To Your Health | Savor your summer with fruit salad

To Your Health | Savor your summer with fruit salad

What fruit says summer more than a juicy, sweet slice of melon? Typically in season between June and September, melon varieties like cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon tend to taste best (and cost less!) during summer months.

July's featured recipe includes cantaloupe and a variety of other delicious summer fruits. The flavors stand out when combined with homemade dressing, made by blending poppy-seed dressing, orange juice and dried mint.

Choosing Melons: Choose cantaloupes that are heavy for their size, sweet smelling and without cuts or bruises. They should be yellowish or cream in color. For honeydew, look for melons with a waxy surface and heavy for their size. Watermelons should feel heavy for their size and without punctures or cuts, with dry stems.

Storing Melons: Store whole and uncut melons at room temperature for up to one week. Once cut, melon must be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for three to five days. If cut melon is at room temperature for more than two hours, throw it out.

Preparing Melons: Wash melons thoroughly before cutting and scrub with a produce brush. This is due to the potential for bacteria and germs on outside rind that could transfer to the edible portion when cut. Make sure to start with clean hands, too, by washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.

Melon Nutrition: Melons are high in vitamin C, fat free and very low in sodium.

This fruit salad is a great dessert or side dish featuring sweet summer flavors. Make it your own by trying different fruits or fruit juices depending on what is on sale at the store or in your kitchen at home.

MELON-BERRY-BANANA FRUIT SALAD

Servings: 4.

1/2 cantaloupe, cut into cubes or balls

1 banana, sliced

1 cup strawberries, sliced

2 kiwi, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup low-fat poppy seed dressing

2 tablespoons 100 percent orange juice

1/4 teaspoon dried mint (optional)

Combine prepared fruits together in a large bowl.

Blend salad dressing with fruit juice and mint in small dish with a fork or wire whisk.

Add dressing to bowl of fruit. Stir gently.

Serve immediately or store in refrigerator.

Find more recipes from University of Illinois Extension at "EAT.MOVE.SAVE.: Making Healthier Choices on a Budget" at go.Illinois.edu/EatMoveSaveRecipes.

Beth Peralta is a registered dietitian and media communications specialist for University of Illinois Extension, and a spokeswoman for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Contact her at 217-244-7405 or cavaller@illinois.edu.

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