Summer on a stick! My recipe for Spicy Shrimp & Watermelon Kebabs is a salute to so many things I love about the warm-weather season – grilling, shrimp, watermelon, being outside and enjoying my family.
It’s also featured in the upcoming August/September issue of Simple & Delicious magazine (available on newstands July 12th). . . I just got an advance copy!
In the magazine, I mention how much my three boys love watermelon.
It never fails that every time I’m cubing the watermelon for this recipe, the kids start circling around like flies – I swear, they can eat it faster than I can prep it!
This is the perfect, light meal to make for the 4th of July weekend – guests will marvel that you grilled watermelon, and it’s so easy!
By the way, I like to use Wild Caught Gulf Shrimp from www.sizzlefish.com They are already peeled, de-veined and frozen with no additives – plus all their products are healthy, high-quality perfectly portioned and have an athlete’s lifestyle in mind! These little babies are shipped right to my door in vacuum-sealed in individual serving size packets (8 shrimp per packet) – that allows me to tweak the recipe based on how many people will be joining for dinner!
I could have named this post “Watermelon Wednesday,” but the current title seems so much better because variations of the events that unfold below could happen any day of the year. For reals, I’m always #LivingOnTheWedge , y’all!
5:15 am: Wake up, drink coffee, check my Instagram feed and remember that my friends @WatermelonBoard are hosting a fun photo contest on Instagram. Tag your pics of watermelon #100DaysofWatermelon for chances at prizes all summer long.
6:00 am: Trying to get out the door fast, so I eat a protein bar and chug some watermelon juice – it’s just the hydration I need to tackle my 8 mile run on this hot and muggy morning. Also, research suggests that drinking watermelon juice before an intense exercise session can help reduce heart rate and next-day muscle soreness (thank you L-citrulline)!
6:48 am: Mid run full-bottle chug of Nuun Active (watermelon flavor, natch) – packed optimal electrolytes, made with clean ingredients, low in calories and sugar – plus vegan and gluten-free. Save yourself 20% with discount code NUUNAMBASSADORFRIEND
6:00 pm: Make a batch of my Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad that almost got me on a season of Master Chef, but got thumped in the end. My delicious jumble of healthy foods and warrior spirit couldn’t quite compete with the OCD craziness of a lady who cried when her raspberry rolled 1 millimeter out of place.
As a food and fitness blogger, it’s fun (and sometimes filling!) to test out all the new products that get sent my way. I’m sharing the best from the last couple months (and some perennial favorites) along with any discount codes I might have. If I’ve listed it here, it gets legitimate thumbs up from me – other stuff gets tossed into the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all pile.”
Litehouse Foods Organic Vinaigrette– I develop recipes for this awesome employee-owned company based in Idaho – they have delicious, healthy products ranging from artisan cheeses to Greek yogurt based dips and freeze dried herbs sold all over the US. Right now, I’m really digging their updated organic line which includes new flavors like two of my favorites — Organic Rosemary Balsamic and Organic Ginger Honey. Look for these in the refrigerated section of your produce department, purchase online or enter to win my GIVEAWAY for Five Free Litehouse Foods product coupons (use them on anything they make, not just the dressings – enter at bottom of post).
Somersaults Sunflower Snacks – Available in sweet and savory flavors, these yummy little crackers are made mostly of sunflower seeds and offer up healthy fats, protein and vitamin E. My favorite way to use them is as a crouton alternative on my #BombAssSalads !! Use NEWFAN10 to get 10% off your order.
Nuttzo Nut & Seed Butters – My nutty shines through, Nuttzo has named me a VIP Ambassador for their organic and non-GMO Nut & Seed Butters. This stuff is so good, you’ll want to spread it on everything – or just eat right out of the jar. Save 20% on purchase with discount code FITFORK-20
Bright Planet – There is so much to love about this small, woman-owned bath and skin product company – not only are there eco-friendly, human and organic products wonderfully pampering (loved the scent), but they also are mindful of their place in the bigger world. For example, for each purchase made, Bright Planed donates two healthy meals to children in need. Get Bright Planet on Amazon
Nuun Hydration Tablets – This is not your standard Nuun Ambassador shoutout – I’ve been on the team for years, and am so happy to report that just recently the formula has been improved! They’ve added non-GMO sourced dextrose to help body absorb fluids more efficiently (still keeping under 1g sugar), using only clean ingredients such as plant-based sweeteners, and are gluten, dairy and soy free and given a “Clean Sport Certification” by Informed Choice. Use code NUUNAMBASSADORFRIEND at checkout to receive 20% off order.
Vitamin Dose Beverage – I don’t know about you, but I hate swallowing pills. That’s why I was all over these little specially blended cans of drinkable vitamins. They are non-carbonated, caffeine-free, low-calorie and taste good too. Get your Vitamin Dose on Amazon
TsaGnarly Nutrition – I am a protein powder nerd, I love trying all the new ones I find. Totally into the “Chiseled Chocolate” Grass Fed Whey Protein Supplement. It’s made with quality New Zealand Whey (happy cows there, I guess) and offers 12.5 g protein along with BCAAs, Glutamine and no artificial anything. Also, other full-on sports nutrition products including some vegan stuff. Get Gnarly on Amazon
Superior 2 from Altra Running – Okay, disclosure, I’m an Ambassador and admitted junkie of their super light and flash-fast The Ones 2.5 (and all previous versions!). So, it took the color golden yellow and the promise of “more grip and less weight” to get me to try the award-winning trail shoe that everyone’s raves on. I was looking for something that was still light on the feet, take me from trail running to gym and me obstacle course appropriate – score! Get Altra Superior 2 on Amazon
Tsamma Juice — Tsamma Juice from Frey Farms makes me swoon plus, it’s another woman-owned biz. Everyone knows what a huge watermelon fan I am (for both healthy recipes and sports performance benefits). It’s so awesome to have access to sweet, yummy handcrafted watermelon juice during the middle of winter – look for it at your grocery store in the produce section, Costco or buy online.
Have you tried any of these health and fitness products? What are you favorite new finds? Please share in comments! XOXO – Jennifer
First of all — HAPPY NEW YEAR! Before I move forward into 2016 with all the healthy recipe ideas that are bouncing around in my head, I wanted to share my most loved recipe pins from the last 12 months. If we’re not already following each other on Pinterest, let’s connect today! So, here you go — a collection of pins that are my most popular.
Sweet Potato Cauliflower Mash – This simple-to-make sweet potato dish is paired up with cauliflower for a creamy, dreamy side dish for Thanksgiving or any other time of the year. This side dish recipe has been pinged on Good Housekeeping, Canadian Running Magazine, Glamour and a zillion food, health and wellness blogs.
(Slow Cooker) Salted Chocolate Caramel Crunch – Crunchy cereal, pretzels and an assortment of nuts get a sweet upgrade with a coating of caramel and chocolate. The secret surprise is that this easy snack mix recipe is made in the slow cooker!
Black Bean, Zucchini and Corn Tacos – This summer-inspired vegetarian meal is quick and easy dinner solution for the patio – when the season passes, just swap out the zucchini for a winter squash like butternut!
Balsamic Slow Roasted Tomatoes – Scrumptious beyond imagination, this easy veggie recipe turns what I consider to be a typically bland tomato (if purchased from a consumer grocery store) into a magical topping for salads, eggs, steaks, pasta and more. Also, freezeable!
Brain-Boosting Cinnamon Peach Smoothie – One of the things I love most being a healthy food bloggers is explaining how the ingredients in my recipes help optimize well-being. For example, the cinnamon and natural sugars in this smoothie recipe help improve alertness and brain function – the perfect snack for study sessions or work day pick-me-ups.
Spicy Watermelon BBQ Sauce – I made this quirky barbeque sauce to accompany my Brisket Tacos with Watermelon Rind Relish for the SXSW Taco Takedown in Austin this year. Basically, in Austin, the weirder and wackier the better and this crazy condiment stole the show!
Southwestern Steak Chili – This delicious chili recipe fills the kitchen with the scent of smoky, spicy goodness and just might cause a stampede to the table. A bowl full (or two) makes a hearty, happy and healthy meal for even the hungriest hombres in your home.
Strawberry Greek Yogurt Tart – Not only is this strawberry tart gorgeous, it’s better for you made with protein-packed Greek yogurt and a gluten-free chocolate crust. A stunning finale to any celebration or Sunday dinner.
And, because everyone else is doing it (haha), my #BestNine2015 on Instagram. These are the nine most “liked” posts, but not necessarily my favorite – it’s a bunch of abs, inversions and the peculiarly popular yellow shorts.
Most Unexpected Race Win: In October, I was the first OVERALL winner of the Hill Country Half Marathon in Marble Falls, Texas. Granted, the field wasn’t Rock ‘n Roll marathon kind of huge, but that being said, I beat all the women and the MEN with my scrawny legs — the hills were some of the worst I’ve ever seen (not kidding, one went upward for at least half a mile).
Craziest Conditions in a Race: The Spartan Beast Dallas was not what I was planning for, it was crazy! With a half marathon being in my wheelhouse, I expected to nail this race — but unforeseen Texas flooding delayed the start for hours and created a running situation in ankle deep mud the entire distance. I was sore the next day in some pretty weird places! Although hoping to do better, I managed to pull off a 2nd place podium finish in the Elite Master division (and it was only my 2nd Spartan, and first “beast”).
Most Unusual Prize Won in a 2015 Race: A $250 gift card for a tattoo! I am no saying if, when and where I used it!
Best Pre and Post Race Festivities at a Race: Hosted by Health and Cooking Light magazines, The Fit Foodie Run in Austin (but also in Fairfax, Chicago and San Diego) proves that a healthy lifestyle can mesh with culinary enthusiasm! The weekend is packed with celebrity chef tasting, food and fitness interactive demos, yoga sessions, and yoga boot camps – there is so much food! Plus, the goodies and samples you get to take home from the after run are some serious healthy nom-noms – bring a big bag!
Best Running & Fitness Moments on Instagram: Of course, I blew up my @thefitfork profile with photos of my favorite yoga poses and running with friends!
Favorite Women-centric Race: I’ve been an ambassador for Zooma Race Series for 4 or 5 years now and have run that hilly Austin-area half marathon and said – “never again” at the finish line. But, after I catch my breath a few minutes later, I’m like “awesome, that was the best race ever despite the course challenges.” The Austin race is now defunct, but the other fabulous locations across the country beckon for a mini-vacation! Created and run by women, this race focuses on females supporting each other, no matter age, ability or life situation – and the weekends make great girlfriend getaways! My mom and I have made a tradition of it! Even though I’ve been in a role to mentor and support the runners, I can’t tell you how much more energy and inspiration I’ve received from them – always so happy to see those smiles and high-fives at the half-marathon turnaround.
Favorite Yoga Pose: Always the Crow or some variation! Hopefully this time next year, my hamstrings and back will be more bendy and stretchy so my Instagram profile can be more well-rounded!
Running / Workout Injuries: Thankfully, nothing serious this year – eg. no stitches, concussions or pulled rib muscles like last year! Only falling off a box doing the Murph CrossFit WOD and spraining ankle, numerous palm tears, one lost toenail . . . looking for some wood to knock on! Despite the healthy year for me, I did write a helpful post on 4 Ways Sports Injuries Build Better Athletes that will keep all of us focused on end goals.
Weirdest Workout Moment: It would have to be working out with watermelons for the second summer in a row on my #LivingOnTheWedge blog series! I CrossFitted with watermelon, ran with watermelon, and even worked out in the swimming pool with a watermelon! Oh, you don’t want to miss that watermelon pool workout video – please make sure you are wearing Depends. On behalf of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, I will be taking the show on the road at IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo in L.A. in July 2016.
Best Blooper(s): Oh, there are a lot of bloopers and outakes, my phone is filled with them! Practicing on the parallettes is cause for crashing on my face or rear, but still it’s fun. There are also some awkward moments coming out of a handstand in a walkover when my old back decides “no” midway through!
More Bloopers: Because research shows you live longer if you laugh.
Favorite Running and Workout Gear / Fuel:Vim & Vigr Compression Socks (super functional , fashionable and fun in a variety of stripes, polka dots and fun patterns), Altra Running Shoes (I love the super lightweight, zero-drop “The Ones” ) and Nuun for my hydration needs — I’m digging their fairly new product called PLUS for Nunn. Unlike regular Nuun that is virtually calorie free (there are a few, but under 10), PLUS provides a boost with fast absorbing performance carbohydrates that keep me hydrated and provide quickly sourced energy for demanding endurance events. Also, I still love my bottle of Core Power High Protein Shake in Chocolate Lite Flavor for 20g of quality protein to help my muscles recover right after a long run or intense workout.
I’m also really appreciating mobility gear from ACUMOBILITY – a great company that I connected with this year at The Running Event that not only makes rollers and other mobility products, but also assesses, corrects and unifies movement to reduce injuries and unlock improved performance. Stay tuned because I will be having an awesome giveaway at the beginning of January! And, for “on the go” rolling, I really love The Original Worm (based right here in Austin).
Most Used Mantra: When times get tough in a race, I break out the “If you can take it, you can make it”line from Unbroken. Or, when I try to get too controlling about stuff – “Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. What are you? This moment.” – from Dan Millman’s book , “The Way of the Peaceable Warrior” Both books are so inspirational — read them!
Favorite Kettle Bell Workout:
My Best Way to Stay Motivated: When I start to feel burned out, I take an active fun day! And, always more crazy with my friend Valerie (by the way, she’s an internationally known running coach, not kidding — check her out at @runrx )
The summer season takes too long to get here and then leaves so fast. I’ll personally miss the extended daylight to get in all my outdoor activities and wearing running shorts, flip flops and a ponytail 24/7! At least in Texas, we have a few more weeks (make that months) of warm weather to pack in some farewell picnics and patio dining. I don’t know about you, but I adore al fresco dining – something about eating outdoors makes me eat slower, savor the actual taste off food and linger a little longer over good conversation. With Labor Day weekend coming up, my family, friends and I will have plenty of opportunity to bond in the back yard and down at the boat dock.
Spritzers are always a favorite with the adults in my family – and since I’m not a big drinker (full disclosure, I’m a lightweight who might fall on her face after one full drink — but I can have “half”), I appreciate a cocktail that has a lighter touch of alcohol. Beso Del Sol White Sangria made such a delicious base for my Watermelon Spritzer, I’m so glad I had the big box because I had to go inside mid-party and stir up another batch! Beso Del Sol White Sangria is made from 100% Spanish wine blended with fruit to create a refreshing and sweet drink that is ideal for any warm weather get-together. While my Watermelon Spritzer recipe adds extra fresh fruit and flavored sparkling water, this wine is also delicious on its own merits served chilled or over ice.
To make the Watermelon Spritzer, simply add a glass one-third full of your favorite seasonal fruit (I used watermelon, grapes and peaches). Next, add chilled Beso Del Sol White Sangria to approximately the half-way point, more or less to taste and tolerance. Top with cold lemon-lime sparkling water, stick a sugar cane swizzle stick in it and enjoy!
Since it’s still pretty hot, I’ll want to make sure EVERYONE has a cold drink in hand – I am the coolest mom in town, after all! The kids will love a virgin alternative where I’ve swapped in lemon-lime soda for the wine – I also have rounded up a few other fun, fruity and thirst-quenching drinks that are perfect for your Labor Day al fresco dining.
School may be starting, but that summer weather will be around these parts for a while — and that means I can count on good watermelons through October here in Texas. Yeehaw! When chopping up fresh watermelon for my kids’ lunchboxes, I always hide set aside a bowlful in the fridge to use as the superstar ingredient in in one of my salad creations. This weekend, “Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad was inspired by a dish I could both serve outdoors for al fresco dining (squeezing out the last few drops of summer pleasure before vacation ends) and also to package up during the week to take to school and work.
“Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad lives up to its name – it’s super beautiful in shades of red made with ripe watermelon, shredded fresh beets and red onion. In addition to all the gorgeous nutrition these super food veggies offer, this quick and easy salad recipe offers enough protein to make it a meal thanks to hearty red quinoa and sprouted pumpkin seeds. Yes, you CAN eat watermelon seeds contrary to the old wives’ tale that eating them might make the fruit grow in your belly!
I buy sprouted watermelon seeds to put on this salad and eat as a snack right out of the bag. Why “sprouted” seeds? Not only does the sprouting process make them easier to eat and digest than the big black seeds, they are high in protein and a good source of iron and heart-healthy fats. Sprouting seeds “wakes up” dormant seeds and kick starts the germination process that unlocks all their nutritional benefits. You could make sprouted watermelon seeds at home, but busy-me prefers to buy – you could also substitute sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in the recipe if you can’t find them.
Over the course of #LivingOnTheWedge this summer, I’ve received lots of reader comments and questions about watermelon. I’m sharing what I know with you inquiring minds of melon – another great resource for all things watermelon (including nutrition, recipes, and fun facts) is Watermelon.org.
What’s the best way to store a watermelon and for how long can you keep it?Storing watermelons at 55° F is ideal, according to Watermelon.org. However, whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature – any longer and they’ll start they’ll lose flavor and texture. After cutting, store watermelon in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. After cut, wrap watermelon in plastic or keep in an airtight container at 36° – 39°F. Also, I’ve noticed if you let watermelon sit in the juice that collects at the bottom of the container for too long, it loses the signature crisp texture – so I always drain off (and drink or save) the juice every time I get into my stash. Another strategy to maintain freshness is to keep melon stored in big chunks or slices as opposed to little bites. This cuts down on the amount of juice that drains out in the bottom of the container.
Do you know why watermelon helps alleviate morning sickness while pregnant? The high water content in watermelon (92 percent) along with magnesium and potassium helps keep pregnant women from getting dehydrated, a dangerous condition that can also make nausea worse. Additionally, the cool, mild, lightly sweet flavor of watermelon is easy to tolerate when queasy, especially when paired with other known upset tummy tamers like ginger, lemons or limes. Check out my recipe for Watermelon Ginger Limeade — take a few sips every 10 minutes until you feel better!
Is it safe to eat a watermelon that was accidentally left in the car overnight in the summer? My first reaction to this question was – “yes, don’t watermelons grown in the hot sun anyway?” But experts say to abide by the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule. So, I would say if the outdoor temp was close to “room temp” then eat, if hotter, throw it away (as horrifying as that is).
Is it okay to swallow watermelon seeds? One reader said she remembered swallowing her share of seeds during watermelon eating contests as a kid, and was worried about the consequences. Unlike the fear that our mothers instilled in us as young-uns, watermelon seeds are 100 percent safe for consumption. There is nothing at all harmful about them and a watermelon won’t even sprout in your belly! Today’s recipe for “Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad even uses easier to digest “sprouted” watermelon seeds (which can be grown or, easier, bought at a health food store) – they are actually good source of protein and alternative for people with nut allergies.
How many kinds of watermelon are there and which is the best? There are more than 300 varieties of watermelons grown around the world, although not that many are readily available in your local market. The Crimson Sweet is a popular choice that is reliably sweet –check out this link that sums up some of the best from Saveur. And, if looking to pick the BEST watermelon out of the bin, check out these Tips for Picking Watermelon.
What are you packing in lunchboxes this week? Aside from “don’t swallow watermelon seeds,” what other superstitious advice has your mother given you? Do you have any unanswered watermelon questions? Please share and/or ask in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
BTW, this post was sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board — however, unless otherwise noted, all recipes, editorial content, and enthusiasm for watermelon are all my own.
Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad
This delicious Watermelon Quinoa Salad is packed with nutritious benefits and is great f or Labor Day entertaining, summer parties and lunch boxes!
Place watermelon in blender and blend for about 1 minute, or until flesh is broken down. Pour watermelon through fine mesh strainer, collecting juice in a glass measuring cup. Collect 1 ½ cups of watermelon juice, reserving 1 cup for quinoa and ½ cup for dressing.
Rise uncooked quinoa in fine mesh strainer and place in saucepan with 1 cup of watermelon juice. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until juice is absorbed. Pour cooked quinoa in bow and let cool in fridge for 30 minutes.
While quinoa is chilling, make dressing by adding ½ cup of reserved watermelon juice to bowl. Wisk in jalapeno, salt, pepper, stevia, olive oil and cilantro. Set aside.
Pull quinoa out of fridge. Add beets, red onion, green onion and spouted watermelon seeds to quinoa and toss with watermelon vinaigrette.
Monday August 3rd, is National Watermelon Day . . . well, officially anyway. In my world of #LivingOnTheWedge, I celebrate my favorite fruit every single day that I can – and thankfully, in Texas, we have a really long watermelon season! But, I couldn’t let this specifically mandated day of melon mania disappear without its just and juicy due. So, I’m hosting a giveaway courtesy of Watermelon.org (see bottom of post to enter) and sharing some fit, flavorful and fantastically creative recipes from my Fitfluential Ambasador friends.
All these smart ladies also tout the fantastic nutritional ways watermelon can support an active lifestyle – I’m talking natural sugars needed to fuel fitness, electrolytes to maintain water balance, and vitamin C to bolster immunity. Plus, did you know watermelon is the lycopene leader among fresh produce?! Also, some studies are showing that athletes who drink watermelon juice before a hard workout benefit from a lowered heart rate and reduction in next-day muscle soreness thanks to blood vessel dilation and improved circulation cause by the amino acid L-citrulline. Check out the healthy recipes below and make one today!
(recipe descriptions starting at top, moving clockwise)
Coconut, Rice and Watermelon Salad Bowls from CotterCrunch.com: If you’re tired of the same-old, same old -salad, this beauty in a bowl will surely catch your attention. Coconut cream, jasmine rice, watermelon chunks and raisins mingle together in one amazing bowl of nourishment! Light, refreshing, gluten free, and delicious!
Beluga, Lentil & Watermelon Salad from UprootFromOregon.com: This Beluga Lentil and Watermelon Caprese Salad is an unexpected upgrade from the traditional caprese you might see on an Italian menu – juicy tomatoes, torn mozzarella, and basil leaves are complimented with staying power of protein from black lentils. Oh, and the watermelon . . . swoon!
Sugar Free Watermelon Sorbet (Video) from Fitfluential.com: Check out this video that will lead you through the surprisingly easy steps of making a big dish of frozen watermelon deliciousness – it’s just lightly sweetened with stevia and the natural sugars of watermelon.
Rosemary Watermelon Lemonade from PlaidandPaleo.com: This tall glass of lemony goodness is uniquely yummy thanks to the use of herbs and ice-cold watermelon. Honey is used as the sweetener to keep every sip free of refined sugars.
Restaurant Style Watermelon Margaritas from ArisMenu.com: When day’s end need a little happy, this flavor-packed libation will rock your either your socks or sandals off – or both depending on your style!
Easy Watermelon Gazpacho from PancakeWarriors.com: Soup in the summer has never been more refreshing than with a chilled bowl of this tomato and cucumber based gazpacho – the secret ingredient is naturally watermelon, and it is absolutely wonderful to the last slurp.
I celebrated MY July birthday with a recipe I created for just for ME! It was a healthy Chocolate Cherry Watermelon “Cake” and I did end up sharing the real deal with family and friends – and the recipe with you. Not only is this cake a show stopper, there is lots of good in every slice with very little guilt!
Have you seen the other ways I’ve been celebrating watermelon and #LivingOnTheWedge this summer? To name a few, I hit nearly every watermelon stand and farmer’s truck this side of the Mississippi River, kicked off the warm-weather season with a crazy Watermelon Pool Workout, a CrossFit Style Partner WOD used watermelons every which way imaginable on picnics.
Enter my Watermelon Gift and Goodies Giveaway — one lucky reader will get the following prizes to help celebrate watermelons every day of the year —-> -Pool Float (Awesome), Apron, Socks, Scarf, Kitchen Scrubber, Note Pad, Pen, Book and Star Cookie Cutters (for making watermelon stars!).