A watermelon skewer

It didn’t seem to matter that the temperature was 36C to the kids playing soccer this summer day. But playing such an active game in heat like this calls for lots of fluids or fruits like watermelon, which are 92 per cent water, dietitian Diana Steele says.

“In the summer watermelon is particularly good because kids won’t drink a glass of water, but if you put out a plate of watermelon they are going to eat two, three or four slices,” she says.

Another plus is watermelon also contains a higher level of the antioxidant lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable, including fresh tomatoes. A two-cup serving of watermelon contains 18.16 milligrams and one medium-sized tomato contains four milligrams.

“Cooked tomatoes have more lycopene because cooking will release more of it as the cell wall gets broken down,” she says. “If you cooked watermelon, the same thing would happen.”

A Canadian study published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition indicated a diet rich in products with lycopene may help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer among people who never smoked. It may also reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancers.

For her children, Steele often makes fruit skewers using chunks of watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, oranges, strawberries and grapes which they dip in yogurt.

She says whole fruit is a better choice than fruit juices.

“The benefit of having the whole fruit is that you are going to consume fewer calories while feeling more full and satisfied. It has been proven that when people drink their calories, they don’t compensate by eating less food,” she says.

Steele says juice should be kept to no more than 1/2 cup a day.

Watermelon Pie a la Mode

• Serves 6

INGREDIENTS: 6 pie-shaped slices of pound cake, each 1/2 inch thick 6 3-inch thick wedges of seedless watermelon, the same size as cake slices, blotted to remove moisture, 6 scoops vanilla-flavoured frozen yogurt, 1 cup strawberry syrup.

DIRECTIONS: Place cake slices on 6 dessert plates. Top each cake slice with watermelon slice. Place scoop of frozen yogurt on top of each pie slice and drizzle syrup over top.

Watermelon Hawaiian Salad

• Serves 6 to 12

INGREDIENTS: 1 cup macadamia nuts, 2 bananas, 1 small papaya, 4 limes, juiced, 3 cups seedless watermelon balls or small squares, 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks, 250 ml (1 cup) freshly grated or unsweetened coconut, 3 cups low-fat vanilla-flavoured yogurt, 1/3 cup papaya seeds

DIRECTIONS: Place macadamia nuts in workbowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Place nuts in a non-stick, heavy sauté pan and toast over medium heat until golden, stirring constantly. Remove to a heatproof dish and let it cool. Peel and cut bananas and papaya flesh into small chunks and toss in lime juice. In a large bowl, place banana and papaya chunks with watermelon, pineapple and coconut. In another bowl, mix yogurt and papaya seeds. Pour over fruit and coconut. Toss to combine. Place in a serving bowl. Sprinkle toasted macadamia nuts over top and serve immediately.

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