is critical because melons do not ripen after they have been removed from the vine. They should be picked when they are fully mature. No amount of thumping, tapping, sniffing, or shaking can actually give a clue to the ripeness of a melon.

Look for melons that are heavy and have a hard rind. Ninety per cent of watermelon is water. Probably the most important indicator of its ripeness is the underside which sits on the ground. Turn the melon over. It should be yellow or creamy coloured on the underside. If it is white or pale green, the melon is not ready to harvest.

The flesh should be deep-coloured with mature seeds. Most watermelons have dark brown or black seeds. The seedless variety produces a few white seeds. Once picked, uncut watermelon can be stored for about two weeks at room temperature, especially if it is about 45 to 50 degree C. Tightly cover the cut pieces in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Watermelons are low in calories and nutritious as they are rich in lycopene, second only to tomatoes. Recent research suggests that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, is effective in preventing some forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

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

Now, for a recipe.

Watermelon Smoothie

Servings: 4

Ingredients

Lemon juice: 1-8 ounces

Yoghurt: fat-free

Seeded watermelon, cubed: 3 cups

Fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled: 1 pint

Honey or strawberry jam: 1 tbsp

Ice cubes: 3

Method: In a blender or food processor, combine yoghurt, watermelon, lemon juice, strawberries, honey and ice cubes. Process till smooth and frothy. Serve in tall glasses with a straw.

The author is Sous Chef in Vivanta by Taj-Fisherman's Cove

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