Melons make for a refreshing and lower-calorie treat during the warmer months. Most melons weigh in at under 50 calories per one-cup serving, and they contain fiber.

Watermelons contain vitamin C and potassium, as well as a high water content, which contributes to hydration. Cantaloupe is an excellent source of folic acid, potassium, vitamin C and fiber. Honeydew melons are an excellent source of vitamin C. You can eat melon alone or add it to smoothies, salads or desserts.

Choosing a good melon:

• Watermelons: Look for the “yellow belly” – a flatter yellowish spot, which indicates it sat on the vine to ripen.

• Cantaloupe: Smell the cantaloupe. If it doesn’t have a smell, it likely doesn’t have a taste either. You want a musky sweet smell to indicate a ripe cantaloupe. You also need to touch it. The skin should give a little, but not feel mushy. You also want to look it over to make sure there are no bruises, spots or punctures.

• Honeydew melon: This melon should have a golden color; brownish freckling is fine and indicates a very sweet melon. The melon should feel firm, but not hard. Smell the melon. It should have a sweet smell. If you shake it, you should be able to hear the seeds rattling around inside.

Melon and chicken pasta salad

Serves 6 (1⅓ cups each).

All you need:

Dressing:

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• ¼ tsp salt

• ½ cup low-fat buttermilk

• ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise

• 3 tbsp chopped, fresh tarragon or 1 tbsp dried

• 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar

Pasta salad:

• 8 oz (about 3 cups) whole-wheat bowtie pasta

• 2 cups cubed cantaloupe or honeydew melon

• 2 cups thinly sliced baby spinach

• 2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken

• ¼ cup dried cranberries

• ¼ cup (about 3 oz) chopped prosciutto

• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

All you do:

To prepare dressing, mash garlic and salt in a medium bowl with the back of a spoon into a chunky paste. Add the buttermilk, mayonnaise, tarragon, and vinegar. Whisk until combined.

To prepare pasta salad, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water, according to package directions. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and let cool. Add melon, spinach, chicken, cranberries, prosciutto, pepper and the dressing; toss to coat.

To make ahead, cover and refrigerate, undressed, for up to one day. Toss with dressing about one hour before serving.

Nutrition facts per serving: 294 calories, 6g fat, 2g saturated fat, 54mg cholesterol, 633mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 25g protein.

Source: www.eatingwell.com

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at tshaffer@hy-vee.com.