One In a Melon

Knock knock. Who’s there? A ripe, juicy watermelon. Watermelons are a staple in most households during the summer months. Enjoying my third trimester of pregnancy in the summer has been a bit of a challenge at times, but a few slices of cold watermelon always hits the spot and cools me off. It’s actually one of the very few cravings I’ve had…weird, I know. Who craves healthy foods when they’re pregnant??

Choosing a ripe melon can be hit or miss. Most people thump on them to check their ripeness, but what exactly are they listening for? I personally don’t use the sound test. There are mixed theories on the sounds a ripe watermelon makes, but most bank on those that make a hollow sound when you thump on them with your knuckles. It takes quite a bit of practice to tell the difference between ripe and unripe watermelons, so here are some sure fire tips I use instead to bring home a winner.

  1. Pick a few watermelons that are about the same size. Choose the heaviest one. This indicates its juiciness. The heavier the watermelon, the juicier it will be.
  2. Look for the field spot. The field spot is the patch of white or yellow that develops as the watermelon sits on the field and ripens. A ripe watermelon will have a large, creamy yellow spot. The deeper the color, the longer it spent time on the vine ripening. Avoid small, non-existent, or white field spots. These are found on melons that were picked too early. Watermelons won’t continue to ripen once they’re picked like other fruits such as bananas, which contain ethylene.

3. Choose a dark green watermelon with a dull rind. A shiny rind is underripe.

4. Squeeze the sides of the watermelon. You’re looking for a little bit of “give” here. The rind shouldn’t be soft, but it shouldn’t be rock hard either.

 

Get to the grocery store and give these tips a try, then enjoy you some deliciousness!

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Go Nuts for Rosemary

Holiday time = party time. Kinda. Clearly, there’s more to the holidays than enjoying one too many cocktails and eating too much food with your friends and family. The truth is though, you’re probably seeing more of your loved ones during this time of year and may even be hosting a party or two of your own.

These roasted rosemary mixed nuts will wow your guests with the explosion of spicy, sweet, and savory flavors in each bite. I was inspired by the bar nuts at Union Square Cafe in New York, but kicked these up a notch with the garlic powder and a few other tweaks. These are best served warm, but the left overs still taste amazing once they’ve cooled (if there are any leftovers, that is). Don’t blame me if these turn into your new favorite snack!

What you’ll need:

  • 16 oz. unsalted raw mixed nuts (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F
  • Wash and finely chop rosemary
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the nuts evenly on the sheet
  • Bake for 15 minutes until they are lightly toasted
  • While the nuts are roasting, combine the rosemary, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, and garlic powder in a large bowl.
  • Melt the butter in a separate bowl.
  • Remove the nuts from the oven after 15 minutes and toss them in the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the melted butter on top of the nuts and rosemary mixture. Mix well to evenly coat nuts.
  • Place the mixed nuts back on the baking sheet with parchment paper and continue roasting for another 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven. Lightly toss and serve.

Don’t eat them all before your guests arrive 🙂

 

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Bell Pepper Cup Pizza

Sometimes you just have to say no. But how do you say no to the delicious perfection that is pizza?? You could walk away from that slice (or three – let’s be honest) OR you could make low-carb bell pepper pizza!

Serving size: 6

What you’ll need:

  • 6 bell peppers (choose your favorite color or mix and match like me)
  • 1 package ground turkey
  • 5 oz. pepperoni
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 32 oz. pizza sauce
  • 1 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

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Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375° F
  • Wash bell peppers and slice vertically down the middle. Remove seeds.

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  • Cook onions with olive oil until translucent
  • Add ground turkey, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cook thoroughly, until no pink remains.
  • Take half of the contents from the pepperoni packet and chop finely. Add to ground turkey.
  • Add pizza sauce to the ground tukey-pepperoni mixture and bring to a simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Take a baking sheet and line with parchment paper (you’ll thank me during the clean up later)
  • Spoon the ground turkey-pepperoni mixture into the bell pepper halves

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  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Meanwhile, mix the shredded mozzarella with the whipped cream cheese
  • Remove bell pepper cups from the oven and add dollops of the mozzarella and cream cheese mixture. Finish with remaining pepperoni slices. (Tip: Slice pepperoni toppings in halves to cut back on calories)
  • Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts

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No Use Crying Over Chopped Onions

It happens to all of us. You’re making dinner, using a recipe that calls for onions. You grab an onion from your pantry or countertop and tears uncontrollably start running down your face the minute you cut into it. Well, cry no more!

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To help understand the science behind your tears, I’m going to geek out a tiny bit. Onions contain naturally occurring sulfur compounds. When you cut into an onion, you break the cells within the onion, releasing enzymes. These enzymes react with the  sulfur compounds, which start drifting up towards your eyes. When our eyes are exposed to irritants such as dust, pollen, or in this case, sulfur gas, the brain triggers the production of tears to wash away the irritant. The combination of water from your tears and sulfur gas form sulfuric acid, which is the reason for the burning sensation and your mascara running down your face.

To keep from crying, my go to method is to refrigerate onions for an hour before cutting them. The colder temperature helps to slow the enzyme-sulfur reactions and changes the chemistry in the onion. Give it a try! No tears, I promise.

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P.S. Proper long term storage for unpeeled onions is in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Onions should not be stored in the fridge for a prolonged period of time since the increased humidity will actually cause them to spoil faster.

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Let’s Get Tropical!


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I have a major sweet tooth, but I find myself craving a lot of fruit, especially anything tropical in the summer. I love me some mangoes, coconuts, pineapples, and lychees. Yum!

It’s technically not summer anymore, but it sure doesn’t feel like fall yet in LA. I recently tried something new and served this pineapple whip at a party we were hosting. I’m so happy it ended up a being a hit, especially since it only takes 5 minutes to make! You’ll be able to please both the health nuts and the big butts {lol} with this quick and easy recipe.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 ripe pineapple, chopped into cubes, then frozen overnight OR 16 oz. bagged frozen pineapples
  • 1 cup coconut cream {I bought a can from Trader Joe’s}
  • Optional: lightly toasted coconut flakes as a topping

Instructions:

  • Add the frozen pineapple cubes and coconut cream in a high speed blender
  • Blend until the mixture turns into a smooth and frosty thickness
  • TIP: blend and stop periodically to ensure it doesn’t turn too liquidy. You’ll also need to scoop down the pineapple from the sides of the blender.
  • Pour into dessert cups
  • Optional: top with lightly toasted coconut flakes.

Serving Size: 4

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Give it a try and tell me what you think!

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