One Easy Way to Prevent Childhood Obesity in your Family

child drink the fruit juice

With childhood obesity numbers soaring off the charts, many parents are more in tune with what their children are eating and drinking. French fries are being replaced with sweet potato fries and fruit cups, chicken tenders are getting the boot from their healthier grilled self, and sodas are being upgraded to real fruit juice. But, is this upgrade to juice really an upgrade at all?

Even though juice comes from fruit, it is still loaded with sugar and extra calories. Unfortunately, many parents think that this is a healthy option for their kids because of all of the vitamins and minerals juices offer. What they don’t take into consideration is that a single serving of fruit juice has far more calories from sugar than eating a piece of fruit (more than double, actually). And, while chewing an apple actually burns calories, swallowing a calorie-laden beverage like juice doesn’t give your mouth a workout.

Juice is absorbed quickly, and because it is full of liquid sugars, it creates a spike in insulin levels. If consumed in larger amounts regularly, it has the potential to cause childhood obesity and diabetes. Additionally, it lacks the filling fiber that a piece of fruit offers. So even after having consumed 180 calories of juice, your child will probably be hungry again fairly quickly.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics currently allows for a limited amount of juice (4-6 ounces per day for infants >6 months and 6 ounces twice daily for children) in a child’s daily diet, the recommendation to cut it out altogether may be on the horizon. So while skipping the daily candy bar and soda is a must, limiting the amount of juice your child drinks may be equally important in ensuring their health and preventing childhood obesity.

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Gluten Free…Fad, Fable, or For Real!

Gluten Free Diets are becoming the norm for many Americans. If you want the skinny on who really needs this type of diet and how healthy it truly is for the general public…check out one of my latest articles for Hamilton County Family Magazine.

Gluten Free Diets: Who Needs These Restrictions and Who Doesn’t? 

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Watermelon Juice…Sipping on Tsamma!!!!!

Watermelon tends to be a summertime favorite. Slice it, dice it, cut it into chunks, drizzle it with honey, squirt it with lime juice, sprinkle it with mint…DELICIOUS! Not only is watermelon delicious, it’s a great treat alternative to popsicles, ice cream, and other sugary summertime snacks for your little ones. While I’ve tried just about every recipe with watermelon that you can imagine…I’ve never tried to make watermelon juice; and, now I don’t have to!0079

My watermelon growing friends at Frey Farms have created a new drink that is taking the juice market by storm! TSAMMA Watermelon Juice! While water and milk are my toddler’s main beverages, juice is an occasional treat. Instead of apple juice try this fun alternative. You can also use it to make your own homemade watermelon popsicles!!! Pour it into the molds, stick in the freezer…fun summertime treat! Or, if you’re a traditionalist, a watermelon slice is pretty delicious too! We like to think they grow in our backyard!!!photo 5 photo 1 photo 1

TSAMMA and Frey Farms didn’t ask me to give them a shout out…I just think they’re pretty awesome people with some great products! Available at Earth Fare, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and a ton of other local grocery stores. My little one likes to pick her own! For tips on how to pick the perfect watermelon check out this earlier blog…HOW TO PICK YOUR WATERMELONphoto 4 photo 1

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Hazelnut S’mores…in the oven!!!!

A little sweet treat never hurt..especially not when it’s S’mores!!!! Don’t feel like starting a camp fire, firing up the grill, or even leaving the kitchen? Indoor S’mores it is!!! You can stick with the traditional Hershey Chocolate bar, but if you’re looking for a gourmet twist try switching things up with Nutella. Get your little ones involved. They can line up the crackers and pile on the marshmallows.photo 2

Hazelnut S’more Ingredients: 

1. graham crackers

2. Marshmallows

3. 1 jar of Nutella Hazelnut/Chocolate Spread

4. Cookie Sheet

5. Ovenphoto 1 photo 2 photo 4

How to Roast your S’mores in the oven: 

1. Break your graham crackers in half and place them on a cookie sheet

2. Place a marshmallow on half of the graham crackers

3. On the remaining Graham crackers spread a thick layer of Nutella

4. Place the cookie sheet in the oven on broil

5. Keep a very close eye on these goodies. They can burn in just a second. When you notice that the marshmallows are starting to turn a light brown on the top (literally less than 30 seconds) pull them from the oven and put your halves together!!!photo 1

Come rain or shine these indoor S’mores are tasty every time!

 

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Healthy Home-Cooked Meatloaf…comfort food made better

I’m not usually a huge fan of meatloaf, but I like to vary things up in the kitchen. My husband is quite the carnivore so a chunk of meat always gets him excited. While meatloaf is usually loaded with a high fat content, I’m going to introduce you to the Eating for Life: Cookbook version. This turkey meatloaf recipe is quick to throw together, but it does need an hour to bake.

Healthy Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey (make sure that you choose LEAN. So either 97/3, 95/5, or 93/7 Lean to fat ratios with 97/3 being the leanest. Otherwise, your turkey may be just as fattening as ground hamburger. 
1 medium onion, chopped
4 egg whites
1 cup salsa (I prefer Pace salsa)
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 pkg Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup ketchup

How to Make a Good Old-Fashioned Meatloaf…just a little better:

Preheat your oven to 350°FIn a large bowl combine your ground turkey, chopped onion, egg whites, salsa, oats, soup mix and black pepper. Press this mixture into a 9 x 5 loaf pan and spread your ketchup over the top. Throw this in your oven and bake until the meatloaf is no longer pink in the center and there is clear juice.  This will be approximately 60 minutes, but make sure to check. Nothing is worse than raw meatloaf…especially when you’re using turkey! Once it is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before you slice it. Pair this with steamed green beans and a baked sweet potato. Yummy comfort food never tasted so good!
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7 Pregnant Momma Safety Tips You Need to Know

Being pregnant doesn’t mean that you have to be paranoid (well, maybe just a little), but it does mean that there are certain “DO’s” and “DON’Ts” to keep you and your unborn baby safe. A pregnant woman is more likely to pick up certain food born infections, come down with viral illnesses such as colds, lose her balance, and have trouble fastening her seat belt. While the 7 safety tips I’m sharing aren’t meant to be all-inclusive safety advice during pregnancy; they are a good place to start! And, since many of you currently have “pregnancy brain,” I’ve decided to make things easy by including some great resources in the highlighted links. Click on these for more details.

1. Wear Your Seatbelt During Your ENTIRE PregnancyPregnant woman in the car

Many pregnant women think that they will hurt their baby by wearing their seatbelt. This is not the case. Research shows that not wearing a seatbelt puts your baby and you at much greater risk for harm if you were to get into a car accident. Wearing your seatbelt CORRECTLY is also important. It should be secured low and comfortably tight around your waist underneath your baby bump/across your hip bones. Do not shove the shoulder strap behind you! The top portion of the shoulder strap should come across your collar-bone. Make sure to wear it when driving, as the passenger, and when in the backseat! Air bags should NOT be turned off. They are still considered safe for pregnant women. Check out this link from The American Academy of Family Practice for more details.

2. Eat Safe Foods and Avoid Those on “The List”

Eating a healthy diet is an important part of pregnancy. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of protein will reduce your risk for diabetes, and will ensure that your baby and you are getting adequate nutrients for growth and development. But, some foods that may seem healthy are on the “DO NOT EAT” list during pregnancy. Mercury levels in certain types of healthy fish can be harmful to your developing baby. Unpasteurized products, including dairy and fruit juices, could contain harmful bacteria that could land you on the toilet or even in the hospital. Eating raw or undercooked meats or even unwashed fruits and vegetables could also lead to toxoplasmosis, a harmful infection for your unborn baby! Don’t despair! Sushi, homemade ice cream, and raw cookie dough may be off the table for now; but, you still have plenty of options for your grocery cart. Check out this link for more information and for a list of safe and unsafe foods during pregnancy.Diet in pregnancy

3. Get Your Flu Shot

Yes, I said get your flu shot (if possible before you get pregnant, but it is safe to get it during pregnancy as well)!!!! Pregnant women are at greater risk for picking up viral infections during pregnancy…especially the flu. During pregnancy, your body does not mount a typical immune response. Because of this, if you do get sick with the flu, you are more likely to have a severe case that could affect your heart and lungs and even your unborn baby. Research shows that getting the flu while pregnant seems to increase the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight babies, and preterm deliveries. By getting your flu shot you are also providing some protection for your baby for the first six months of his life after he is born (the time when he is unable to get the flu shot and left vulnerable) by passing on antibodies to him while he is still in your womb. For more on flu shot recommendations check out these links from The Mayo Clinic and the CDC.

4. Check with your doctor before taking over the counter medications, prescription medications, and herbal supplements.

Although many “safe during pregnancy” medication lists are posted on the internet, it is always best to check with your doctor before taking any over the counter, prescription, or even herbal medications or supplements. While some of these may be safe for you (and necessary), they may not be safe for your unborn baby. Check out these links from the CDC and the March of Dimes for more information. And, of course, avoiding alcohol, recreational drugs, and tobacco during pregnancy is always recommended!young pregnant woman sitting on the window

5. Avoid Cat Litter Like It’s the Plague!

Get someone else to do the dirty job of changing the cat litter! If you have a cat and are the only one able to change the litter, then make sure that you take safety precautions. Cat litter is known to harbor Toxoplasmosis, a bacteria that can be debilitating for your unborn child causing blindness and even mental disabilities. You may not even be aware that you or your unborn baby have been infected because often times you won’t have any symptoms. Make sure to wear disposable gloves and to wash your hands with soap and water each time after changing the litter. Also, make sure to change it daily. For more details check out this link from The CDC. In addition to cat litter, many women are exposed to unsafe chemicals while at work. Check with your physician if your job includes any type of chemical exposure.

6. Add a Little Stability to your WobblePregnant woman doing yoga exercise

The pregnant woman wobble gets a little more wobbly as your belly grows. Make sure that you are taking precautions to prevent slipping, falling, and tripping. Wearing a supportive pair of shoes is the first step. Making sure that you are paying attention when walking to avoid uneven pavement or toddler toys, using the hand-rail when climbing stairs, keeping a bath mat outside of the tub and shower, and letting someone else stand on the step stool and ladder are some simple ways to keep your balance. Joining a prenatal yoga class may also be helpful to promote flexibility, stability, and body awareness.

7. Make Sure that Your Home is a Safe Place! 

Although the though of abuse during pregnancy may sound shocking and unlikely, almost 1 in 6 pregnant women have been abused by their partners. Financial stress, unwanted pregnancies, and jealousy are just a few reasons that abuse may increase during pregnancy. Making sure that you and your unborn baby are free from physical and emotional abuse is vital for a healthy pregnancy. Check out this link from The March of Dimes for more information and for resources.

A healthy pregnancy depends upon taking care of yourself. Making a prenatal appointment early in pregnancy, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, taking prenatal vitamins, and surrounding yourself with those who will love and support you are all critical steps. Some things are out of your control (says the mom with severe preeclampsia and a 32 week preemie), but by doing your best to follow the above safety recommendations you will limit your risk for many preventable pregnancy complications and regrets.

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Is Salmonella in Your Peanut Butter Jar…3 things you need to know about the recent outbreak

Unfortunately for the peanut butter and almond butter lovers among us…we may have a problem! No one wants to get diarrhea, fevers, and belly cramps from their almond butter dipped banana! Here is what you need to know about the recent (August, 2014) Salmonella Outbreak linked to certain brands of peanut butter and almond butter.Woman Suffering From Stomachache On Sofa

1. What is Salmonella and what to do about it?

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause infection in the intestines, leading to diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal cramping, fever, blood in the stool, and headaches. Not pleasant. Salmonella infections usually come from “food poisoning,” or eating food that has been contaminated with Salmonella. Often times, people who are exposed to Salmonella do not get sick. Some people may not get sick until three days after they have eaten a contaminated product such as peanut butter. Usually, an infection with Salmonella only lasts for a few days to a week and doesn’t require any treatment. However, for children who are younger than five; those who are pregnant; those with weakened immune systems (for example: autoimmune diseases, undergoing chemotherapy etc); and the elderly, a salmonella infection can be more severe, leading to dehydration and other serious complications that mandate hospitalization.

If you have any of the signs or symptoms above, fit any of the high-risk groups, and have recently consumed potentially, contaminated peanut butter or almond butter…you may want to give your doctor a call…just to be on the safe side.Peanut Butter On Bread With Peanuts

2. Is my peanut butter/almond butter contaminated?

Many different brands of peanut and almond butter were contaminated. Some of the more common brands included Kroger, MaraNatha, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods 365, and Arrowhead Mills. The list continues…

First you need to check what you have in your fridge and pantry. Pull it all out so that you can look at the brand and the skew (UPC) number on the jar. Here is a hyperlink to the FDA with a full list of contaminated brands. Just because you have a brand on the contaminated list, this doesn’t mean that your peanut butter is bad. Only certain lots were contaminated. That is where the skew or UPC number comes in handy. Simply compare the skew number on your jar to those provided by the FDA.

3. If I have bad butter…what to do?

If you have a contaminated jar you need to throw it out…NOW! It doesn’t matter if someone has eaten some already and not gotten sick…still throw it away. Don’t take it back to the store. Instead, put it inside of a plastic ziplock and put it in a sealed trash container. You don’t want an animal to get to it…they can get Salmonella poisoning too! For a replacement, refund, or more information you can call this number 1-800-937-7008.

Unfortunately, food contamination happens. Spread the word and get other people digging through their pantries! Although Salmonella usually isn’t life threatening; it is miserable and could land the young, the old, and those with weak immune systems in the hospital. For more information check out this hyperlink to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

From The Mom in Me, MD

Boy Eating Peanut Butter Sandwich

Healthy Meal Ideas for Toddlers: for moms who are tired of the same old thing

Happy Toddler Boy Eating StrawberriesI love the fact that my daughter can finally feed herself, but I often have mental blocks when it comes to creating new healthy foods that are toddler friendly. I want my daughter to eat more than the same four options listed on every kids’ menu. I want to entice her palate and help her appreciate the wide variety of flavors that healthy food has to offer. Starting this process at a young age is an imperative part of  preventing her from becoming a picky eater down the road. Before we get into the healthy meal ideas, I wanted to give you a few tips on how to introduce new foods and how to prevent a picky eater.

1. KEEP INTRODUCING THE SAME THINGS OVER, and Over, and Over again (times 12) and then Over again

Toddlers are actually willing to try new things if we will let them. They may act like they don’t like something on the first try, but it can often take up to 12 or more introductions of a food for a child to truly form an opinion. And, while some foods (such as ice cream and chicken tenders) will always get the finger licking sign of approval, you may be shocked by the vast amount of healthy and diverse foods your toddler will grow to love.cute toddler with finger in mouth

2. NEVER TELL YOUR CHILD THAT HE/SHE DOESN’T LIKE A FOOD

So, instead of giving your child a taste of a new food, seeing a wrinkled nose and a tongue thrust and saying, “Oh, you don’t like that,” try telling your child what they are experiencing. For example, if they taste a lemon let them know that it is sour. If they eat a pickle let them know that it is salty. If they try a new texture, identify the texture by saying that it is crunchy or slimy for example. If you tell your child what they are experiencing rather than assuming that they don’t like it, they will be much more likely to try it again in the future.Business Concept

3. DON’T FORCE FOOD

If your child has tried something new and doesn’t want any more of it, save yourself the grief of a food war. Praise your child for at least trying the new food, and then let them know that they can try it again on another day. Forcing them to eat a new food that they haven’t yet acquired a taste for, may actually cause them to revolt and dislike the food in question. Force feeding is never a good idea…no matter what the age.

4. DON’T INTRODUCE NEW FOODS COLD TURKEY!

When introducing new foods to your toddler, make sure that you are also giving them foods that they know and like. In this way, they won’t feel like you are sabotaging their mealtime or taking away their favorites. Introducing the new food at the start of the meal when they are most hungry may also lead to a better outcome.

kid eating healthy foodNow, for the healthy meal ideas for toddlers…Instead of listing my favorite recipes I decided to direct you to some GREAT ONLINE RESOURCES for toddler recipe ideas. These websites are always coming up with new and exciting recipes for little ones. Don’t be afraid to try the ethnic foods! My daughter loves Thai, French, and Mediterranean foods. If you cook for your FAMILY with your toddler in mind, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy. It’s not a bad idea to have some back up options in the pantry, just in case your little one’s taste buds aren’t up for Thai quite yet. I always keep a supply of organic squeezies like the ones made by Ella’s Kitchen in my pantry. That way, if mealtime starts to be a battle over new foods, I have a healthy alternative. Your toddler will get there eventually; you just have to be patient. Check out these four recipe idea sources by clicking on the hyperlinks. Not only are the recipes delicious, they are healthy and fun!

1. Weelicious

2. Cooking Light for Toddlers

3. Super Healthy Kids

4. Wholesome Toddler Food

IMG_7672From The Mom in Me, MD

How To BURN Your Dinner: for all of the moms sharing my non-pinterest worthy day!

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The Culprits Up To No Good!

Motherhood is about trying, failing, and trying again. Although we all like to think of ourselves as super moms, truth is…most of our days aren’t even close to Pinterest perfection. We post our best mommy moments on Facebook, but really? Is that reality? Being a mom is hard, tiring, dirty, and sometimes downright ugly. I usually don’t post the poopy blow-out that ends up on my face, the Target mid-aisle meltdown, or the close call in the parking lot. But, today, I decided to affirm all of the moms out there by acknowledging that none of us are perfect, myself included!

How To Burn Your Dinner…

Necessary Ingredients:

1 long day

1 poopy diaper

1 mischievous toddler

1 naughty dog

1 distracted mama

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My Thrifty Find!

It all started with a silly package of sliced french bread! Since I had just posted my recipe on crostinis I decided to whip some up myself. As I was speeding past the freezer section in the grocery store with my whining toddler (yes, I broke down and bought ice cream) my eyes landed on a bag of sliced french bread with a manager’s special sticker!  25 cents! What can you buy for 25 cents these days??? Proud of my thrifty find, I tossed it in the cart and raced toward the finish line! As we approached the check out counter I remembered that I had forgotten to grab green peppers for the pizza. Back I hauled my oversized cart with the kiddy car to the opposite side of the store. I grabbed the pepper and once again headed toward the check out counter. Thankfully, the check out guy was kind enough to offer my now adamantly “DONE SHOPPING” daughter some stickers to get us through the line. I actually remembered my coupon (which never happens), and I assured Ayla that we would be home eating dinner in no time. I peeked into her red car to check on her and noticed that her favorite (okay, my favorite) hair band had fallen off of her head. Then to my frustration I realized that it hadn’t fallen off, Ayla had taken it off and intentionally launched it from the car somewhere in the store. With my cart full of bagged groceries, we began going aisle by aisle through the grocery store, with me muttering to her the whole time in as calm of a voice as I could muster, “Ayla, if you hadn’t thrown your bow we could be home by now. Why did you do that?Mommy has no clue where it might be. This is incredibly frustrating. etc. etc. etc.”

I’m sure you have all tried to maneuver the grocery carts with the cars. It’s like driving a semi on an Italian side street! I’m pretty sure that I missed everyone’s toes (if not…sorry) as I plowed ahead on my mission. Not in the produce department, not at lost and found, not in the cheese department. Frozen food was free of all accessories. Score! Cracker aisle! Hair bow found and mommy happy! I’m embarrassed (and so is Ayla) to say that I danced a jig in aisle 7.

Getting through the parking lot was a little crazy! How is it possible for every car to have their reverse lights on at the exact same time? It was like a scary version of dodge ball. We made it to the car in one piece, but as the groceries came out of the cart, Ayla was reminded of how hungry her tummy had become. Being a really bad mom, I handed her a bag of veggie straws. Not really the best option right before dinner. But, she was happy. I always take my cart back to the carousel, but today I wanted to get in the car and get home. Yes, that’s right! I’m the mom who left the cart in the middle of the only available parking spot!

photophoto 3We made it home with only a few minutes of crying. An hour behind schedule wasn’t too bad, right? I pulled out my french bread, turned on the broiler, and shoved them in the oven. In the meantime I went on to whip up a semi-homeade pasta sauce and some tortellini. My hungry munchkin wasn’t having it. Since dinner wouldn’t be ready for sometime, I pulled out carrots, a squeeze veggie pack, and some chicken for Ayla. Presto, dinner was served. After I was done washing her up, I started my pasta sauce. Things were under control until I heard the distinct splash of water. Yes, Ayla had dumped the dog’s water dish all over the hardwood floors. By the time I got to the dish, I noticed that Ayla now had two hands full of dog food and a piece of dog food stuck between her front teeth. I couldn’t help but screech!

photo 2My rotisserie chicken was sitting just a little too close to the counter edge, and while I was cleaning up his spilled water bowl, my dog decided to join in on the action. Let’s just say that he loves rotisserie chicken! He is such a lover that he doesn’t even leave any evidence…down go bones and all! It’s like a chicken rapture! With my chicken missing and my sauce now starting to overheat, I turned to find Ayla pulling at her pants. She waved her hand in front of her face to indicate that something was stinky, and I knew that she was trying to tell me that she was poopy. Why she thought she needed to take her pants and diaper off…I’m not sure. Thankfully, I was able to prevent a major poop catastrophe in the kitchen. I raced her upstairs, changed her diaper and congratulated myself on keeping my cool.

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photoAs we came to the top of the stairs I noticed the distinct smell of burning food. Burning? What could be burning? My FRENCH BAGUETTE! I had entirely forgotten about my crostinis! They were a little more than overdone. Ah, well, at least I had only used half of them. Back in the oven went a fresh set of bread slices. I set the timer this time! I searched the fridge for my fig preserves. I knew that they were in there somewhere! I couldn’t make goat cheese and fig crostinis without the figs! Recipe revision…goat cheese and mixed berry preserve crostinis tonight. With my appetizer under control, I pulled out a back up chicken from the fridge, finished dinner, and thanked heaven that daddy would be home soon!

All in all…this was a pretty good day even if it wasn’t Pinterest worthy. A few bumps on the road here and there, but what mom doesn’t have those? While none of us need a tutorial on how to burn dinner (I assume it comes pretty naturally to most moms), all of us need a reminder that although our daily lives may not be picture perfect, we are still pretty awesome moms. We love our kids and what could be more pinnable than that!

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From The Mom in Me, MD

 

 

 

5 Tips for Putting the Perfect Watermelon in Your Grocery Cart

I love watermelon! The only person in my house who loves it more is my daughter. She would eat a whole watermelon daily if I would let her. A few days ago my girlfriends and I were talking about the tricks to picking the perfect watermelon. Some said it was a crapshoot, others said that they use the thumping trick, but none of us were sure if there was a way to pick the perfect melon every time. After a little self-education, I’ve found 5 tips to make sure that the watermelon in your grocery cart is ripe, juicy, and super sweet!IMG_7667IMG_7672

1. Make sure your watermelon is free from any cuts or deformities, FIRM, and BRIGHT green.

2. Choose the most SYMMETRIC watermelon. A melon that is smaller on one end than the other may have had irregular growth and won’t be as tasty.

3. Because watermelons are 90% water, the HEAVIER your melon…the better. Choose the melon that feels heavier than its size would indicate. Extra heavy means ripe and extra juicy!

4. Look for a large YELLOW or CREAMY SPOT on the bottom of the melon. This isn’t an imperfection. It’s the underside of the melon that sat on the ground. This yellow spot tells you that the watermelon had enough time to ripen on the ground before it was picked.

5. The THUMP TEST-hoist the watermelon a couple of inches from your ear, and give it a good thump or tap. You want it to sound HOLLOW. If it sounds solid it’s not ripe, and if it sounds thick it’s over ripe. Hollow is ripe perfection!Watermelon. Woman showing whole watermelon on isolated white bac

Hope this helps you pick the best watermelon ever…every time! And, thanks to the Food Channel, Wikihow, and The New York Times for helping me on my watermelon picking self-study.

From The Mom in Me, MD