small measures with ashley: watermelon fever!


(Image of gorgeous ‘Moon & Stars’ watermelons from Big Daddy Seashell)

I’ve been learning over the past 6 1/2 months that there is a reason a number of ideas surrounding pregnancy persist as greatly as they do. It’s because, in short, they’re true. You really do get heartburn as your organs get squished into new and unfamiliar locations. Your hands and feet do get puffy, causing your shoes to fit a bit more snugly. And you actually do crave watermelon. A lot.

Perhaps it’s the high water content, perhaps it’s the inherent lycopene (beneficial to both momma and growing nudger alike), perhaps it’s because it’s good and sweet and crispy and everything that you are SO not feeling yourself in the swelter of summer as your belly bulges. I don’t really know. I haven’t questioned why pregnant women crave watermelon. I can only attest that they do. Oh, and how. And I came to this knowledge using the highly scientific, rigorously tested “ask other pregnant ladies” method, which is, without question, clearly fool-proof and without bias.


(Image from Vegetable Seed)
I went on a bit of a watermelon bender around two months ago. I suppose, in retrospect, that it would have behooved me to have gone for a mini melon, much as those touted in this recent NY Times piece, instead of the whoppers I tore into. While I can now vouch that it really is possible to have too much of a good thing, I didn’t care at the time. And, after tempering my consumption, I returned to watermelon with considerably more restraint, and a willingness to doctor it up in all manner of applications.


As summer begins its gradual wind-down, the green orbs are at their peak period of watery, delicious ripeness. This is absolutely the ideal time to chop into one. I’ve listed below my favorite ways of gorging on this good stuff. With a beverage, salad, and simple snack, there’s bound to be an option that appeals to the watermelon lover in you. If you need a bit of a guiding hand in choosing the perfect melon, check out this tutorial for expertly spotting watermelon bliss.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Ashley’s post and her “Agua Fresca” recipe after the jump!

Agua Fresca

recipe by Whole Foods Market (we served this back at my birthday “Build Your Own Taco” buffet in July and it was an instant hit)

The Goods:

-6-8 lbs. seedless watermelon, cut into 2-inch pieces

-2 c. cold water, divided

-1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

-1 Tbsp. agave nectar or honey (more or less to taste)

-Ice cubes

-Lime slices and mint leaves for garnish (optional)

The Deal:

-Cut the watermelon flesh from the rind.

-In a blender, process half the watermelon pieces with 1 c. of water until smooth.

-Pour through a strainer into a pitcher.

-Repeat the process with the remaining melon and water. You should end up with about 8 c. of juice.

-Stir in the lime juice and agave or honey.

-Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with lime slices and mint.

*If you want a spot of hooch with your juice, toss in a splash of vodka.

Watermelon & Tomato Salad with Feta

recipe from Amy Cotler of the Locavore Way (fabulous blog and book of the same title)

The Goods:

-2 1/2c. 3/4 to 1-inch cubes of heirloom tomatoes

-1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt

-20 mint leaves, approx.

-1 small scallion, green and white, sliced

-1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice or 1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

-1 1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

-4 c. 3/4 to 1-inch cubes of watermelon, seeded

-1/3 c. crumbled feta

The Deal:

-Place a colander over a bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss with the salt. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

-Stack and tightly curl the mint leaves then slice thinly. Add to a small bowl along with the scallion, lemon juice, and olive oil.

-Toss the tomatoes with the watermelon. Then add and toss in the scallion-mint dressing. Pour off any excess liquid. Taste, adding additional slat if you like, remembering that the feta is already salty.

-Pile the salad on a platter or individual plates, sprinkled with feta cheese.

Fruta Picata (Chopped fruit with chile and lime)

Served far and wide at market and roadside stands all over Mexico, this refreshing snack can be served up with just about any fruit you can think of. It’s essentially just chopped up fruit (cucumbers and tomatoes would work well, too), sprinkled with lime juice and the spice blend I’ve provided below. During one of my last photo shoots at the home of Lark Craft’s creative director Chris Bryant, we munched on watermelon hunks dipped into Chris’s homemade spice blend. I was an instant addict (this was the prelude to my aforementioned bender), and have tried to recreate Chris’s powdery prowess here. The portion listed is for one serving.

The Goods:

-1 c. watermelon chunks, seeded

-Juice from 1/4 of a lime

-1 tsp. chile seasoning: Blend 4 Tbsp. chipotle powder, 4 Tbsp. ancho chili powder, 4 Tbsp. smoked sweet paprika, 2 Tbsp. sea salt, 1 Tbsp. powdered celery powder, and 1 Tbsp. cumin together in a spice grinder, food processor, or with a mortar and pestle until finely powdered. We used whole chipotle and ancho chiles, grinding them first in the spice grinder and then adding the other ingredients along the way. This makes about 3/4 c. of spice blend, so you’ll have plenty left over for future uses!

The Deal:

-Place watermelon on a plate.

-Squeeze fresh lime juice over top.

-Sprinkle with chile seasoning.

-Gobble up to your delight!

What about you? What’s your most beloved means of watermelon feasting? I’d love to learn! –ashley

  1. sydney says:

    lime and chilispice on watermelon? i like it!

  2. I remember buying a container of cubed watermelon at the deli, which my kids and I ate within 5 minutes of getting home…it really is a treat! Did you ever try cubing it, freezing it, and adding it to drinks like fruity ice-cubes??

  3. Brenna says:

    I have eaten eleven whole watermelons this year. Huge ones. By myself. This is the summer of the watermelon.

  4. sara s. says:

    i love love love watermelon & will definitely have to try these out!! thanks for sharing!

  5. Meg says:

    I am 6 months pregnant and can absolutely confirm the watermelon craving theory. I can also add that my mom, when preg with my oldest brother in the 60s said that she practically survived on watermelon. Thanks for the lovely posting. Can’t wait to try the recipes ;)

  6. margie says:

    I love fruit with chile y limón, especially watermelon (good, crispy apples are also fantastic). Unless I have an absolutely perfect watermelon, it’s the only way I eat it anymore.

  7. Sarah-Rose says:

    Watermelon with lime and chilli will always remind me of high school in LA! And now I’m homesick, but in a good way. This is one of the most popular street foods in LA, I remember from about April or May onwards to September, there are hundreds of fruit vendors all over the place offering delicious fresh fruit with that spice combo. I’m a big fan of mango served that way too!

  8. Those purple watermelons are gorgeous! When I was pregnant, I loved watermelon (actually, canteloupe and pineapple, too) with lime juice and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Incredible.

    In LA, you can buy cut fruit with lime juice, cayenne pepper (and even salt) for $3 from a fruit cart on the corner. So good.

  9. elecramyers says:

    I’m not a big fan of waterlmelon, but that’s just me being crazy I guess :P

    I’d like to note that Cubed fruit would be “Fruta picada” in spanish, “picata” sounds more like italian I suppose =) Thanks for the awesome posts!

  10. Allie says:

    My four month pregnant belly now REQUIRES watermelon, lime and spice – i am headed to the store as soon as I am done with work today!! Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. Shones says:

    I love sweet spicy things, like the Ancient Treasures (dark chocolate dusted with cayenne pepper) served at Chocolate Fetish in Asheville, NC, and pineapple with habanaros (sp?) pepper. The watermelon with spice sounds fantastic!

  12. RidgewoodMom says:

    All the pregnancy books I read never ever once mentioned craving watermelon (maybe I didn’t read very carefully), but I was addicted to the stuff. I thought it was just me reminding me of childhood or something. Even now (no longer pregnant), I buy cubed watermelon eat it in 3 minutes, and wonder what happened to the huge bowl. Always reminds me of summer. And watermelon in winter = weird and gross. Never to be done!!

  13. christina says:

    thanks for posting. i’m reading this as i eat watermelon. i kid you not. i’m 37 weeks pregnant and i’ve been eating it all along my pregnancy (i think i must go through at least 2 melons a week!!)…

  14. Elle Ross says:

    Too Funny!!! I’m sitting here shoving watermelon in my face, doing my weekly blog-reading- at 24 weeks!
    Love the rad purple melons!

  15. I love those watermelon recipes. I’ve never done anything with watermelon other than eat it straight-up, but clearly I’m missing out. :)

  16. marley says:

    Molly at The Traveler’s Lunchbox blog has a great watermelon recipe: chunks of melon, lime juice, simple syrup and chopped fresh mint. It’s so refreshing. Visit her site for specifics of the recipe.

  17. I’ve been on a watermelon bender, and I’m not even preggo! I made a delicious watermelon lemonade from Pastry Queen – I added vodka, but you could always skip that part {for now}!

    http://www.20somethingcupcakes.com/2010/08/watermelon-vodka-lemonade/

  18. rebecca says:

    i thought i was the only one who could finish off an entire watermelon in one sitting when i was preggers. good to know i am not alone.

  19. KimRose says:

    I had a primitive craving for watermelon while six months pregnant. I didn’t know lots of pregnant women craved it till now. I just remember being in Arizona, too hot to even walk out to get the mail. I ate an entire mini watermelon, then, sufficiently cooled, ran to the store to get another, which I devoured at the counter b/c I couldn’t waste time walking to the table to eat it properly. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has ever tasted so good. Ever.

  20. Michelin says:

    How interesting! And to think that in Chinese culture watermelons are a no-no for pregnant women as it’s believed to be ‘too cold’ and can trigger a miscarriage.

  21. max says:

    I love watermelons, they are great both in sweet and savoury dishes. I tried to grow some watermelons myself, but I finished up with only one tiny melon the size of small apple…

  22. sally says:

    pretty much every day throughout the summer i eat watermelon salad. it’s so easy: arugula, watermelon, feta, some splashes of white balsalmic vinegar, cashews and ground pepper on top! YUM!

  23. Funny, I’m 6 1/2 months pregnant, too. Ever since I’ve been pregnant, I feel like I can’t eat too much fruit…and especially the really juicy kids of fruit like berries, peaches, and melon! I also had Agua fresca for the first tie this summer and LOVE it. I like mine with extra lime juice, though… I’ll have to try that watermelon salad.

  24. laura says:

    watermelon with cinnamon sprinkled on top..i was skeptical at first, but it’s delicious!!

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