As the unofficial fruit of summer, watermelon is a refreshing and hydrating addition to any meal. But all too often, this juicy red fruit is reserved for salads or snacking only.
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Thanks to its versatility, there are a plethora of ways to enjoy this seasonal delight. Here, registered dietitians share healthy and delicious watermelon recipes that take the fruit beyond a quick salad.
1. Roasted Watermelon Pork Ribs
In addition to being a protein source, pork is rich in vitamin B12, selenium and zinc, which help support our immune and nervous systems and metabolism and energy, says Allison Thibault, RDN, lead clinical nutritionist at RWJ Barnabas Health and founder of VitalTotalHealth.
When you add in the watermelon, you'll reap the perks of this powerhouse that's full of vitamins A and C, which are essential antioxidants that work to reduce inflammation and stress within our body, as well as support our eye, skin and brain health, Thibault adds.
Get the Roasted Watermelon Pork Ribs recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Watermelon Fruit Pizza
In addition to being low in calories, Thibault calls this recipe a superfood powerhouse. Nearly every ingredient offers a benefit to our body.
Vanilla yogurt packs in protein to strengthen our muscles and keep us full while providing probiotics that support a healthy gut microbiome, aiding in digestion. The touch of mint doesn't just prevent bad breath, but it also battles gas and bloating, Thibault says.
If you have a dairy sensitivity or intolerance, Tamar Samuels, RDN and co-founder of Culina Health recommends swapping out the yogurt for a plant-based alternative.
Get the Watermelon Fruit Pizza recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Watermelon Chia Seed Fresca
After an intense outdoor workout under the sun, this beverage is a refreshing way to cool down and replenish your body. Though watermelon will be the overpowering taste, the nutritional star of this recipe is the chia seeds.
One tablespoon of these tiny warriors offers omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and stress, Thibault says. And because watermelon is mostly water, it offers a twist on plain H2O.
"Watermelon helps hydrate your cells, skin and organs while keeping your brain sharp. Staying hydrated keeps your metabolism at its best while allowing your body to function at optimal levels," she explains.
Samuels recommends adding a dash of sparkling water to make this drink a spritzer. And if you like a bit of a kick, consider sprinkling in cayenne or smoked chili pepper.
Get the Watermelon Chia Seed Fresca recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Watermelon Blueberry Salsa
Move aside traditional salsa — this creative, refreshing and antioxidant-packed version will be the hit of your next barbecue.
While this recipe does include some classic ingredients, like jalapeño and tomatoes, it also sneaks in blueberries.
The blue fruit offers many vitamins and minerals, but specifically, a generous dose of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants linked to better heart health, Thibault explains.
Get the Watermelon Blueberry Salsa recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Chili Lime Cucumber Noodle With Watermelon
Every bite of this summer-inspired salad will thrill your senses with various textures and flavors. In fact, you may enjoy it so much you won't realize how good for you it truly is!
Thibault explains that the pumpkin seeds, arugula, watermelon, basil and mint all support our hormone balance and give us the tools we need to combat stress. The pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of manganese, a mineral that plays an integral part in metabolism and our body's ability to sleep well at night.
The combo of mint, arugula and basil help promote healthy digestion, too.
Get the Chili Lime Cucumber Noodle With Watermelon recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Watermelon Gazpacho
Gazpacho is often served as a chilled appetizer before the mains arrive. This creative take injects watermelon into the recipe, adding even more hydration and digestive benefits.
Watermelon and tomato both offer health-promoting properties thanks to their high content of lycopene, an antioxidant that supports our immune and heart health, Thibault says. Add fresh basil to the blender to give it an extra burst of flavor.
Get the Watermelon Gazpacho recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Coconut Lime Mahi Mahi Tacos With Tequila Soaked Watermelon Salsa
Ideal for Taco Tuesdays, this exotic, healthy dish will wow everyone at your table. In addition to providing a balance of protein, fiber and healthy fats, Thibault says these tacos also make for a satisfying meal with the right amount of taste variety and crunch.
While you might not think much of sprinkling a dash of spices onto these tacos, you may be surprised to learn that the chili powder and paprika are linked to reduced inflammation, Thibault explains. Then, the mango, basil and garlic serve as digestive aids, helping to break down our food.
Get the Coconut Lime Mahi Mahi Tacos With Tequila Soaked Watermelon Salsa recipe and nutrition info here.
8. Dairy-Free Watermelon Ice Cream
Dairy-free, delicious, satisfying and hydrating, this watermelon ice cream is the perfect summer evening snack. It also boasts few ingredients — and they all serve a purpose.
Coconut milk is a healthy fat source and helps keep us fuller for longer since it's thick and creamy, Thibault explains, adding that Medjool dates are naturally high in carbs and sugars, making them an excellent pre- or post-workout snack.
For those who don't like the taste of coconut, Thibault says cashew milk offers just as much creaminess and flavor while being nutrient-dense.
"Cashews are rich in unsaturated fats that promote heart health and decrease the risk of heart disease and premature death. The healthy fats and fiber in cashews help slow down blood sugar absorption," she adds.
Get the Dairy-Free Watermelon Ice Cream recipe and nutrition info here.