Watermelon more than rabbit food – the Royal Gazette

Who knew rabbits would help kids eat healthier? Despite their names (Sugar Bubble and Oreo Pop… .yes, really), the kids found it fascinating to research and experience what rabbits can eat.

At this age, their main diet is alfalfa hay (er … rabbits, not kids) with a pinch of rabbit pellets and a big handful of leafy greens. In addition to that, they also had other vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower) and a little fruit every now and then.

The fruit is fun because the rabbits literally go around in circles with excitement, but that was also a brilliant lesson. We can’t give them too much fruit because it’s not good for them, just like we can’t have too much sugar because it’s not good for us.

The girls know it’s their job to take care of the rabbits, so they won’t give them too much fruit although it’s fun, which makes it easier to explain my role as the sugar police at home.

Yet when I was growing up my rabbits had a totally boring diet of hay, lettuce, and sometimes carrots. On the other hand, these two get apples, blueberries, and raspberries and they’re more excited about watermelon.

Every time someone sits on the mat with the rabbits and a wedge of watermelon, there is mass confusion. It’s a bit like survival of the fittest and in this case the fastest are the winners. I don’t know who’s more competitive, the rabbits or the kids. It’s super cute, although a little messy, but we’re used to messy now. (If you were reading last week, then yes, the house is still covered in glitter. Rabbits too. They are now a special breed of Disco Bunny, ha.)

Anyway, researching watermelon for rabbits (just a little, don’t go crazy), was a good reminder of its nutritional value in general.

Watermelon is high in something called lycopene, a strong antioxidant overall, but especially helpful for prostate health. We’re told tomatoes are high in lycopene (and they are), but the lycopene in watermelon is much more bioavailable. To really enjoy the tomatoes, the tomatoes have to be cooked, which is more restrictive.

Watermelon is also rich in vitamins C, B5, A, B1 and B6 and in biotin, so its benefits are varied. It’s also varied in terms of use – try it on green leaves, with avocado and a balsamic reduction for a super chic salad; grill it on the barbecue for an interesting side or freeze it in quarters for a refreshing frozen treat. (See Facebook and Instagram for this one; it’s so easy!)

I loved the watermelon juice and the smoothies this summer. The flavor is amazing, especially with a lime zest to complement it. The recipe I gave you below also adds strawberries and the combination is delicious. The flavors are all really chewy and the lime adds a nice heat. So refreshing when the weather is hot.

For the best flavor, make sure you choose a watermelon that is ripe, but not overripe. If you are buying cut watermelon, look for something deep in color without any white lines running through it.

If you’re buying a whole watermelon, look for one with a “field spot” – a flatter cream-colored area that indicates the melon has been left to sit long enough to be ripe. Pick something that feels heavy and also has a little duller skin. Shiny watermelons are likely to be less ripe. Above all, avoid anything that has a stem attached. It is certainly not ripe enough if there is a stalk.

Finally, just remember that humans should be careful with the sugars in fruit as well, but I find the best way to deal with this is to remember that it is a carbohydrate.

Growing kids and very active people can handle more carbohydrates, but if you’re sedentary enough and especially managing your weight, I would treat fruit as the carbohydrate portion of your meal rather than a supplement.

So instead of having chicken, potatoes, greens, and fruit, you would skip the potatoes.

If you eat protein and vegetables or salad as a meal, stock up on vegetables to keep you feeling full. If this is new to you, gradually increase the amount you eat and note that steamed vegetables are easier to digest than salad. No baby!

Watermelon, strawberry and lime smoothie

Ingredients (per person)

1.5 cups of watermelon

1 cup of frozen strawberries

½ frozen banana

½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or other milk)

½ lime, juice (can add more)

1 heaped teaspoon of cashews or almond butter

1 tablespoon of collagen powder or 1 heaped teaspoon of chia seeds

Method

Put everything in the blender. Add more lime for more heat. Add more milk if it is not liquid enough. Enjoy!

Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For more details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda

Rabbits, it seems, love watermelon


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Raymond I. Langston

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