NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION UPDATE: WHO WANTS SOME WATERMELON GAZPACHO?

February 28th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

picLast month’s Sweet & Sour Watermelon Chicken marked my first attempt this year at fulfilling my 2015 new year’s resolution of preparing more meals with watermelon as an ingredient. Overall, I’d say it turned out well, and I’m proud to announce that I’m sticking to my resolution with yet another watermelon-related recipe.

This one is for Watermelon Gazpacho, which, even without the watermelon, is a dish I’ve never prepared. In fact, I had never even eaten gazpacho until two days ago.

For those like me who were blissfully unaware of the joys of this dish, gazpacho is a Spanish/Portuguese raw vegetable soup that’s typically served cold. Because it’s cold, it’s especially popular in the summer months, but you can enjoy it year-round, too.

Traditionally, gazpacho is made with a tomato base, but the recipe outlined below uses watermelon. Does that mean you can swap out the tomato sauce in your pizza with a watermelon sauce? Maybe, but probably not.

If anyone has any ideas for watermelon recipes that you’d like me to try out in next month’s new year’s resolution update, leave a comment!

WATERMELON GAZPACHO

INGREDIENTS

5 cups chopped Seedless Watermelon
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp chopped jalapeno
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 cup finely chopped seedless Watermelon, reserved for garnish
1/2 to 1 cup finely diced avocado, reserved (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Puree the first 10 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Stir in the finely chopped watermelon and avocado at serving time.

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As you can see from this photo, this dish is heavy on veggies, and that’s a good thing. And, yes, that’s a yellow bell pepper. I accidentally bought one because I read “yellow onion” and “green bell pepper” in the ingredients list and thought I was supposed to buy a yellow bell pepper, too. You can add a yellow pepper if you want, but I didn’t.

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This recipe is actually pretty simple to make. Just chop up the watermelon and veggies and toss them in a blender with some of the other ingredients. That’s pretty much it!

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Now all that’s left to do is push the “puree” button. My blender doesn’t have a puree button, but I found a few that worked. And yes, I remembered to put the lid on before I pushed the button. That’s a mistake I’ll only make once.

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After you blend it, just pop it in the fridge for an hour or two to get nice and cold. When it’s ready to serve, all you need to do is mix in some diced watermelon. As for the taste, I’ll be honest with you and admit that it was good (the cilantro gave it a nice, fresh taste), but it wasn’t really my thing. Regardless, I had fun making my first gazpacho!

For more recipes using watermelon, check out the “Recipes” section
of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

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HOW TO CUT A WATERMELON TO AVOID GETTING A MESSY FACE

February 25th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

You know how your face gets all messy when you eat a slice or quarter wedge of watermelon? Of course you do (I know I do). It starts out clean, but when you get closer to the rind, things can get a little out of control.

Of course, that messiness is part of the charm and joy of eating watermelon slices — and a little watermelon juice on your cheek isn’t all that bad in the grand scheme of things — but if you want to clean up your act a little, go ahead and check out the video below. The secret: Just two small cuts to the rind. It’s really that simple.

The video is made by a very funny and entertaining man who calls himself the “Crazy Russian Hacker.” His objective: to shed some light on some of life’s best hacks. Other videos by the Crazy Russian Hacker include “How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener,” the right way to fry an egg and a collection of five life hacks that opens with a tip about cutting perfect watermelon cubes.

So, will I start cutting my watermelon slices differently based on this lesson? Maybe, maybe not (but probably not). Like I said, I don’t mind a little watermelon juice. What about you? Will you give this trick a try?

UP NEXT: My next new year’s resolution recipe

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A QUEEN IS CROWNED AT THE 2015 NATIONAL WATERMELON ASSOCIATION CONVENTION!

February 23rd, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

It’s February, which means the members of the National Watermelon Association (NWA) came together this past weekend for the group’s annual convention in La Quinta, California.

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The convention featured the usual meetings and seminars about all things watermelon, but the NWA members also took time to have a little fun. There was a seed-spitting contest and a watermelon-eating contest, but the highlight of the four-day gathering was the selection and crowing of the 2015 National Watermelon Queen.

Regional watermelon queens from around the nation squared off in a grueling process to determine which one would earn the national title. Alright, it probably wasn’t “grueling” — in fact, I’m told the process is actually quite enjoyable for the queens — but the judges and potential queens definitely took the selection process seriously.

In the end, the winner was Emily Brown of Vincennes, Indiana. Emily was previously the Illiana chapter Watermelon Queen and inherits the National Watermelon Queen title from Brandi Harrison. We interviewed Brandi here on the blog last year, and we’ll interview Emily in an entry in the near future.

Until then, a big congratulations goes out to Emily on her new position as the queen of the watermelon industry!

UP NEXT: How to cut a watermelon to avoid getting a messy face

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HE’S A HIKER, HE’S A WATERMELON LOVER, HE’S THE WATERMELON MAN

February 20th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

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As the Watermelon Guy, I’m constantly looking for new and interesting ways that people use watermelon. Bold, beautiful creations have been produced from the minds of watermelon lovers worldwide.

I’d like to say that I’d do just about anything for watermelon. When I was in the Navy, we used to run four miles up a steep mountain trail where we could see watermelons growing in a patch at the bottom of the hill. I often considered swiping one of those melons for myself, but I didn’t. And while I’ve never really combined running and watermelon in the same activity, this story does.

Jamie Trufin, a 17-year-old high school student from Arizona (above), has earned the title of “Watermelon Man” by carrying two watermelons with him to the top of Camelback Mountain… barefoot. Every Wednesday afternoon, Trufin takes to Camelback’s Echo Canyon trail with a melon in each hand. He says his endeavor started out being a photography project, but lately it’s been focused on the people he meets on the hiking trails. For example, one hiker from New York introduced him to barefoot hiking, another to putting salt on watermelon.

“It helps keep me happy,” Trufin says. His weekly journey to the top of the Echo Canyon trail leaves him at 1,264 feet above sea level, which makes for a perfect setting to scoop some watermelon and reflect. When people ask why he carries watermelons, he only replies, “I get hungry when I hike.”

Trufin’s journeys up the mountain and down again have inspired hikers with kindness, courage, and adventure. I sure wish someone like him was around during our four-mile treks in the Navy. From the Watermelon Guy to the Watermelon Man: good luck, and keep on spreading the good word!

UP NEXT: A National Watermelon Queen is crowned!

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SIX QUESTIONS WITH A WATERMELON CARVER: LAURA POULSEN

February 18th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

In our first “Interview with a Watermelon Carver” last month, we got to know one of our most entertaining watermelon carving contest participants, Ryan Allison. This month, we talk to Laura Poulsen. pic

Like Ryan, Laura is also a passionate watermelon carver. She enters the carving contest each year, but she also sends photos of her carvings throughout the year to the folks at the National Watermelon Promotion Board. In the 2014 carving contest, she took first place in the Watermelon Basket category (right) and second place in the Star Spangled Watermelon category (below).

I sat down with Laura (she’s from Portland, Oregon) recently — well, I assume she was sitting when she answered my email — and here’s what she had to say about her love of watermelon.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. WHEN YOU’RE NOT CARVING WATERMELON, WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO?

My husband Stephen and I love to go to antique and collectible shows, and have been doing so for many years. We have quite a collection of small rabbits carved out of every substance you can imagine – amber, turquoise, boxwood and much more. At one time I sewed teddy bears using old, recycled fur coats – I made over 900 of them! And yes, I made a rabbit too!

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START CARVING WATERMELON?

It started with me making small garnishes for plates in my deli case. Over time, the garnishes got more creative and elaborate and my carving evolved.

WHAT SORT OF CARVINGS DO YOU LIKE TO CREATE?

I really love working with watermelon because, for me, it’s a good canvas. With watermelon you have the patterns on the rind as well as the different layers of color (depending on the depth of the cut) to help bring out a design. For example my Cheshire Cat carving worked out so well because of the stripes.

I also love watermelon because it is so easy to carve. Different fruits and vegetables “talk” to me with their shapes and colors. For example, I made love birds out of mangos, an owl out of a pineapple, an Elmo out of red peppers, an octopus out of an eggplant and more.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE WATERMELON CARVING? pic

My most memorable watermelon carving is my Cheshire Cat! One day, as my husband was driving me to work, I was fretting about what I would make that day. We were talking about the day and just as he was dropping me off, it came to me! I’m going to make a Cheshire Cat!

My husband’s brother Mark was in town that day and he was going to come in to see me at the store. He has always loved the Alice in Wonderland story and the Cheshire Cat character, so that was how it started. I went to the produce department and saw the perfect watermelons for the project. Mark came in later that day, saw it on the deli counter, and knew right away it was made in his honor.

WHEN IT COMES TO EATING WATERMELON, DO YOU PREFER CHUNKS OR WEDGES?

I prefer melon balls! My husband likes wedges.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AS A CARVER? WHAT WILL YOU BE CARVING THIS YEAR?

I’m a crafty person that likes to be creative. I am eager to try new things and learn new techniques. It is sometimes a challenge to come up with the idea for the next project. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to make until the last minute, and sometimes I take inspiration from characters or things from the books.

People come into the store every week just to see what I have created. Sometimes they take pictures to send to friends and family all across the country. I love to make people smile and the carvings become a way to start conversations and make people happy.

UP NEXT: Going for a hike…with watermelon

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LYCOPENE 101: HOW WATERMELON CAN HELP YOU GET MORE OUT OF THIS POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT

February 17th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

If you want to stay healthy and feel your best (and who doesn’t?), you might want to include more lycopene-rich foods — like watermelon — in your daily diet.
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What is Lycopene?

Lycopene is one of hundreds of carotenoids in fruits and vegetables (beta carotene is the most well-known). Lycopene is the pigment that makes many fruits and veggies a rich and vibrant red. While tomatoes have gotten the most press when it comes to their lycopene content, you might be surprised to hear that watermelon is also a source of lycopene, with 15 to 20 milligrams for every two-cup serving.

Why Do We Need It?

Adopting a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables is one of the best things a person can do to stay healthy, maintain a healthy weight, and lower disease risk. Adding lycopene-rich foods, like watermelon, to that mix is one way to reach that goal. Granted, lycopene cannot be converted to vitamin A like its cousin beta carotene, but it is a powerful antioxidant. This is just one of the reasons why it has been studied to identify its role in health promotion and disease prevention.

How Much Lycopene Do You Need?

Like all of the carotenoids in foods, the jury is still out on the exact amount of lycopene you need for health and possible disease prevention. What is known is that because this antioxidant-rich compound is fat-soluble, you can greatly improve its absorption by adding a little fat to any meal that contains a lycopene-rich fruit or vegetable. For example, one study found that adding avocado to salsa boosts lycopene absorption more than four-fold!

Here a few examples of how you can combine watermelon and certain healthy fat foods:

• drizzle a little olive oil on a watermelon and spinach salad
• snack on watermelon and low-fat (rather than fat-free) yogurt
• add a slice of watermelon to a salmon fillet sandwich
• add watermelon to chicken or shrimp kabobs
• snack on watermelon slices and pistachios

One thing is for sure: You can’t go wrong by adding colorful produce, like watermelon, to your diet. The results are good for your health today and tomorrow!

UP NEXT: An interview with a watermelon carver

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RECIPE: LEMONY QUINOA AND WATERMELON SALAD

February 13th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

Especially within the last few years, food industry trends has seen the rise of a couscous-esque grain taking the grocery shelves by storm. Quinoa, pronounced “keen-wah”, is a small grain packed with protein and amino acids. As an excellent sources of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, and much more, quinoa is as versatile as rice, but with a richer, nuttier flavor.

That’s why it’s a perfect pairing with watermelon in this mouth-watering recipe for Lemony Quinoa and Watermelon Salad! As you’ll see below, pecans are optional, but the recipe also explains that adding a bit of fat from the nuts helps boost absorption of the lycopene in watermelon, a compound that helps lower the risk for cancer and heart disease.

Lemony Quinoa and Watermelon Salad
Ingredients

pic 4 Tablespoons agave syrup
5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 Tablespoons lemon zest
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Salt to taste
2 cups cooked black quinoa
2 ¾ cup watermelon cubes
1 kiwi, peeled and diced
4 Tablespoons shredded coconut
½ cup candied pecans*

Instructions

1. In a medium bowl, blend thoroughly the agave syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt. Add the quinoa and toss until fully coated. Set aside to allow flavors to blend.
2. Add the watermelon, kiwi, coconut, and nuts. Toss.
3. Divide into four bowls and garnish with mint sprig.

*Purchase already candied nuts, such as Sahale Snacks Valdosta Pecans, or use the following recipe:

Candied Pecans:

Toss ½ cup pecans with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Mix a dash each of ground cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cayenne, cumin, and salt with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Toss nuts with this spice blend and roast in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Cool.
Servings
Make 4 servings.

UP NEXT: What’s Lycopene, and why is it good for me?

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TRY NOT TO FEEL HAPPY AFTER WATCHING THIS VIDEO… I DARE YOU!

February 11th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

Tom Rosenthal is a 26-year-old songwriter from London, England, and not to be confused with the U.K.’s other 26-year-old Tom Rosenthal, who’s an actor and a comedian. Tom Rosenthal the comedian might want to watch out, though, because Tom Rosenthal the songwriter also knows how to make people smile.

For proof, check out Rosenthal’s “The Watermelon Song” above. Watch it once, and you’ll be smiling ear-to-ear. Watch it twice, and the song will be stuck in your head FOR DAYS. (You’ve been warned.)

I recently reached out to Tom Rosenthal (the songwriter) to chat with him about his infectious ode to watermelon, the awesome watermelon costume from the video, and what he’s got planned for future songs.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE A SONG ABOUT WATERMELON

I just started singing the word a lot and it sounded right. I think also my daughter likes eating watermelon, so perhaps I had them on the brain because of that.

THE LYRIC “IT’S A FRUIT-BASED LOVE” IS A POWERFUL ONE, ESPECIALLY FOR SOMEONE LIKE ME WHO WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREES. ARE YOU A BIG WATERMELON FAN YOURSELF?

If it’s the right time of year then it can be a great thing, but it needs to be the right time.

WHO MADE THE WATERMELON COSTUME FOR THE VIDEO? HAVE YOU FOUND ANY OTHER OPPORTUNITIES TO WEAR IT?

My friend and gifted tailor Nathan Jones made it. I put it on for some dinner guests the other day, but not much aside from that.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER FRUIT-RELATED SONGS IN THE WORKS? MAYBE AN ODE TO GRAPEFRUIT OR A SONG ABOUT PEARS?

I think I’m going to give fruit a bit of a rest for now unless the demand is so strong that I can’t refuse!

UP NEXT: A recipe for Lemony Quinoa and Watermelon Salad

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SECOND SLICE: DO YOU SALT YOUR WATERMELON?

February 9th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

This is a popular debate in watermelon circles, so I’ve decided to repost this entry from 2011. Sound off with your thoughts on the issue with a comment, and cast your vote in the poll in the right hand sidebar!

I’ve mentioned in the past that I love salt, but not on watermelon. My statement has since stirred some healthy debate among my friends about the benefits of putting salt on watermelon. That debate has inspired this month’s poll question – Do you salt your watermelon? – which you can answer on the right. Feel free to add your two cents with a comment below, also. pic

My position is this: I know some people swear by it, but I just don’t do it. I totally get the “salty and sweet” thing (no one is a bigger fan of chocolate-covered pretzels than I am), but to me, putting salt on watermelon is like putting ketchup on scrambled eggs. Both are great things, just not together.

To be fair, I did some research about the practice, and I found claims that salting watermelon actually makes it sweeter. Apparently, the salt “opens up” the taste buds or has some sort of positive effect on the tongue, which enhances the sweetness of the watermelon. Armed with scientific evidence of the benefits of salting watermelon, I’m definitely curious enough that I’ll add a dash of salt to my next wedge. I can’t promise that I’ll like, but I’ll try it!

UP NEXT: YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO RESIST THIS

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THIS WATERMELON RAISIN BREAD WILL BLOW YOUR MIND

February 5th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

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No, the watermelon raisin bread you see above wasn’t created using some Photoshop trickery. It was actually baked like that, and it’s really not that hard. Check out the video below for a step-by-step tutorial. It’s about seven minutes long, but it’s an entertaining and informative seven minutes, especially for someone like me who’s never made homemade bread before.

It’s essentially made with a core of red dough, which is wrapped in a layer of white dough and then a layer of green dough. Believe it or not, that’s it.

The recipe for this magical creation can be found in the description of the video on YouTube. As the creator notes during the video, it was actually inspired by a recipe for watermelon chocolate chip bread (check that one out here). The watermelon chocolate chip bread didn’t include the white later (only green and red), and the chocolate chips tended to smear when the bread was cut, so the star of this video used raisins instead.

If I’m ever feeling extremely ambitious on a weekend this spring or summer, I might try to recreate this masterpiece myself. If I do attempt it, I promise to post the results here on the blog, not matter how horrible those results might look!

UP NEXT: What’s up with salt on watermelon?!

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