With the heat that inevitably accompanies July, anyone with an overwhelmingly sweet tooth that is attempting to maintain a healthy lifestyle will turn towards the juicy and delicious fruit our country enjoys during the summer season. Look into any Maltese family’s fridge and you will probably find an abundance of watermelon, apricots and melon to keep a healthy family’s sugary cravings satisfied throughout the warm months. However, many fail to realise that their function, while surely an amicable one for most of us, far exceeds that of being a guilt-free refreshing treat; these common summer fruits actually have some great unconventional uses.
With its vibrant red and green striped colours, the watermelon is surely a poster child for the typical summer fruit. The only unique thing about this fruit in Malta seems to be the creative way people find to secretly spit out the annoying black seeds in an attempt to avoid the shame of someone noticing their vulgar behaviour; other than that, everyone seems to use or eat it in the same way. In reality, being inventive with watermelon is as easy as ABC. Here are some ideas:
Watermelon Feta Skewers: surprise your guests with this lovely, simple yet delightful treat. All you need is some cubes of feta cheese, cubes of watermelon, a few leaves of fresh mint and some balsamic vinegar. Assembling the skewers by placing a cube of watermelon and feta cheese with a leaf of mint wedged in between and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar all over is something you can finish in just 15 minutes. The unlikely fusion of this sweet and savoury dish will definitely leave your visitors wanting more.
Body Scrub: The amount of Vitamin A found within watermelons means that it serves as a tool for reducing the size of your pores; watermelon also contains a great amount of exfoliating-acid and a number of moisturising properties which helps to prevent acne. For a body glowing effect, take the pulp of half a watermelon, crush it in a blender with some sugar, add lemon juice and store in an airtight container. Rub mixture on your skin for gentle exfoliation prior to a bath or shower to soothe and relieve tired skin.
The phrase ‘tiny but mighty’ is a very appropriate term to use in a discussion where apricots are involved. This little fruit which contains just 17 kcal a pop is rich in anti-oxidants and therefore naturally protects you from the sun. It is not just beneficial for weight-loss, but it also treats anaemia and benefits the heart.
Cheese and Apricot Bruschetta Toasty: starting off your day with a nutritious fruit is a great idea. Starting it off with warm toast and melted cheese sounds even better. What if I told you that a combination of both is not only possible but mouth-wateringly delicious? You will need a tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, salt and pepper, 2 apricots roughly chopped, some minced garlic and a handful of basil leaves. Mix ingredients together and place on a bed of toast, add in some of your favourite cheese (cheddar is recommended) and place in your sandwich maker. Boy are you in for a treat!
Facemask: A facemask made with apricots and other ingredients will not only soften and moisturise your skin thanks to the high Vitamin C content, but will also prevent premature signs of aging, calm dry and itching skin, as well as keep your skin hydrated. Ingredients you will need: 4-5 apricots, 3 tablespoons of Greek yogurt, 6-8 mint leaves and 1 tablespoon of honey. Just boil the apricot for one minute, remove skin and kernel and blend with other ingredients. Apply to your face with your hands and leave on for about 20 minutes; wash it off with a face cloth and follow up with your favourite moisturiser for a glowing effect.
The Cantaloupe/ Melon
This year was very rough due to the heat which refused to leave the country for its usual 4 month vacation between January and April; for many it caused great distress but we managed to find a reason to rejoice. As melons are a type of fruit that need a warm temperature to grow and ripen, the melons we will be eating this summer will be sweeter and tastier, making one of our favourite guilt-free summer treats even more delectable.
Cantaloupe Prosciutto Plate: Take your taste buds on an adventure this summer with a quick and tasty dish which will take you a maximum of ten minutes to prepare. You will need 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon chopped raisins, 2 tablespoons honey, shopped melon pieces and a few slices of prosciutto. Combine oils and spices and drizzle over melon and prosciutto mix; top with fresh mint for an added tang to your salad. The time and skill it takes to prepare this salad makes it the perfect treat to take with you to the beach or to enjoy after a long day at work.
Hair Mask: It is no secret that in summer your hair is exposed to elements which will dry it out and damage it more than usual, so it is imperative that you take extra care to ensure that your hair is being properly taken care of throughout the summer. An unlikely ingredient that can be a game changer for your summer hair care routine is indeed the melon, due to the crazy amount of vitamins and minerals that help to keep your hair hydrated and vitalised. Take ¼ of a cup melon, one medium avocado, 2 t tablespoons plain yoghurt, and 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Blend until you achieve a smooth mixture, apply to your hair and cover with a shower cap. Leave on for 30 minutes, rinse with lukewarm water and follow up with mild shampoo and conditioner; your hair will thank you for it.