August 3 is National Watermelon Day and there’s good reason to celebrate the summer favourite.

Low in Sugar

Despite how sweet it tastes, half a cup (125 ml) of watermelon has only 5 grams of sugar as compared to, say, an apple, which has roughly 14 grams of sugar.

High in Water

Watermelon is 92 per cent water so it’s a great hydrator — perfect on hot summer days.

Lycopene

Good for everything from eyesight to bone strength to brain health — and even studied for anti-cancer properties — lycopene is a star anti-oxidant and watermelon is loaded with it. Half a cup contains 3.6 mg — even more than a whole tomato (3.1 mg).

Watermelon is also a good source of fibre, essential minerals (calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus) and, vitamins A and C.

Tips for Picking the Perfect Watermelon

Look it over.
You are looking for a firm watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents. Scratching is ok as they go through a lot of handling on their way to your kitchen. (On the subject, always wash your watermelon before cutting into it.)

Lift it up.
Watermelon is 92% water so it should be very heavy for its size.

Turn it over.
The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.

And what about the thumping method? Growers say it’s unnecessary but if you insist, you’re listening for a dull, muffled, hollow sound — a “ping” if it’s unripe but a “pong” when a watermelon is ready.

Whether you’re having a slice or trying out one of these classic cocktail twists, here’s to watermelon!

Watermelon Moscow Mule recipe

Watermelon Moscow Mule

A new spin on the cult-fave Moscow Mule.

4 oz vodka
2 oz ginger beer
2 oz watermelon simple syrup
1 oz lime juice
2 small watermelon wedges
2 large mint sprigs

For watermelon simple syrup
½ cup watermelon juice
½ cup sugar

To make the watermelon simple syrup, combine sugar and watermelon juice in small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool, and measure out two ounces. Keep remaining watermelon simple syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Combine the vodka, simple syrup and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.

Pour vodka mixture into two ice filled mule mugs. Top each glass with 1 oz of ginger beer. Garnish with watermelon wedges and mint sprigs and enjoy!

Makes 2 cocktails.

Watermelon Cosmopolitan recipe

Watermelon Cosmopolitan

Watermelon goes uptown with this spin on the Sex and the City standard.

4 ounces watermelon juice, strained
1 cup ice
1 ounce premium vodka
1 ounce Cointreau
½ ounce grenadine syrup
1 mini skewer of a small piece of watermelon (for garnish, optional)

Place the ice, vodka, Cointreau, grenadine and watermelon juice in a shaker and shake for 30 seconds.

Strain into the glass and garnish with the skewer.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Watermelon Paloma recipe

Watermelon Paloma

Watermelon gives this traditionally Mexican cocktail a sweet and colourful punch.

3 ounces silver tequila
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 cup cubed watermelon
1 cup watermelon juice, frozen in ice cube tray (optional)
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon lime juice
Club soda
Kosher salt
Sprigs mint or basil for garnish
2 wedges watermelon for garnish (optional)

Pour a generous amount of salt on a small plate. Line the rims of two glasses with lime juice and gently dip the rims into the salt.

Combine the silver tequila, grapefruit juice, watermelon, and agave in a cocktail shaker. Use a muddler to mash the watermelon with the rest of the ingredients. Add ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.

Carefully add ice cubes of choice to the glass and, using a strainer, pour the tequila mixture over the ice. Top with club soda and garnish with mint or basil and a small watermelon wedge.

Makes 2 cocktails.

Recipes courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board. For more, visit www.watermelon.org.