“JUMP WITH JILL” WANTS YOU TO GET FIT (WITH WATERMELON!)

June 13th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

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Not to sound like an old man (even though I am pushing 40), but kids these days just don’t seem to play outside as much as we did when I was young. Jill Jayne agrees with me. Or at least I’m pretty sure she does.

Jill is a registered dietitian and the energetic, creative force behind Jump with Jill, a multimedia health program that makes nutrition and health fun for kids by combining music with entertaining fitness lessons. The live Jump with Jill show has been performed live 1,000 times for 250,000 kids all over the United States and Europe and has been featured in national media outlets including NickelodeonSprout PBSNPR, and The Washington Post.

Jill is also a big fan of watermelon. She’s so much of a fan, she’s created a retro-inspired video series called Watermelon Workouts, in which she works out while carrying a watermelon to showcase the benefits of healthy eating and exercise. (That’s the star of the Philadelphia Jump with Jill cast, Kristina Psitos – better known as Philly Jilly – in the photo above with the watermelon van that transports her to and from her many appearances.)

In her latest Watermelon Workouts video, Philly Jilly trots her 15-pound watermelon around Philadelphia in a tribute to fictional boxing great Rocky Balboa. Check out Watermelon Workouts in the City of Brotherly Love below. Pretty impressive – but I’m not the best judge of fitness, considering that I get a little winded just lifting three watermelons out of the bin at the grocery store.

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SECOND SLICE: THE MYSTERIOUS BLUE WATERMELON

June 10th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

DEE ASKS: Probably 20 years ago, my uncle used to drive to the southern heel of Missouri and into Arkansas to purchase vegetables and fruit to bring back to mid-Missouri and sell. On one of his trips, he brought back an unusual watermelon to show his friends and family. The melon had seeds, but the flesh of the watermelon was blue. Has anyone else heard of this blue-fleshed watermelon? We have been trying to find another one in recent years, but everyone we ask in that area says they’ve never heard of them.

As soon as I read your question, Dee, I was immediately consumed by an urge to track down this mysterious blue watermelon. I personally have never heard of a blue watermelon (Although I’ve seen yellow watermelons), so I asked some of my watermelon farming friends about it. Much to my dismay, they had never heard of it either.

picThen I went online in search of the elusive watermelon and could only find the photo on the right of what looks like a very blue watermelon, but I think the picture might be the result of editing magic. (As you pointed out in a follow-up to my answer, it’s too much of a coincidence that the watermelon matches the cabinets and that everything else in the picture has sort of a bluish tint.)

It might be possible to create a blue watermelon using dye, but growing a blue watermelon by natural means would appear, I’m afraid to say, impossible. And so, the mystery remains unsolved … for now.

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RECIPE: WATERMELON DONUTS

June 8th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

We won’t get into the whole “donut” vs. “doughnut” thing because I think you know which side of that debate I’m on. What we will discuss is how great donuts are. I mean, it’s essentially a piece of cake that you can eat for breakfast! Sounds pretty good to me.

The National Watermelon Promotion Board has a recipe on their website for “Watermelon Donuts,” and since I salivate at the sound of both those words, I decided to try the recipe for myself. Their recipe calls for the donuts to be topped with slivered almonds. You can try that, but I’m a little more adventurous, so I’ve altered the recipe to include “assorted toppings.”

Which toppings did I choose? As you can see in the photo, I created my donut with crushed peanuts and a chocolate syrup drizzle. It was dee-licious! Which toppings would you use?

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WATERMELON DONUTS

INGREDIENTS

Watermelon
Sour cream
Sugar to taste
Vanilla to taste
Assorted toppings

DIRECTIONS

Cut out circular donut shapes from 1 1/2-inch thick slices of seedless watermelon. Eat leftover scraps of watermelon quickly, before anyone else does. Sweeten sour cream with sugar and a touch of vanilla to taste. Frost half the watermelon donut slices and place another slice on top of each, creating something that resembles a sandwich. Frost the top of your donut sandwich and sprinkle with your choice of toppings.

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VINTAGE PHOTO: SMILE FOR THE CAMERA!

June 5th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

I’ve posted several vintage watermelon photos in the past, but my search for pictures has revealed a common trend: People in the old days really liked posing for “happy watermelon eating” shots. That is, photos in which the subjects are seemingly overjoyed to be eating watermelon (or pretending to be overjoyed).

I’m not sure why people don’t take happy watermelon photos anymore, but they definitely should. Have we taken watermelon for granted in the 21st century? The lack of photos indicates that we might have. Or maybe watermelon was a rarer treat 80 years ago, and therefore something that made people happier when they ate it. That might explain it, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.

Whatever the reason for all the old school joy, it’s given me a lot of imagery to work with. Below, I’ve assembled five of the best “happy watermelon eating” scenes I’ve come across. Enjoy!

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ABOVE: The formula for a “happy watermelon eaters” photo is simple: 1) Eat your watermelon down to the rind, 2) Hold your rind in front of your mouth like a smile. The girls in this photo have the eating part down. The boys could use a little help, though.

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ABOVE: These happy watermelon eaters are even happier because they’re sharing their watermelon with each other. I’m glad it works for them. If I had to share a wedge of watermelon with someone, that would probably make me mad.

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ABOVE: The note scrawled on this photo indicates that this was some sort of birthday party. Apparently, no girls of any kind were invited.

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ABOVE: There’s always one person in the “happy watermelon eating” photo that refuses to play along. In this case, it’s Mr. Bow Tie with the creepy blank stare.

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ABOVE: They look so happy, don’t they? And they’re not at all worried about getting watermelon juice on those beautiful white dresses. Good for you, ladies!

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JUNE PRIZE: WATERMELON MEMO PAD AND SCENTED PENS

June 3rd, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

I’m not ashamed to admit this, but when it comes to remembering things, I’m pretty much the worst rememberer in the entire world. Names? Forget about it. Dates? I only remember my wedding anniversary and my wife’s birthday (i.e., the “important ones”). Grocery lists? If I’m headed to the store for more than three items, I have to write it down.

Because of my absent-mindedness, I’ve been known to jot notes to myself at work and around the house. And, as long as I don’t forget where I put the note, the system seems to work pretty well. I usually use those sticky-note things or random slips of paper for my reminders, but this month’s watermelon-themed prize would come in handy, too.

It’s a watermelon memo pad AND a set of three watermelon-scented pens. That’s right, watermelon-scented pens. That’s a picture of the delicious prize duo below.

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According to their Amazon page, if you use these pens, “you’ll be tempted to eat your words.” That’s entirely likely with me, because I’ve also been known to eat paper. I wonder if that has anything to do with my memory loss.

I’ll choose one commenter at random from all the comments left on the blog this month to receive this pad-and-pen set. Of course, that’s assuming I remember to pick a name.

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HOW TO CARVE: A WATERMELON HIPPO!

May 31st, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

You might remember my monthly watermelon carvings from last year. They included a pig, a mouth, a shark, and a hedgehog, among others. I had a lot of fun with them, but I was forced to retire my carving knife and cutting board during the winter months due to the lack of full-sized watermelon in my local grocery store.

But at long last, spring has sprung and the giant bin of full-sized watermelon has returned! So I’ve sharpened my knife and I’m ready to restart my carving adventures. The first “how to carve” adventure of the season is a watermelon hippo, which I found on the “Carvings” page of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

SUPPLIES

  • Long, oval-shaped watermelon
  • Kitchen & paring knives
  • Cutting board
  • Dry-erase marker
  • Large bowl & spoon
  • Channel knife (I used the tip of a potato peeler)
  • Toothpicks
  • Blueberries
  • Large marshmallows

 

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As always, start by washing your watermelon thoroughly before cutting into it. The hippo works best if you can find an oblong watermelon. I was only able to find mostly round watermelons, but I made it work.

watermelon - mouth

Place the watermelon on its side and cut 1/4″-1/2″ off the yellow-spot side, being careful not to cut too deep into the white part of the rind. This will provide a sturdy base. Next, use the dry-erase marker to draw a mouth on the stem end of the watermelon. Cut out the mouth and scoop out the flesh inside.

watermelon - nose

Use the channel knife to add dimension and the appearance of a long nose with nostrils.

watermelon - eyes

Use the rind from the wedge that was removed to form two eyes and two ears. The ears are basically tear drop shapes with a little of the outer rind carved out of the middle. The eyes look kind of like sixes (with the middle carved out to make room for the blueberry). Attach the eyes and ears with toothpicks to the top of the hippo’s head, toward the back, and place blueberries inside the eyes to cover up the toothpicks.

watermelon - done

Last, attach two small marshmallows to the top of the mouth and two larger marshmallows to the bottom of the mouth to resemble teeth. (The small marshmallows can be cut from the larger ones.) Feel free to fill your hippo with pieces of watermelon or just leave him (her?) empty as a playful centerpiece during your next gathering.

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RECIPE: WATERMELON BREAKFAST LASAGNA

May 29th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

picLike most of my favorite watermelon-related recipes, this one combines two things I love: watermelon and lasagna. It’s also related to one of my favorite meals – breakfast.

And while this “lasagna” contains none of the sausage, pasta, and gooey mozzarella cheese that make the real thing so delicious, it more than makes up for it with layers of other goodies. I recently prepared this recipe, and even though it looked only vaguely like lasagna, it’s still a worthy addition to my morning meal rotation.

Like mom’s lasagna, you can probably tweak the recipe by adding all sorts of other ingredients to it. If anyone has any ideas for additions, leave a comment!

WATERMELON BREAKFAST LASAGNA

INGREDIENTS

4 cups cornflakes
2 cups minced watermelon
2 cups fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries
2 cups vanilla yogurt

DIRECTIONS

Place 1/3 of the cornflakes in an even layer in the bottom of an 8 X 8 serving dish. Mix together the watermelon, blueberries and yogurt and evenly spoon half the mixture over the cornflake layer. Sprinkle another layer of cornflakes over the yogurt and then layer the remaining yogurt over that. Sprinkle the remaining cornflakes evenly over the top.

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION UPDATE: TRANSPLANTING MY SPROUTS

May 28th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

Last month, I chronicled the first big step in my New Year’s resolution goal of growing my own watermelon: Planting the seeds. I planted the seeds in a small pot indoors, and the second part of that process – waiting until after the last frost of the season to transplant the seed sprouts outside – has finally arrived.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about moving my little watermelon sprouts from my kitchen windowsill to the harsh conditions of my backyard. That’s a picture of them below.

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Although the time was right for the move to the great outdoors, I felt kind of like a parent who was watching their five-year-old board the school bus for the first day of kindergarten – a little sad that the big day had finally arrived, but excited for the growth and development that lay ahead.

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But I knew I had to let my little watermelon plants grow up someday, and it wasn’t going to happen on my kitchen windowsill. After tilling a six-foot section of yard, I moved my sprouts to the spot where they would be growing big and strong over the next 90 days.

I carefully removed the sprouts from their homes – the cardboard-like pot they sprouted in is intended to be transplanted with them – and buried them gently in the earth. After patting down the topsoil and giving them a drink of water, the time had come for me to let them grow.

Walking away wasn’t easy. I looked back several times before reaching the back door. And then, over the course of the next few days, I found myself standing in the dining room, looking out over the watermelon patch to make sure the sprouts hadn’t wilted under the stress of their new move. They remained strong, of course. Now all I have to do is make sure they stay that way.

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THE QUOTABLE WATERMELON: ARE YOU AMONG THE BEST PEOPLE?

May 22nd, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

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I’ve featured quotes about watermelon here on the blog in the past (here, here, and here). It’s something I had planned to do on a semi-regular basis, but then I realized something: As awesome as watermelon is, there aren’t that many good quotes about it. (Note to quotable sources: Let’s change that.)

So I’ve decided to take quotes about other things and “edit” them slightly to make them watermelon-specific, starting with today’s quote from Julia Child. Julia was, of course, a renowned chef who was known for bringing French cuisine to the American public, but I like to think she might have also been a fan of watermelon.

Plus, even if you add “watermelon” to her quote like I did above, her words still ring true. Everyone I know who consider themselves a “watermelon lover” are all really nice people. It makes perfect sense, too. Watermelon has a certain happy vibe about it, so anyone who eats a lot of watermelon might have a positive outlook as well.

I know I have a good attitude (or at least try to). And any time I’m feeling a little run down, a watermelon snack always seems to cheer me up. Again, that’s just me, but if you’re the same way, you might be one of the “best people” I know!

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AN INTERVIEW WITH THE NEW NATIONAL WATERMELON QUEEN

May 20th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

The National Watermelon Association’s annual conference took place in February. The five-day event includes lots of activities, but one of the highlights is the crowning of the new National Watermelon Queen. This year’s queen is Amber Nolin from Enterprise, Alabama.

Amber is currently studying food and nutrition at the University of Florida. During her year as queen, Amber will have a busy schedule, traveling the nation and representing the watermelon industry at state fairs, conventions, trade shows, festivals and in-store events.

To help everyone get to know the National Watermelon Queen a little better, I recently interviewed Amber via email.

THANKS FOR AGREEING TO ANSWER A FEW QUESTIONS. HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED NOW THAT YOU’RE THE NATIONAL WATERMELON QUEEN?

There has been a lot more traveling, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Overall, I’d say the biggest change for me has been trying to manage school and my busy role as National Watermelon Queen. There have been many late nights in hotel rooms studying and doing homework, but every minute is completely worth it. I feel so blessed and honored to have this opportunity and know that I will have the year of a lifetime.

EVERY WATERMELON QUEEN HAS SOME SORT OF BACKGROUND TIE TO WATERMELON. WHAT’S YOURS?

I wouldn’t say that I had a background of watermelons, just childhood memories. The one that stands out the most was as a child, during the summer with my cousins, we would cut a watermelon in half and eat every last piece of the flesh and then we would float the rind on the pond and pretend it was a boat. I also can remember helping my dad pick the best watermelon out of the patch and loading up the trailer as full as we could.

WHAT PART OF BEING WATERMELON QUEEN ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?

I absolutely love traveling, but the one thing that I am looking most forward to is being able to meet people not only in the United States, but all over the world. I just traveled to Toronto, Canada. I was there for four days and was able to meet people from all over Canada, Italy, Guatemala, and South America. In my opinion, there aren’t many 21-year-olds who have an opportunity like that, and for that I am so grateful.

NOW THAT YOU’VE BEEN CROWNED, WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’D LIKE TO MAKE DURING YOUR TIME AS WATERMELON QUEEN?

I know for me, not coming from a watermelon-farming family, I had no idea of the process of getting the watermelons from the field to the consumer’s table. During my reign, I hope to educate people about that process. It has given me a whole new respect for the American farmer. People don’t realize all of the sleepless nights, hard work, money, and love for agriculture that a famer puts into his crops. In my life, I know that understanding and seeing this process firsthand has made me appreciate the produce that you see in the retail store.

EVEN THOUGH YOU’VE ONLY BEEN QUEEN FOR THREE MONTHS, WHAT’S BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR REIGN SO FAR?

Children hold such a dear place in my heart, so my first school promotion has definitely stood out. It was actually on my birthday, and I could not have chosen a more perfect place to be. I was able to read the famous children’s book, “A Watermelon Day,” and we also helped the students plant their very own seeded and seedless watermelons. I had a blast!

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR THE GIRLS OUT THERE WHO WOULD LIKE TO BE A WATERMELON QUEEN SOMEDAY?

If I could pass on one piece of advice, it would be to never take for granted the opportunities that God gives you. Looking back on my year as the Alabama Watermelon Queen, and even now as the National Queen, I have been blessed to have an opportunity that has truly changed my life.

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