Oftentimes, we go to great caloric lengths to cool down, whether it’s slurping down a fluorescent margarita by the pool or downing a teetering ice cream cone. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
If there’s anything that melon’s good for, it’s cooling you down. And the refreshing capabilities of cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon go far beyond the category’s prominent presence in fruit salad. On the contrary, melon does wonders in a salad, adds creaminess to a cool soup or can be transformed into something entirely unexpected. Melon fettuccini, anyone? Unlike other ultra-tangy, sugary fruits, melon serves as a foundation for bigger things. Seriously, the options are endless.
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- Food Network Kitchens' Honeydew Granita
This green melon is my 5-year old’s hands-down favorite. I’ve never seen anyone so thrilled when a fruit’s in season—she devours fresh chunks at breakfast and bedtime snack. As a mom, I’m happy that she enjoys a food filled with good-for-you nutrients. Though as a food lover, I’m happy to report that there are many other ways to enjoy the heavenly taste of honeydew.
What, Where, & When?
Honeydew is part of the muskmelon family, along with cantaloupe and person melon. This family is also known as netted melon; their skin looks like its covered with a thick, rough netting. Honeydew is very aromatic, but if they’re picked too early they won’t become as sweet and flavorful.
The oval-shaped melon has a smooth, cream-colored rind and green-colored flesh that’s bursting with sweetness. You can also find gold and orange honeydew varieties, with flesh colors described by their name, though they’re not as easy to find. These melons range from 4 to 7 pounds in size.
This scrumptious melon is thought to have originated in Persia and was also prized years later by ancient Egyptians. Today honeydew is grown in Mexico, California, Arizona, and parts of the southwest and is most abundant from late summer through early fall.
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After my weekly CSA delivery, I was prepared to write all about a gorgeous looking spaghetti squash that was in my share. But when I open the “squash,” I discovered that it wasn’t a squash at all, but a melon!
I put in a call in to my farmer (yes, proud to say I have her on speed dial); I wanted her to enlighten me – what was this bright yellow melon called? She introduced me to the Sun Jewel. This Asian variety (also called a Korean Yellow Melon) has pale yellow flesh that tastes similar to honeydew, but with more of a cucumber-pear flavor.
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- Is your melon safe?
The recent Listeria outbreak has made us aware that our food supply isn’t as safe as we may think. This isn’t the first time melon has caused illness or even death. Here’s a look at melon outbreaks and simple tips to keep your loved ones safe.
Past Melon Outbreaks
Sliced melon is no stranger to foodborne illness. It’s considered a potentially hazardous food, meaning a food that has the ability for bacteria to grow and thrive. One of the most memorable stories I can recall happened in 2000. A 2-year old girl fell ill and died after eating at a Milwaukee Sizzler. Although the girl never ate the E. Coli tainted ground beef, it was argued that the sliced melon she ate contained the bacteria. The alleged faux pas made during preparation was cross-contamination.
The recent outbreak of cantaloupe has shed light on the importance of keeping melon safe. As of today, 133 people have become ill and 28 have died throughout 26 states from Listeria-tainted cantaloupe. Although Jensen Farms in Colorado recalled the cantaloupes on September 14, symptoms of Listeria can take up to 2 months to appear. So the numbers can still go up through November.
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- Dana's 5-Ingredient Melon Soup
It’s been a hot and humid summer – cool off with this refreshing and light no-cook soup. It’s a snap to make, and has only 5 ingredients.
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- Grilled Watermelon Salad
Nothing says summer like biting into a wedge of juicy melon, from cantaloupe to watermelon to casaba. While simple snacking is tasty, we’ve got five more ways to devour this seasonal goodie.
5 more ways to love melon »
- Market-Fresh Casaba Melon
This dazzling lemon-yellow melon is new to my kitchen. After a taste, I am a loyal fan.
A relative of cantaloupe, casaba tastes similar, but not quite as sweet. One cup has less than 50 calories, 2 grams of fiber and more than 60 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C. Add to a fresh salad, wrap with thin slices of salty prosciutto, or for our frozen treats week, make a cool and refreshing batch of melon sorbet.
Recipes to Try:
Melon Wrapped in Prosciutto
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »
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Growing up, I had a pet cat who was obsessed with cantaloupe. I was never sure if cantaloupe was acceptable feline fare, but she lived to be 14, so I guess it didn’t hurt. One thing I do know is that the cool, juicy melon is definitely good humans! Scoop some up now while it’s in season.
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Who needs to be slaving over a hot stove in this summer heat? Try some of these no-cook soups, main dishes and desserts that are a healthy — and cheaper — alternative to dialing up some takeout. They’re packed with fresh fruits and veggies, which means more vitamins and minerals on your plate.
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Add a little spice to fruit with this scrumptious salad. Balsamic vinegar adds flavor without the calories and keeps this dish at under 140 per serving. Serve with a sandwich, an omelet or even as dessert.
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