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Friday, March 24, 2017

Marvelous Melons

As the seed structure indicates, melons are members of the gourd family and relatives of cucumbers and squash. There are two types of melons: the muskmelon and the watermelon. The latter has its seeds imbedded in its juicy flesh like a cucumber. In muskmelons, the seeds are contained in a hollow central cavity, like squash or a pumpkin. They readily interbreed among themselves. A ripe cantaloupe melon is heavy for its size, has a firm rind and a slight softening, and sweet aroma at the blossom end. An evenly ripe melon will be slightly oval and five inches or more in diameter, with a yellow or golden (not green) background color. Hold at room temperature until it has a pleasant cantaloupe aroma. A sign for sweetness is a few tiny cracks near the stem end.

For Your Health: Melons, especially the orange-fleshed varieties, have received much press for their excellent beta carotene content, which puts them high on the list of anticarcinogenic foods. Melons are also an excellent potassium source. In addition, melon is a great food for someone with high blood pressure or heart disease, because they have an anticoagulant ingredient, adenosine (metabolic cell stimuli). Melons have diuretic properties and they digest very rapidly with most of your fruits, vegetables and herbs. But, please don’t cut until you are ready to use. When you cut into a food rich in vitamin C, its cells release an enzyme called ascorbic acid oxidase. This enzyme destroys vitamin C and reduces the nutritional value of the food.

ECO-ISTA Note: What a delicious way to stay hydrated during our summer blizzards! Be on the lookout for several varieties of melons at our local farmers markets this summer. I just picked up Tuscan and Hami Melons at Trader Joe’s that were absolutely delicious. It’s been said, “the back of a cool spoon can dull the taste buds.” It’s recommended you eat your cantaloupe with a fork.

Melon and Mint Salad
1 ripe chilled Tuscan Melon
drizzle of (1 teaspoon) organic extra virgin Olive Oil
2 Pinches of Blood Orange Sicilian Sea Salt
1 teaspoon fresh Apple Mint or, whatever you have on hand

Quarter slice the melon, remove the rind and cut into bite size pieces, place in a large bowl. Drizzle lightly with the olive oil, toss lightly to coat. Sprinkle the sea salt to bring out the sweet flavor. Finely chop the mint and add to the melon mixture combining well. To serve, place the melon on a chilled plates for a full flavor healthy desert in the dessert…Serves 4.

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