GUEST BLOG ENTRY: MOTHER NATURE’S HEART HEALTH PLAN

October 5th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

It’s no secret that watermelon is as healthy as it is delicious, but just how healthy is it? As healthy as a big, heaping salad? Or a kale smoothie? Today’s guest blog entry from nutritionist and dietician, Elizabeth Somer, sheds some light on all the ways watermelon may be good for your heart and more.

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Photo courtesy of University of South Florida

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. The good news is that there are many things you can do to reduce your risk. Preventing heart disease is a three-tiered job that includes a nutritious diet, daily exercise and healthy lifestyle habits.

You can slim your waistline AND protect your heart by focusing on Mother Nature’s best foods: colorful fruits and vegetables. Aim for at least two servings of colorful fruits and vegetables at every meal, and at least one at every snack, for a total of no less than eight servings a day.

Colorful produce is a good source of antioxidants that protect arteries from damage associated with inflammation. Almost all produce is cholesterol and fat-free, low in sodium, and rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. For example, watermelon provides vitamins A and C, potassium and heart-healthful antioxidants, such as lycopene. It also contains citrulline, a compound that aids blood flow. Watermelon provides a perfect combination of fiber and water, two compounds that help fill you up before they fill you out, so you push away from the table before you’ve overeaten. That makes watermelon a great inclusion in any weight-management plan.

While cutting back on saturated fat is good for your heart, a little healthy fat, such as the monounsaturated fats in nuts, avocados and olive oil, is good for you and helps boost absorption of some of those nutrients in produce, such as the lycopene and vitamin A in watermelon.

The healthy fat in avocado, combined with watermelon, chilies, cilantro and a little lime juice, makes a great salsa and topping for salmon or as a dip for veggies. Or, sprinkle pistachios over a spinach and watermelon salad (just go light on the dressing!).

Let’s put this into practice! A heart-healthy sample day’s menu would be:

  • BREAKFAST: Sprinkle berries on whole-grain cereal, and complement with a bowl of watermelon chunks
  • LUNCH: Toss some grilled chicken breast with two cups of fresh spinach for a healthy salad. Complement with a slice of sourdough French bread and an apple
  • DINNER: Serve salmon with steamed broccoli and a sweet potato for a filling meal
  • SNACKS: Dip your watermelon slices in fat-free yogurt, baby carrots in hummus or apple slices in peanut butter

Yes, the foods that protect your heart are the same foods that slim your waistline. And remember: If you eat well and move daily, your heart will thank you for it!

REMEMBER: All comments left on the blog this month are entered to win our October prize — the watermelon welcome mat — so comment as often as you’d like!

UP NEXT: A SPOOKY CARVING CONTEST

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RECIPE: SPICY WATERMELON HUMMUS

April 10th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

Not only does warmer weather mean the return of watermelon to picnic tables everywhere, but it also means I’ll be seeing more of my other favorite food: dip! At our summer picnics, where there is always dip on the table, you can usually find me hovering near the dip bowl (which hopefully isn’t far from the watermelon).

So, when hummus burst onto the scene years ago, I was skeptical. I mean, it’s made with mashed up chickpeas, which doesn’t sound all that great, right? But, staying true to my dip-loving nature, I decided to give it a chance. Turns out, it’s pretty awesome.

This Middle Eastern dip is a smoothly blended chickpea paste traditionally mixed with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs and spices. Today, you can find hummus in a variety of flavors.

It’s not just a great-tasting snack, either. Hummus also packs plenty of healthy nutrients and health benefits. Because hummus is rich in protein, it can actually fight hunger cravings and balance your blood sugar levels. If that’s all the convincing you need, try this recipe for Spicy Watermelon Hummus! Pairing the savory cumin with the sweet watermelon is a perfect combination for a nutritious snack.

Spicy Watermelon Hummus00

Ingredients

1 large clove garlic

2 heaping tablespoons of diced red onion

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup watermelon juice (liquefy watermelon in a blender)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon lemon peel

¼ teaspoon each; ground cumin, coriander, ground ginger, paprika and turmeric

1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and washed

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup diced watermelon

Parsley sprigs

Instructions

Mince garlic in a food processor. Add onion and parsley, and blend until fully minced. Add rest of ingredients, and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for at least half an hour to allow flavors to blend. Garnish with diced watermelon and parsley sprigs. Serve with pita bread, baked chips or baby carrots.

UP NEXT: An interview with the 2015 National Watermelon Queen

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