Using an unusually large chef’s knife, my father would slice a whole cantaloupe in half, scoop out the seeds and then fill one half of the fruit with a huge scoop vanilla bean ice cream.
Now that’s what I call dessert!
Of course, back then, we picked the cantaloupe out of our backyard garden and we called it a muskmelon (I never even heard the term cantaloupe prior to moving to Atlanta and a little research shows that the vast majority of these melons grown in the U.S. are actually muskmelons, the difference being in the network of webbing on the skin of the melon).
Regardless of what you call them, cantaloupes receive an A+ nutritionally, scoring an "excellent" for both vitamin C and vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids); "very good" for potassium and a host of B vitamins (B1, B3, B6, and folate) as well as vitamin K, magnesium, and fiber.
When the edible seeds of the cantaloupe are eaten, this melon also provides a measurable about of omega-3 fat in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. Who knew?
Individuals with an especially high intake of cantaloupe (along with other fruits) experience a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome (a group of health problems that includes high blood fats, high blood sugars, high blood pressure, and too much body fat, caused by problems in lifestyle that result in chronic underlying levels of unwanted inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body) since cantaloupe provides a wide range of antioxidants that help prevent oxidative stress and a wide range of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that help prevent excessive inflammation and oxidative stress.
In simple laymen’s terms: Cantaloupe rocks!
Eating cantaloupe can be more interesting than just slicing it open and digging in with a spoon. Cantaloupe can be used fresh or frozen in smoothies, wrapped in prosciutto to create a sweet/salty appetizer or even thrown on the grill (brush with honey and butter first, garnish with mint).
Other favorite recipes for cantaloupe include:
2 (8 oz.) cartons plain yogurt (I use non-fat Greek yogurt for added protein)
1/3 c. lemon juice or to taste
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon or taste
3 c. milk1 c. cubed cantaloupe
8 1/4 oz. crushed pineapple, drained
Combine yogurt, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon in a blender. Stir in milk, cantaloupe and pineapple. Blend until smooth. Chill.
I’m making this for dinner tonight at the pool:
Basil & Balsamic Cantaloupe Salad
1/2 medium cantaloupe
2 Roma (plum) tomatoes
10 leaves fresh basil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (use LESS if using table salt)
1/4 tsp. finely ground white pepper
Separate the cantaloupe into 1/2-in. balls using a melon baller or cut into 1/2-in dice. Be sure to keep any juice that comes out when cutting/balling, and pour that into the bowl with the melon.
Cut the tomatoes and dice the cucumber. Add to the bowl with the cantaloupe.
Stack the basil leaves and roll them up together like a cigar. Use a chef's knife to finely slice the roll of basil. The result will be fine, uniform strands of basil.
Whisk the balsamic vinegar and olive oil together in a small bowl. Add the basil, salt, and pepper and stir gently to combine.
Pour dressing over the salad and toss gently. Makes three servings of approximately 1-1/2 cups each.
Editor's note: Write back and let us know if you try any of these delicious recipes.