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September 15, 2011

Nature’s Ice Cream

I often point out that learning to eat food in moderation while enjoying a variety of foods has meant re-training my taste buds. There are so many additives, food substitutes and chemicals in over-processed junk food that often when we start a healthier eating regime, so-called ‘healthy’ foods taste like cardboard.

In my book, I write about giving taste buds a couple days (or more) to adjust to the new way of eating – while assuring readers that eventually the healthier food will taste better. And yes, this means the unhealthier foods will begin to taste worse. In fact, I can tell when food is overly processed with too many additives, too much salt or (heaven forbid) has trans fats as an ingredient. It’s not a matter of not eating this junk to avoid going back to weighing over 450 pounds – I simply hate the way these foods taste and hate how I would feel (lethargic, nauseas, physically ill) if I still consumed them.

Thankfully, nature has some goodies of its own that can rival even the sweetest cakes or frozen treats. And one of these bounties is good ol’ watermelon. When fresh, crisp and sweet, I find it as enjoyable as a bowl of ice cream. And yes, I still enjoy naturally made ice cream or frozen yogurt from time to time. But I balance those treats out with fresh fruit. And during this time of year (just before the winter months hit), I do my best to enjoy watermelon for all it’s worth.

Studies have revealed that besides being delicious, watermelon delivers several health benefits, including being an excellent source of Vitamin C as well as a good source of Vitamins A and B6. It also contains the carotenoid antioxidant lycopene, which can help neutralize free radicals and help prevent prostate cancer. Watermelon has been shown to reduce the risk of other types of cancers as well. Plus, its high water content makes it great for hydration. What’s more, it’s a terrific dessert or snack for kids and can help them understand that not every ‘treat’ has to come covered in fudge.

When selecting watermelon, I always go for seedless. I’m not a happy camper if I must interrupt my chewing with spitting seeds into a nearby napkin (even though I suppose it burns a few more calories).

According to produce specialists, Mid-June through mid-August is when watermelon is at its ripest (with July being the most prized month of all). Good watermelon can still be found even now. But its time is growing nigh. Even if imported from warmer climates during the winter, it’s likely not as delicious as the fruit the summertime month’s offer. So let’s go watermelon shopping, shall we?

When picking a whole watermelon, size matters since 80% of a watermelon is water. Pick one of the largest you can find, while making sure the exterior doesn’t have any visible cuts, bruising, dents or soft spots. Experts also suggest looking for a yellowish area on the melon’s exterior, which indicates its ripeness after sitting in the sun.

Next, do what you’ve likely seen other shoppers do – knock-knock on the exterior with your knuckle. You’re listening for a slight echo to your knock, which indicates that the fruit is ripe. A dull thud could indicate otherwise.

When preparing watermelon for guests, or myself, I make sure to make the eating experience as relaxed and “special” as possible – therefore I don’t usually serve it in wedges. Giving food a more delectable presentation is something I strive for almost every time I eat. This helps my brain, eyes and other senses know that I’m eating, which helps ‘up’ the enjoyment factor – and, therefore, the satisfaction and fullness factors.

I suggest slicing watermelon into quarters, length wise, then taking a quarter and carefully running a knife along the red center’s outer edge and the whiteness of the rind. Cut all the way around on both sides, so that the whole quarter of the red stuff could slip out. But don’t slip it out just yet. Next, cut the fruit from side to side, on both exposed sides of the quarter. Finally, cut across your long slices, from left to right, leaving about 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch between each slice. (Note: You can click on the pictures to see close-ups of slicing details.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, slide your perfectly prepared chunks into serving bowls. But before you serve the fruit, put the bowls into the freezer for 5-10 minutes to give the fruit an extra kick of crispiness.

When time to serve, pull the bowls from the freezer and serve with a napkin underneath (to keep the bowl from being too chilly to the touch). The watermelon chunks should have a minimal layer of frost that kicks up the flavor and the crunchy quotient, making for a texture-y, sweet and delicious eating experience. (Careful not to keep the chunks in the freezer too long or the pieces will freeze and require a little defrosting before being comfortably edible).

Saving the uneaten portion of the watermelon can be handled two ways – either by “chunking up” the remaining portion and putting it into airtight containers and storing in the fridge; or wrapping up the other half or quarters (rind and all) in cellophane wrap and then wrapping them in an additional plastic bag before putting into the fridge (to avoid having to clean up leaked watermelon juice at a later time). Plan on consuming the leftover fruit sooner rather than later to enjoy it at its freshest.

Watermelon. It’s not just for summer picnics anymore. And when enjoyed at its peak, it can kick ice cream’s butt anytime. Or, at the very least, tie it in deliciousness.

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17 Responses to “Nature’s Ice Cream”

  1. Amy says:

    Thanks for the information. I have hypertension and watermelon helps there too.

  2. Gregg says:

    I appreciate the additional info, Amy. Merci!

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  11. Kristi says:

    This is a great idea and it made me want to share with you the recipe for “One Ingredient Ice Cream” that I found on another blog. I’m not sure which blog it was, but I want to say that it was from Our Best Bites (ourbestbites.com).

    To make One Ingredient Ice Cream you take some bananas, peel them and slap them in the freezer. When they are nice and frozen solid, take them out and throw them into the food processor. Process them until the consistency resembles ice cream. There is a stage that is kind of granulated banana-y and might cause you to question the whole idea, but just keep processing. I find that it helps to give it a stir now and then with a spatula – once the spatula leaves it looking very much like ice cream, you are ready to chow down. Serve in your favorite ice cream dishes with whatever toppings you please (or without! It is very tasty on it’s own.) for a nice, cold, healthy ice cream-y dish.

    As in your usage of watermelon, it is just a serving of fruit treated a little differently than usual. If you plan your meals and snacks properly, this does not actually have to be a treat. This can be a daily enjoyment if you wish. I didn’t specify how many bananas to use because this works great with just one banana or as many as you can cram into your processor. Use your best judgment and enjoy! 🙂

  12. Gregg says:

    Wow, Kristi. I’ve never heard of this before. I can’t wait to try it. Thanks so much for the share! (P.S. Thanks for warning me/us about the stage that might have us questioning the whole idea — hilarious!) 😀

  13. Sharon says:

    Thanks for sharing Gregg!! I have always loved watermelon, but I think I “forgot” about it. If that makes any sense? I am soo psyched to be trying all of these “new” foods to my palette. Years of eating processed food on the go have gotten me to the point that I am at. Unhealthy, overweight, tired…blah..
    Thank again!! 🙂

  14. Gregg says:

    I am on your journey with you, Sharon. We all are! Keep up the amazing work and thanks again for sharing your insights. They inspire me and all of us! Truly — you’re not just making a difference in your life, but in others’ lives as well!

  15. […] 1 Frozen Banana (cut into chunks) 2 cups Watermelon Chunks (seeded) 1 cup Ice Cubes (cracked or slightly crushed) 1/2 cup of fresh Orange […]

  16. […] Ingredients: 6 cups of fresh, chopped seedless watermelon 2 cups of fresh blueberries 2 cups of fresh, sliced strawberries 2 cups of green seedless grapes […]

  17. […] my helpful tips on choosing and preparing watermelon, click […]


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