Mouthwatering watermelon recipes

From left to right: Lemony Quinoa and Watermelon Salad, Watermelon Rind, Carrot & Pineapple Slaw...

From left to right: Lemony Quinoa and Watermelon Salad, Watermelon Rind, Carrot & Pineapple Slaw and BBQ Sauce. (Watermelon.org photos)

Rita DeMontis, National Food Editor, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:34 PM ET

After the brutal winter we all suffered through, a summer's heat is so delicious. But it can come at a cost — dehydration.

If you have a dry mouth or feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated, not a good thing when the heat's on. It can also lead to feeling dizzy, tired and even irritable (which may you wishing for a snowstorm in August!). So during the hot summer months or when exercising, staying hydrated is key. Keeping hydrated can be as easy as drinking or eating the right stuff. And if anyone knows this, it's Olympian and national champion, Canadian triathlete Kyle Jones. “Water is obviously important but what many people don’t think about is that certain foods can also be enjoyed for healthy hydration," says Jones, who at age 29 is Canada's top-ranked male triathlete who will be representing Canada in the Commonwealth Games in Canada and next year's PanAm games, as well as competing in his second Olympic games in Brazil in 2016.

What's this ruggedly handsome athlete's go-to food? "I often choose watermelon after training because it tastes great and I know it’s good for me.”

Recent academic studies detail the positive benefits of eating watermelon or drinking fresh watermelon juice. Spanish and U.S. studies from 2013 report that pure watermelon juice (or pure watermelon puree) which is naturally high in the amino acid L-Citrulline has “excellent potential” as a functional drink to relieve sore muscles in athletes and improve cardio-vascular function. Recent research from the American Journal of Hypertension also concludes similar news.

Not surprising given how refreshing a big slice of cold watermelon tastes! Watermelon contains large amounts of free water (it is comprised of 92% water) as well as natural sugars, some electrolytes, vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene (shown to improve heart health and even help protect our skin from harmful UV rays.)

All this and it’s fat free, with just 80 calories for a two-cup serving!

Slice it, cube it, juice it, incorporate it — here's a selection of delicious recipes that will have you wishing for an endless summer, heat and all. (All recipes courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board; Watermelon.org.)

Lemony Quinoa and Watermelon Salad

Adding a bit of fat from the nuts helps boost absorption of the lycopene in watermelon, a compound that helps lower the risk for cancer and heart disease.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) agave syrup
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) rice wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups (500 ml) cooked black quinoa
  • 2 1/2 cups (675 ml) watermelon cubes
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) candied pecans*
  • Mint sprigs

Directions:

In a medium bowl, blend thoroughly agave syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, and salt. Add quinoa and toss until fully coated. Set aside to allow flavours to blend. Add watermelon, kiwi, coconut, and nuts. Toss and divide into four bowls and garnish each with a mint sprig.

Makes 4 servings.

* Purchase already candied nuts or use the following recipe:

Candied Pecans

Toss 1/2 cup (125 ml) pecans with 1 tsp. (5 ml) olive oil. Mix a dash each of ground cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cayenne, cumin, and salt with 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) powdered sugar. Toss nuts with spice blend and roast in a 350F (180C) oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Cool.

Watermelon Rind, Carrot & Pineapple Slaw

Some fruit creates a lot of waste when you throw away the seeds or the peel, but did you know all of the watermelon can be used? Save your rinds and make this yummy slaw.

Ingredients:

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) low-fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. (22.5 ml) stone-ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp. (20 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) sugar
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Slaw:

  • 4 cups (1L) grated watermelon rind with fruit and green peel removed
  • 1 cup (250 ml) grated carrot
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) diced fresh pineapple

Directions:

Place watermelon rind on several layers of paper towels to soak up excess fluid while you prepare dressing and other ingredients.

In a small bowl, blend dressing thoroughly and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl add dressing, rind, carrot, and pineapple and toss to thoroughly coat.

Makes 4 one-cup servings

Watermelon BBQ Sauce

Homemade watermelon juice is easy to make, just blend it up.

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) watermelon juice
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) red pepper flakes

Directions:

Stir all ingredients together. Pour enough sauce over vegetables, chicken, pork, fish or shellfish to marinate. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Baste with additional sauce while grilling or broiling. Sauce not used for marinating or basting can be spooned over cooked vegetables and meats.

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375ml)


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