“When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.” — Mark Twain

When summer begins to really sizzle, cooling foods can provide much-needed relief. Foods that are quite high in water content such as cucumbers, lettuces, and watermelon can refresh and reinvigorate. Summer would not he same without plenty of ripe, juicy watermelon. Ice cold watermelon is the perfect antidote to sweltering summer heat and humidity.

The essence of summer in each luscious slice, watermelon lends itself to so many spectacular meals. Bring a beautiful beginning to the breakfast table by clustering watermelon cubes atop Greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon, ginger and vanilla extract. Top with chopped toasted almonds or hazelnuts and finely chopped mint. Having a crowd for brunch? Heap a large platter with watermelon wedges, fresh blueberries, raspberries and peach slices. Drizzle organic wildflower honey over and scatter some lemon basil or lemon thyme over all. For impromptu picnics, cube watermelon and pack in a container with feta cheese, black olives, fresh cherry tomatoes. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice and prepare to enjoy. Dinner is just a bit more delightful with watermelon. Watermelon gazpacho or Thai soup are loaded with hits of sweetness and spice. Grilled shrimp with a gorgeous watermelon salsa will provides tons of zesty flavor with very little effort. Juicing watermelon will give you lovely liquid that can be incorporated into lemonade, or kicked up a notch with the addition of dry, bracing gin and plenty of mint.

Wondrous watermelon is such a solid source of health benefits. Low in fat, watermelon contains copious amounts of lycopene, (which gives the flesh it’s array of rosy hues), which can help improve blood flow. Rich in potassium, watermelon can help the body retain calcium, resulting in stronger bones and joints. Regular consumption of watermelon may help reduce body fat while whisking away excess fluids and toxins. The enormous amount of water in this fabulous fruit will soothe an overheated system and calm the ravages of summers’ highest heat index. High in vitamin C, watermelon can be helpful healing wounds and its beta-carotene content may provide significant protection for the eyes, and maintain healthy skin and teeth.

When purchasing watermelons, look for a good size yellow spot on the melon. This is where it lay on the ground. The more colorful that spot, the sweeter it should be. Pick it up and make sure the melon feels firm and heavy. At home, you can store the watermelon on the counter until ready to use. Before cutting it open, give the rind a good scrubbing all over. Store cut watermelon in the refrigerator, well wrapped. It should keep its texture for several days.

Enjoy the wonders of watermelon as you prepare your delicious summer life!

Wondrous Watermelon Salsa

Serves 4

4 cups seeded watermelon, diced

1 cup diced mango

1 cup chopped blueberries

3 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion

1 minced jalapeno

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice

¾ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon tequila (optional)

Small handful each of fresh cilantro, basil and parsley torn into small pieces

Mix together first 10 ingredients in a bowl. Taste, add more salt, and lime juice if needed. Add in herbs, toss gently and serve. Spectacular with grilled pork or shrimp.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener, and a graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and Columbia University Teacher’s College.