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:
• 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
• 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.