By Susan Levy
As a grandmother, it would be easy to let my practice of eating a Mediterranean based diet slip momentarily when the grandchildren come to visit. Then I remember, times have changed. I can be that sweet treat grandma AND stay with the Mediterranean principles of heart-healthy eating.
The Mediterranean Diet at a glance
At the core of this sustainable eating plan are grains, veggies and fruit, whole or minimally processed. This guideline gives me a lot of latitude, especially as I prepare for summer when three generations of family and friends will gather and dine together. It’s always fun but can get complicated quickly.
That’s why I try to follow these 3 simple rules:
1. Keep food preparation to a minimum, preferably prepared in advance.
2. Use seasonal fruits and veggies.
3. Create recipes for children and tweak them for adult taste buds.
I started with the most nostalgic of summer foods–watermelon. Who doesn’t remember seed spitting contests in the back yard and getting your hands and face sticky from slurping the slices? Today, watermelon is also known for its heart-healthy qualities. It’s 92% water, so it keeps everyone hydrated when they aren’t even aware of it. Watermelon has less than 50 calories and only 2.5 teaspoons of sugar per cup, plus almost 25% of your daily vitamin C.
Back to preparation:
The small seedless watermelons were on sale so I bought 2 for $5.00. I also bought limes and picked mint from my garden. That’s it for ingredients.
Knife, cutting board, blender, 2 ice cube trays, 1 popsicle mold with 4 sticks,
4 cup mason jar, 1 platter, zester
When pureed, every cup of watermelon loses ½ cup volume.
Watermelon Popsicle Recipe
Chop 2 cups watermelon into small pieces and place in blender.
Put on puree and whirl.
Fill molds and freeze.
Watermelon Mocktails (or Not) Recipe
Chop 6 cups watermelon into small pieces and place in blender.
Put on puree and whirl.
Fill a 4 cup mason jar with puree and sink 1-3 mint stalks in the jar. Refrigerate.
Pour into glasses as shown here with sprig of mint.
Pour into martini or wine glasses, add a shot of gin, a squeeze of lime and a sprig of mint. Watermelon never tasted this good!
Watermelon Lime Dessert Recipe
Take a large slice of watermelon about 1.5 inches thick and cut into a square shape, removing rind. Place on platter.
With a long knife, cut into four rows each way, yielding 16 pieces.
Finish with lime zest. Refrigerate.
Just before serving, squeeze lime juice all over the watermelon pieces.
Place in the middle of the table. 4 pieces per person is one cup, just 48 calories.
Watermelon Granita with Blueberries Recipe
Blend 4 cups of watermelon. Fill 2 ice cube trays and freeze.
Once frozen, (about 3 hours later) place in food processor with blade. Gently process.
Fill glasses as follows: 1/3 frozen watermelon, 1/3 fresh berries, 1/3 watermelon.
Top with blueberries and a sprig of mint.
Make extra ice cubes to use in lemonade.
Other Watermelon Recipes
- Watermelon Greek salad with feta, chopped mint, and black olives
- Watermelon with other berries and soft fruit, mix with chopped mint for summer fruit salad
- Watermelon-Cantaloupe Soup (1 cup each watermelon and cantaloupe puree) with a dollop of plain yogurt
Get the drift? Keep it simple, keep it fun for all. That’s what I plan to do.
Susan Levy shows people how to eat for their hearts’ content. As best-selling author of Well-Fed Heart publications, she has over 20 million booklets in print. Susan partners with medical centers across the country, translating research on wellness, nutrition and best practices into easy-to-follow healthy lifestyle choices, including recipes for heart-healthy living.
Susan is also the creator of The 4 Minute Kitchen Makeover and Heart-Healthy Kitchen Time, bringing practical skills directly into people’s homes. With 25 years of experience specializing in heart-healthy living, she knows that small changes can lead to big rewards. Through e-learning, interactive workshops, classes and public speaking, Susan teaches how to create a kitchen environment that supports your best health.
She is known for her dietitian-approved “5 Steps or Less” recipe collections for heart-health, diabetes wellness and cancer prevention, as well as the e-book MEDITERRANEAN DIET RECIPES IN 5 STEPS OR LESS.
Susan began her career at Newsweek and NBC Radio before moving the the Northwest to produce and host a TV news magazine show. She also facilitated healthcare programming specials for the radio and tv properties of Fisher Broadcasting. Susan is a spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s Go Red campaign.
Well-Fed Heart content is also featured on allrecipes.com as a healthy recipe resource and the industry respected Smart Brief for Nutritionists.