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Family Nutrition

Melons: Colorful Summer Coolers

Watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydews and other melons are the highlight of summer produce choices. There’s no mystery about how to select them from the market, and even less to worry about when you take them home.

Melons are instant thirst-quenchers that boost our immune systems with Vitamin C, plus contain powerful antioxidants, Vitamin A, potassium and beta-carotene. But above all, they taste great, are simple to prepare, and are easy to keep on hand as a fast, healthy snack.

Pick a winner:
Use all your senses when selecting melons at a farm stand or grocery aisle:
  • Smell: When ripe, cantaloupes and honeydew melons will have a fruity aroma. Take a whiff of the end where the stem was attached.
  • Feel: Press gently at the non-stem end of the cantaloupe or honeydew melon. If it gives slightly, it is ripe. Ripe watermelons should be heavy for their size.
  • See: Look for a pale yellow spot where the watermelon was resting on the soil in the field. Pass up melons that have obvious bruises or cuts into the flesh.
  • Hear: Ripe watermelons sound hollow when you gently thump them with your finger. 

Keep them safe:
  • If you keep cantaloupes and honeydews at room temperature, they will continue to ripen, and eventually rot. Once ripe, place them, uncut, in the refrigerator for up to a week.   
  • Watermelons don’t continue to ripen after being picked, but they do soften and can rot. 

Prepare them well:
  • Wash the whole fruit in cold water before cutting, as the surface could have harmful salmonella bacteria. Use a wet cloth to wash off surface dirt and other residue from large watermelons.
  • Cut melons into sections, then remove the rind before serving. Remove the seeds from the center cavity of cantaloupes and honeydews before serving or storing.
  • Always wrap cut sections or place the cubes in an airtight container and refrigerate the fruit.
  • Use cut melon pieces within three days. 

Melon slices and chunks are great all by themselves, but try something new like:
Squeeze on a little lemon or lime juice and sprinkle with chili powder.
Use in smoothies.
Fill the cavity of half of a small cantaloupe with low-fat cottage cheese for a retro diet plate.
Make mini sandwiches with slices of watermelon as “bread” and feta or farmer’s cheese as the filling.
See our Fit Family recipes for more recipes and ideas!

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