Super Summertime Snacks

Jul 01, 2005

Before you hit the beach or pool this summer, pack a cooler with these healthy, warm-weather goodies:

Frozen Grapes. Freeze a bunch the night before for an instant, low- fat refresher that hits the spot on a hot summer day.

Seltzer Deluxe. Squeeze some fresh lemon, orange or lime juice into plain seltzer to make a low-calorie drink that is light and thirst-quenching.

Fruit Slices. Slice a cucumber or cube a seedless watermelon for a cool snack that hydrates and fills up the kids between meals.

Cheese Sticks. Take along individual serving sizes of low-fat string cheese as a perfect snack for the beach or poolside.

Source: LA Weight Loss.

Does any fruit signal the start of summer more than a big, RED, Juicy watermelon? For everyone from kids to seniors, watermelon is the fruit of choice when it comes to a cool dessert during the dog days of summer.

While many people appreciate their taste and texture, watermelons are also a great, low-calorie source of healthy phytochemicals. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, the melons contain high levels of lycopene, thought to have powerful antioxidant capabilities. In fact, a 2-cup serving of watermelon contains a whopping 18.16 milligrams (mg) of lycopene, compared to the 4 mg found in a medium-sized tomato.

Selecting the Best Fruit. Choose a watermelon that is firm, symmetrical and free of bruises, cuts or dents. The fruit should be heavy when you lift it, since watermelon is made mostly of water. Check to see that the underside of the melon has a creamy yellow spot, indicating that the fruit sat on the ground while ripening.

Storing for Longevity. Whole melons should keep for 7–10 days at room temperature. Once a melon is cut, it should be wrapped and stored at 37–39 degrees Fahrenheit (2.7–3.8 degrees Celsius). Do not freeze melons, as the rind will break down and the fruit will become mealy or mushy in texture.

Preparing the Melon. Always wash the rind before cutting into the flesh; use a clean knife and cutting surface. To remove the seeds, quarter the melon and then cut each quarter into three or four wedges; cut lengthwise along the seed line with a paring knife and lift off the fruit in pieces. Use a fork to scrape the seeds from the fruit before cutting it into cubes.

Experimenting With Melons. Try freezing watermelon juice in ice cube trays. Purée a few cups of watermelon (with seeds removed) in a blender and mix until smooth; strain before putting into individual ice trays. Then freeze and use in your favorite summer beverages, such as lemonade or fruit punches.

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