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My dad used to combine them.

With the large melon over his head, he cannonballed it down to the ground where it shattered into shards and chunks. The explosion was more fun than eating the melon. Crawling on the tarp, picking up pieces was our version of a yard party.

That’s how we ate watermelon on hot summer days. With juice dripping down my chin I’m more of an over-the-sink gal now, but even with a knife and fork, watermelon is still one of my favorite summer fruits.

A summer weekend requires foods to help you stay cool. Keep the ice cubes coming to cool iced tea and coffee. But water’s not the only cube in town. Freeze watermelon cubes to add to lemonade. Freeze berries, pineapple chunks and grapes to flavor water or keep sangria cool. Lay fruit on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and freeze for 1-2 hours.

Juicy fruits and vegetables are more good hydration solutions. Cucumbers are 96 percent water. Celery is 95 percent, watermelon is 92 and strawberries are 91 percent water. Use them in a cool gazpacho soup or salsa, a smoothie or just to munch.

Refreshing watermelon is a friend to your skin. Rich in lycopene, more than in any other fresh fruit or vegetable, this antioxidant is being studied for a potential role in protection to skin from harmful UV rays. Uh, that’s when you eat it, not rub it on.

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Watermelon grows best in warm temperatures, so it is in season now. Look for a melon that is free from bruises and cuts with a creamy, yellow spot where it sat on the ground as it ripened. It should feel heavy for it’s size. Rinse it before you cut it and once it’s cut, store in the fridge.

Shop for berries that are firm, dry, plump and smooth-skinned, with a silvery surface bloom. Size isn’t an indicator of ripeness but color is, berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black. Reddish blueberries aren’t ripe, and won’t ripen once they are picked. Avoid blueberries that look soft or shriveled or have any signs of mold. Refrigerate fresh blueberries when you get them home and rinse them just before eating.

You may serve watermelon in a more sophisticated way, but my dad’s way was spectacular. This colorful fruit salad is an easy way to celebrate the Fourth.Red, white and blue salad

Be sure to rinse whole watermelons under running water before cutting.

  • 3 cups watermelon, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, torn into pieces

Combine watermelon, blueberries, and lime juice. Sprinkle feta and mint just before serving.

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Judy Barbe is a registered dietitian, speaker and author of “Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being.” Visit her website www.LiveBest.info for every day food solutions.

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