45 Celsius summer calls for a refreshing dose of a childhood favourite – watermelon. Whether you like it fresh off the rind, or iced to perfection in a slushie, this juicy, hydrating slice of happiness isn’t limited to those sweet indulgences only.
“With childhood obesity on the rise and kids eating worse today than they did 20 years ago, it’s so important for parents to take their children’s diets seriously,” says Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian, nutritionist, and author of Eat Your Way to Happiness.
But, as many busy mums and dads know firsthand, it’s not easy to pack a quality lunch at 6am – especially if your kid is likely to opt for a slice of cafeteria pizza, regardless.
Don’t worry – the war is not lost. It’s entirely possible to get children to eat nutritious lunches, especially if you know your way around fruit and veg. According to Somer, watermelon should be a kitchen staple.
“Watermelon contains lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant, and it’s the pigment that gives watermelon its red colour,” says Somer. “Watermelon is free of cholesterol, fat, and sodium. You can’t get much better than that.”
The juicy fruit, often dubbed a multi-vitamin unto itself, has vitamins A, B6 (6 per cent), C, potassium (8 per cent) and fibre (4 per cent). It’s also great for staying hydrated, a way for picky kids to eat their water. Not to mention, it’s lip-smacking, finger-licking delicious.
For all of you about to harp on how much natural sugar watermelon has, wait just a second. Somer says this is largely a myth, and although watermelon may have a high glycaemic index score, it has very few calories.
“Watermelon just fills you up without filling you out,” Somer says. “The nice thing about watermelon is that it’s chin-dribbling juicy and so versatile. You can eat it straight from the melon, blend it into a beverage, make popsicles out of it, make sweet salsas, grill it, put it in sandwiches, etc.”
Watermelon is often mistaken for a summer treat but it’s available all-year-round. It’s also surprisingly portable once chopped up and put in baggies or Tupperware.
Check out these quick and easy watermelon recipes perfect for on-the-go lunches:
- 1 serving 2.5cm cubes of seedless watermelon
- 1 serving smoked turkey breast
- 1 serving low-fat or fat-free cheddar cheese
- 1 serving coffee stirrers or beverage straws
Cut watermelon, turkey and cheese in cubes, and skewer on stirrers or straws.
Watermelon Poke Bowl
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 -1/2 cup watermelon juice
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 green onions, cut on the diagonal with whites and greens separated
- 3 medium cloves garlic or 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger-root
- 1/3 white onion, thinly sliced
- 340g ahi tuna, cut into 1.2cm cubes
- 1 small avocado, diced
- 2/3 cup diced watermelon
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
- serving pickled ginger (sushi ginger or gari)
In a medium bowl, mix the soya sauce, watermelon juice, chili sauce, oil, the white portion of green onions, garlic, ginger-root and the onion. Add the tuna; toss and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Ten minutes before serving, add the avocado and return to the refrigerator.
Plate as desired and top with watermelon and green onions then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with pickled ginger.
Greek Pitta Flatbread
- 4 wedges seedless watermelon (bite-size pieces)
- 1 cup diced cooked chicken
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- dash cayenne pepper
- 2 whole pita breads, halved or whole-grain flatbreads
- 1/4 cup prepared spreadable herb cheese
- 4 large lettuce leaves
Place the sliced watermelon on paper towels to remove any excess liquid. Mix the chicken, cilantro, yoghurt, garlic salt, and cayenne. Spread inside the surfaces of the pitta bread halves with herbed cheese and fill each with about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture. Arrange the watermelon and lettuce in the pitta bread.