Do you look forward to the juicy sweetness of a ripe melon in the summertime? From popular choices like watermelons to lesser-known varieties like casabas, there are many types of melons widely available nowadays. Whether you get them from the grocery store or the dirt in your backyard, this refreshing fruit is amazingly flavorful yet incredibly good for your health. Let’s explore eight unique ways to incorporate melon into a healthy diet!
Different types of melons may offer slightly different amounts of micronutrients. For instance, watermelons contain lycopene, which is good for cardiovascular and bone health. Cantaloupes are also full of folate, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which may help lower blood pressure and improve kidney and spleen performance. Aside from these specifics, most varieties across the board are packed with vitamins A, B6, C, and K, as well as potassium, magnesium, copper, and antioxidants. Melons are also high in fiber and water and low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Ways to Use Melon
The first and most obvious way to use melon is to chop it into cubes and eat it raw. They are delicious on their own as an energizing snack, but their delicate flavor perhaps works best as a complement with other ingredients. Let your creativity run free as you explore how melons can be used in cooking!
Imagine the exquisite balance of flavors as you combine succulent melon with salty ingredients like olives or feta, bringing forth a harmonious medley of taste sensations. Don’t forget that melons also effortlessly complement the subtle notes of various seafood options, such as squid, presenting an irresistible fusion of land and sea. Melons also hold their own in green salads, contributing the perfect blend of crunchy texture, juicy freshness, and natural sweetness that will elevate your meal to new heights.
A melon parfait can make a vibrant and flavorsome breakfast or dessert. First, layer some juicy melon chunks with creamy yogurt, crunchy granola, and any other favorite fruits or nuts. This enticing treat not only satisfies your taste buds but also offers a wholesome source of essential nutrients. For those looking for flair, try drizzling a touch of honey or sprinkling a pinch of cinnamon on top! Fresh, raw melon and yogurt are another match made in heaven.
Colorful and easy-to-make skewers are a great way to use your extra melon to add variety and flair to your snack times. First, chop up your melon of choice into chunks. Skewer the melon chunks alongside other fruits like strawberries, blueberries, peach and apple slices. Finally, have fun dunking the bites into yogurt with honey!
Have you ever heard of grilled melon? In fact, it’s a favorite in the American South. The searing heat caramelizes the sugars, bringing out the sweetness and infusing it with smoky flavor. Grilled melon is delectable as a side dish, as part of a salad, or paired with other grilled fruits. Try serving it as a crowd-pleasing side dish at your next barbecue or country boil.
You’ve heard of mango salsa, right? But have you ever considered using melon in your salsas? Melon chunks also add a sweet and juicy complement to the zestier ingredients of Latin food. Chop up your melon into thumbnail-sized cubes and toss it with lime juice, chopped tomatoes, your choice of spicy peppers, and cilantro. This fruity pico de gallo is a delightful topping on fish tacos or other Mexican-style seafood dishes. Alternatively, spread this topping over your next batch of avocado toast for a bright and flavorful twist on your favorite brunch food!
Though most people have heard of pickling cucumbers, it’s also possible to pickle other produce, like melons. Choose firm-fleshed melons like honeydew or cantaloupe that are just ripe but not too soft. The fruit itself works great for pickling, but you can also pickle the rind. Pack the melon tightly into a glass jar and cover it with vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. Let it soak in the brine for several days. Once the melon has been pickled, you can enjoy it in just about any of the ways mentioned above: in salads, side dishes, or part of a charcuterie board.
Melons can also be used in a variety of different drinks. Agua fresca is a refreshing Mexican beverage perfect for the hottest summer days. Simply blend the melon flesh with water and sugar, strain the mixture, and let it chill in the fridge for a few hours. Serve it with ice, and garnish it with fresh mint leaves for an extra burst of flavor.
Spa Water is a similar beverage used for detoxing and hydrating. Slice your melons, and add them to a pitcher of water. Feel free to get creative, adding your choice of other fresh fruits and herbs as well.
Melons are also a tasty addition to any smoothie recipe. Blend the fruit with milk, protein powder or peanut butter, greens, and other fruits for a healthy breakfast or post-workout shake. Try freezing chunks of melon on a cookie sheet to make them easier to blend.
In addition to vitamin-rich and hydrating beverages, melons can also create unique cocktails. First, purée your melon cubes and strain the liquid. You can add the juice directly to sparkling wine, gin and tonic, or a mojito. Alternatively, combine the juice with sugar to make a simple syrup for more sophisticated cocktails.
One easy way to preserve and make your extra melon last is to freeze it. Frozen melon retains much of its nutritional value if frozen at peak ripeness. Add the frozen cubes to smoothies as previously mentioned, or create fruity sorbets and homemade ice cream. You can even use it as a substitute for ice cubes in your drinks and let it melt into spa water. Just remember to store your frozen melon in an airtight bag to prevent freezer burn.
There’s a lot to love about melons. They are sweet, refreshingly hydrating, and full of essential vitamins and minerals. Not only this, but there are various ways to use them to keep your healthy diet interesting. Cut your cantaloupe into cubes for salads and skewers, or toss your watermelon on the grill. Get creative with a one-of-a-kind salsa or parfait made with honeydew, or purée it into a cocktail. If you grow melons in a home garden and have more than enough to spare, try preserving them through the winter by pickling or freezing them.
Don’t be afraid to try something that you never have before. Experimenting with melon in your diet is a great way to reap the many benefits of its fantastic nutrition!