Welcome to Sally and Carol Taylor Cook from Scratch.. Actually Carol Taylor does the cooking and I get to tell you about the health benefits of our featured foods. This week it is the turn of the Watermelon to get the Sally and Carol Treatment. We would eat regularly as watermelons were sold both on the side of the road and in supermarkets very inexpensively. We would eat, but I also used to blitz the flesh as a base for smoothies and also cocktails… it lasted longer with a touch of vodka!! Without alcohol it is a refreshing and hydrating treat for the whole family.
It took me a while to get around the pips in watermelon and learn the knack of spitting them out delicately rather than shooting them at the dog by accident. Once you master this quite simple dexterity you will have access to not only one of the most thirst quenching melons around but also a storehouse of health benefits.
Watermelons are obviously sweetest during the summer months but we were lucky enough that Spain has summer somewhere within its boundaries all year round and they are just as accessible at Christmas as in August.
Watermelons and health claims.
If you are an asthma or arthritis sufferer, eating this fruit year round may help improve the symptoms of your condition. Watermelon also has gained some recognition with regard to other medical problems too such as atherosclerosis, diabetes and colon cancer.
THE HISTORY OF THE WATERMELON.
Watermelons first originated south of us in Africa and were first used medicinally by the Egyptians, but obviously the fruit was most prized for its water content in countries where rain was in short supply. Watermelons are now found in Asia, particularly in China and also in Russia where the fruit is a major crop for export. The United States is a major grower but you will find it growing in many desert countries or islands that have water shortages such as Iran and Turkey.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF WATERMELON.
Apart from being a wonderful fruit packed with vitamin C, watermelon has something in common with the tomato and that is it’s very high concentration of Lycopene.
Lycopene not only gives fruit that vibrant red colour, but it also acts as an incredibly powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect us against the free radicals that cause oxidative damage to our cells, often resulting in serious illness such as cancer. It would also seem that healthy levels of lycopene in our fat tissues are also associated with reduced risk of heart attacks. This is due to the prevention of oxidation of cholesterol that so often leads to atherosclerosis and heart attacks.
Vitamin C and Vitamin A work on free radicals as well and are particularly linked to those that cause an increase in the severity of certain inflammatory diseases such as asthma and arthritis.
Vitamin A is essential for our healthy eyesight, especially at night. It helps cells produce normally which is why it is important in the first few months of pregnancy. It is also necessary for the health of our skin, the mucus membranes in our respiratory system (hence its benefits for asthma sufferers), bones, soft tissues and digestive and urinary tracts.
WHAT OTHER NUTRIENTS IN WATERMELONS ARE BENEFICIAL?
VITAMIN B1 (Thiamin) is a water- soluble vitamin, which means that it cannot be stored in the body. Any excess is excreted in our urine so it is essential that we obtain sufficient from our diet. Vitamin B1 helps to fuel our bodies by converting blood sugar into energy and also keeps our mucus membranes healthy. It is also needed to work with other B vitamins in maintaining a healthy nervous system
VITAMIN B6 (Pyridoxine) is the Master Vitamin for processing Amino Acids – the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. It assists in the formation of several neurotransmitters and can therefore help regulate mood. It has been shown to help lower homocysteine levels in the blood linked to heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. It produces haemoglobin the oxygen carrying pigment in the blood. It helps the release of carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscles for energy. It is involved in the production of antibodies and it helps balance female hormones. It is needed for the production of serotonin along with tryptophan and B12.
MAGNESIUM is an essential mineral needed for bone, protein and fatty acid formation, forming new cells, activating the B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood and forming ATP the fuel the body runs on. The secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium. It is needed to balance calcium in the body and too much can result in very low levels of calcium.
POTASSIUM is the main cation (positively charged electrolyte). It reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell. It allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain the correct fluid balance in the body. It also regulates levels of acidity and alkalinity in the body. It is also required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It is connected to normal heart rhythms.
BUYING THE BEST WATERMELONS.
There are about 1200 different varieties of watermelon and when you are picking one in the supermarket make sure the melon is symmetrical and firm with no cuts or bruises. The heavier it feels the better, as it is 92% water. If it feels a little light then it may be dry inside. If you are buying cut watermelon make sure the skin is bright red as pink flesh with white pith means it is past its sell by date. Eat within a couple of days. You can store at room temperature but it is best served chilled.
Now it is time to hand over to the expertise of Carol Taylor to transform this wonderful watermelon into delicious dishes.
Watermelon is a virtual powerhouse of nutrients, packed with Vitamin C and very readily available here in Thailand. It is used in smoothies, fruit shakes, restaurants always give a plate of watermelon after a meal.
I generally buy it ready sliced as I have a little lady just round the corner to me who sells the fruit freshly cut and bagged I also like to support local businesses.
When you are buying watermelon always pick the heaviest one as if they are light it means they are older and drying out.
Now how often have you bought water melon and thrown away the rind?? Hands up! I have or I did until I discovered a lovely recipe for Pickled Watermelon rind.
Now I make a lot of pickles and this one thing I hadn’t thought of pickling… you live and learn don’t you?
- 4lb of Watermelon
- 1 chilli thinly sliced
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger finely sliced or diced
- 2 star Anise
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 4 tsp salt I use fresh mineral salt dried here
- 1 cup of rice vinegar
- 1 cup of sugar
Using a vegetable peeler remove the outer green rind and slice the watermelon into I inch slices. Cut away all but 1/4 inch of the flesh (it is) the white part we are pickling. The red flesh keep for smoothies or ice cream or a nice salad with feta cheese.
Then cut the rind into 1 inch pieces.
Add the chilli, ginger, star anise, salt, pepper, rice vinegar and sugar plus ½ cup of water together in a pan, bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the watermelon rind and bring back to a rolling boil and then again reducing the heat to a simmer for 5 mins or until the rinds are just tender. Remove the pan from the heat, and leave the liquid to cool down. You may need to weigh the watermelon down with a plate or lid, as it needs to stay submerged in the liquid until cool.
Once cooled then transfer to a container with a well fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before you eat…This will keep refrigerated for about 2/3 weeks if it lasts that long…lol
Enjoy with cold meats and cheese or just on its own from the container…
I just love watermelon any which way and sometimes I just cut them into rectangles and thread onto bamboo skewers. Then just sprinkle over some taco or fajita seasoning or I have a chilli and sugar mix which we eat with fruit and viola a fruit kebab with a bit of spice..
Watermelon and Gremolata
Another great way to eat watermelon is to cut it into triangles. Marinate these thick-cut “steak” fruit slices in a mixture of white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and rosemary. Grill watermelon slices and top them with a gremolata of walnuts, lemon zest and fresh parsley and wait for your taste buds to do a dance…
For the marinade:
- ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper
For the gremalata:
- ¼ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts.
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp grated lemon peel
Mix vinegar, oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Reserve 2 tbsp for drizzling the grilled watermelon. Put the watermelon steaks in a dish add the remaining marinade and put in the refrigerator for 20 minutes turning the steaks half way through.
Remove watermelon steaks from marinade. Reserve leftover marinade for brushing watermelon during grilling.
Grill watermelon steaks over a high heat for 2-4 minutes per side or until the grill marks appear, brushing with the leftover marinade.
To serve, cut watermelon steaks in half and drizzle with the reserved marinade. Then sprinkle with the walnut gremolata.
Watermelon smoothies are a lovely thing….
I am really getting into this smoothie making and I think this is one of my favourite smoothies.
I am learning to get the right amount and what I do is take the glass I am going to drink it from and fill the glass with my fruit that way I make just enough and if I am making more than one glass then I double up but it eliminates the guesswork.
Today’s smoothie was a mixture of fruit and vegetables.
I used a large chunk of Pineapple, Watermelon, yellow melon and dragon fruit, a slice or two of tomato, a slice of beetroot, a piece of carrot and a little ice.
Then put all the fruit into the liquidiser and a blitz for a minute or two and voila a lovely smoothie which makes your taste buds just dance in your mouth.
Or if your fancy is for iced tea then:- Watermelon and Basil Iced tea is amazing…
- 1/8th of a medium watermelon cut into small triangles
- 8 tea bags
- 8 cups of boiling water
- A sm bunch of basil
- Sugar to taste if required.
Just pour the boiling water over the tea bags in a heat proof jug, steep for 10 minutes and remove the tea bags.
Allow the tea to cool down and refrigerate until cold.
Before serving add watermelon and basil to an individual glass with crushed ice and pour tea over the ice.
Serve and enjoy!
Prawn Salad with Watermelon.
- 1lb of cooked peeled prawns
- 4 cups of watermelon chopped
- 2 avocados chopped
- 1 medium red onion sliced
- 2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
- Juice of a lime
- 1 tsp of raw honey
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ¾ tsp mineral salt
- A generous twist of black pepper
- A generous handful of coriander
In a large salad bowl combine the prawns, avocado, onion, jalapenos, and watermelon.
Whisk together lime juice, honey, salt, pepper and oil.
If you are not serving immediately, then refrigerate separately.
10 minutes before serving pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with coriander. This gives the flavours time to blend and develop.
- 4 cups (600 grams) seedless watermelon, diced
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) FULL FAT coconut milk, shaken well
- Juice from 1 lemon…I use lime
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (optional)
In blender, combine watermelon, coconut milk lemon/lime juice, and pure maple syrup (if using for additional sweetness). I find watermelon sweet enough for me so I don’t use additional sweetener.
Blend until smooth.
Pour watermelon coconut puree into a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid (about 4 hours).
Remove from baking dish and with a sharp knife, cut frozen puree into ice cube sized pieces. Place fruit cubes in a food processor and process until the texture is silky smooth.
Transfer to container for freezing until firm (about 4 hours).
That’s all for now I hope you enjoyed these recipes and reading about the health benefits of the watermelon….
Again my thanks to Sally for allowing me to add my recipes to her wonderful informative post on the health benefits of the lovely watermelon.
As always I am so grateful to Carol for the time and effort that she puts into preparing these recipes and sharing them with us. A wonderful collaborator.
About Carol Taylor
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Connect to Carol
Please feel free to share thanks Sally
If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/