Want a refreshing summer food to cool down and slim down?  Indulge in cantaloupe.   This mellow gourd gives you a significant boost of nutrients for your eyes and skin as it’s loaded with vitamin C and vitamin A (aka beta-carotene), and it can help lower blood pressure naturally with a good dose of potassium.  Plus, it’s a “skinny” fruit, too – a medium-sized wedge has a mere 23 calories.

Cantaloupe-slices.jpg

 

What can you do with this rough-skinned melon?  My eight-year old son, Grant, loves simply biting into unadulterated wedge after wedge on a hot summer day!  Here are some ways to get creative with cantaloupe in your kitchen.

Simple ways to cool down with cantaloupe:

  • Dice into a mixed greens salad and toss with a vinaigrette.
  • Toss a few bite-sized chunks into plain Greek yogurt.
  • Combine it into a smoothie with green tea, plain yogurt, flax seed and honey.
  • Skewer it with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers and serve as cold appetizer.
  • Cut it in two halves; scoop out the seeds in the middle.  Fill with a dollop of cottage or ricotta cheese; sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Dice it with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a tasty salsa.

I often am asked, how do you know a good melon?  I always say use your three senses: sight, touch and smell.  First, look for a uniform golden color to the melon.  Second, find the stem side (there’s a little indentation) and push on it with your thumbs.  If it yields gently (but not too much), than it’s good.  Lastly, smell the melon.  If it has a pleasant, sweet odor (not musky), that’s perfect.   Check your melon at room temperature – not refrigerated, as that’s best to accurately access the melon’s characteristics.  The good thing is you can ripen cantaloupe on your counter top at home before eating it.  Put it in the refrigerator after cutting it open.

For today’s recipe, I am going to switch up an Italian classic, Caprese Salad, and use cantaloupe in lieu of tomatoes.  Depending upon how ripe the cantaloupe is, it can add a bit of crunch or smoother texture to each bite.  I like to make these small enough for one bite – just pop it in your mouth like a piece of sushi (and it’s less messy that way, too!).

 

Cantaloupe, Basil, Mozzarella Caprese 

Melon-Caprese-.jpg

Makes 4 servings (3 rounds each)

Ingredients

1/2 small cantaloupe, halved, seeded, sliced into bite-sized rounds

6 medium-thick slices fresh mozzarella cheese, cut each in half

12 fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt and black pepper

Directions

On a serving plate, place mozzarella cheese rounds and top each one with a cantaloupe slice and a basil leaf.  Drizzle with oil and vinegar and sprinkle with a salt and pepper.  Serve cold as an appetizer or as a side dish.

 

Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories: 180, Total Fat: 13 g, Saturated Fat: 6 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 34 mg, Sodium: 301 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 6 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 5 g, Protein: 10 g 

 

Happy eating simply,

-Vicki