Hungry for a snack? Instead of rummaging through the pantry for a bag of greasy potato chips or store-bought sandwich cookies, take a deep breath and stop yourself. How about cruising over to your freezer and pulling out a naturally sweet treat that you made yourself with wholesome, real ingredients? A no-guilt watermelon-lime popsicle with just a hint of mint will do the trick, thank you very much. It’s the perfect solution for that afternoon snack craving, and it’s as healthy as it is delicious.
4-5 cups watermelon, removed from the rind, seeded and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly chopped
Honey to taste (probably 1-2 tablespoons)
Pinch of sea salt
Preliminary note: You can purchase popsicle molds and sticks at craft stores, big-box retailers or online. They are not expensive and handy to have for any number of recipes.
First, taste the watermelon. If it’s really sweet, you may want to omit the honey all together. If it’s not sweet enough, use at least 1 tablespoon of honey.
In a blender, add watermelon, lime juice, lime zest, mint, honey and salt. Blend until frothy and smooth. Taste mixture and if necessary add more honey.
Using a sieve, strain watermelon mixture to remove any larger, unblended bits.
Then pour watermelon mixture into popsicle molds.
Freeze for an hour or so or until the mixture is set enough to add the sticks.
Freeze the molds for at least eight hours or until completely solid.
Sound pretty good, don’t they? So why are these popsicles such a healthy alternative snack? Read on, my friends.
What’s so Great About Watermelon?
Besides the inherent fun of carving a watermelon in half with a giant knife, slicing off a wedge and taking a big bite, watermelon is one of the very best things about summer. It’s so sweet and juicy, it’s easy to forget how good for you it is.
Watermelon is crazy high in the antioxidant lycopene, which according to Web MD, is recommended to prevent heart disease, cancer, asthma and even cataracts. National Geographic also points out that consuming watermelon juice before physical activity reduces the heart rate and helps to soothe any resulting sore muscles.
And get this…according to a study by Italian scientists published in Urology, watermelon can act as a natural Viagra. It’s rich with citrulline, an amino acid proven to increase blood flow to the penis. How about that? So pass out the popsicles, baby, and let the party begin.
If you’re watermelon shopping, look for one that is heavy for it’s size. That heaviness means the inside will be red and juicy, perfect for popsicle making.
Lime…It Isn’t Just for Tartness.
Lime not only provides that sour counterbalance to the sweetness of the watermelon, but it is also chock full of vitamin C. According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, vitamin C is a vital antioxidant for the health of your bones, connective tissue and skin.
Scientists agree that the health benefits of eating limes go even further. A recent study concluded that eating limes increased antioxidant levels in rabbits, which in turn helped prevent the formation of plaque in their blood vessels.
But it’s not just the lime’s juice that is beneficial. The zest of citrus fruits is even more rich with nutrients than the fruit itself. Certified holistic nutritionist Aileen Brabazon points out that the rinds are packed with vitamin C, calcium and inflammatory fighting antioxidants. So invest in a zester and go to town! It’ll be good for you.
At the grocery store, stock up on limes when they are on sale. They’ll last easily for a month in the refrigerator if stored in a plastic bag. Can’t use them in time? Put them in the freezer. They’ll keep for up to four months.
Mint Isn’t Just for Tea and Chocolate Candy
It’s refreshing, it’s eye-opening and it’s that extra something special you taste in recipes that makes you sit up and take notice. But mint is also super good for you. Megan Ware RDN LD is a big fan. She says mint is loaded with antioxidants, more so than almost any other food, and can help with everything from the common cold to irritable bowl syndrome. Just smelling the stuff promotes an increase of saliva, which in turn promotes better digestion.
Suffer from migraines? There’s evidence that inhaling or ingesting mint in the early stages of a migraine can be more effective in soothing the symptoms than many over-the-counter treatments.
Here’s more good news—mint grows like wild fire. With minimal effort, even the most hapless gardener can produce and harvest a plentiful supply. If you’d rather buy mint at the grocery store, remember to treat it like a bouquet of flowers when you get it home. Snip off the ends of the stems and place it in a vase-like container with water. Cover the whole thing loosely with a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator. This way, your mint will last for up to two weeks.
Why Sweeten with Honey Instead of Sugar?
It doesn’t take much browsing on the internet these days to find out how bad sugar is for your body, so what’s a sweet-loving person to do? Honey, of course. It’s one of the oldest sweeteners in recorded human history.
Honey contains slightly more calories than sugar, but it is sweeter, so you can use less. Unlike sugar, whose only nutritional value is being a carbohydrate, honey contains small amounts of antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids, B vitamins and minerals. Take that, sugar!
A recent study has proven that honey helps with that nagging nighttime cough that comes with a cold, more so than over-the-counter cough medicine. Jodi Geigle, holistic nutrition counselor, also advocates using honey in place of sugar. She says honey boosts the immune system and soothes indigestion.
To avoid crystallization, do not store your honey in the refrigerator. All it needs is a cool, dry place out of the sunlight and your honey will last a long time.
You Gotta Make These!
So why not take a crack at making watermelon-lime popsicles with mint? Combining all that goodness in one delicious treat? Bam! You’ve got yourself a super snack.