Ellen Clifford
Updated Aug 27, 2015 @ 6:55 am

Summer’s almost gone, but there’s still enough time to pack in all the funnel cake, corn on the cob and watermelon to ferry you through the year. And speaking of watermelon, why not get creative and really give this amazing fruit a last hurrah?

Allow me to present to you: Living the Mediterranean Diet: Proven Principles and Modern Recipes for Staying Healthy by Nick Nigro and Bay Ewald with Rea Frey. I found a refreshing recipe in here that involves two awesome summery foods: watermelon and gazpacho.

But let’s back up for a minute and talk about this book. Mediterranean dining came naturally to the authors. Nigro’s family was Italian-American so it was in his blood. And Ewald’s family grew up on a farm, so their focus on fresh, un-processed, plant-based foods was already a way of life.

The books delves into the specifics of how much we should be consuming of what food, but to summarize, the focus is on organic produce, whole grains and healthy fats. They will help you understand the difference between saturated and unsaturated, lest you be misguided. The plan also includes beans, eggs, some meat and fish and yes, a 4 oz. serving of wine each day! I can embrace that.

I like that this is more a lifestyle than a diet. It doesn’t endorse crossfit and protein shakes. It is instead a life that embraces enjoyment. Pleasure is to be found in nature, health in eating naturally. I may be off-base on this, but I like to imagine living the Mediterranean life would include grape picking and gardening as cardio.

In terms of what areas of the world they mean when they say “mediterranean”, think Italy, Greece, Spain, and Morocco. The authors stress that is not just the types of food you eat that make you healthy. It is your lifestyle that plays a role in good health. More and more evidence points to the stress put on your system by, well, being stressed. In addition, sitting still too much is no good. So in short, natural foods in moderation, movement and less stress make up this so-called “diet.” Sounds okay by me. I mean, ideally this plan would have a daily dose of chocolate too, but I guess you can’t have everything.

As summer wraps up, let’s pretend we are still on vacation. After all, vacation is the antidote to stress and according to this book we need to relax. Imagine vacationing abroad. Perhaps roaming a vineyard in Italy, or an olive field (Do olives grow in fields? Orchards? I don’t know the terminology.) and taking in a small but healthy doses of the Mediterranean sun. For the vitamin D of course. Ahhhhhh. Now let’s have some gazpacho! This is not the typical tomato-centric brew. We are making a light, summery gazpacho featuring watermelon. It’s so good, and even better, it is good for you.

Watermelon Gazpacho adapted from Living the Mediterranean Diet by Nick Nigro and Bay Ewald with Rea Frey

  • 5 cups roughly chopped watermelon, plus one cup chopped and some small triangles to garnish
  • 2 medium hothouse cucumbers (I used whatever sort of cucumber I got in my organic delivery)
  • 1 cup whole baby heirloom tomatoes (I had some organic cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 celery stocks, roughly chopped plus 1/2 cup finely chopped to garnish
  • 7 mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded
  • juice of 1 lime
  • a pinch cayenne
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (I left it out because I love the taste but I hate the breath it gives me)
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary plus some sprigs to garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • sea salt
  • black pepper (please freshly grind it!)

Put the 5 cups of watermelon, 2 cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, mint, ginger and jalapeño in a food processor and pulse until smooth. OR do what I did: put them in a deep bowl and use an immersion blender. Pulse in lime juice, cayenne, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Put in a bowl and put it in the refrigerator to chill a bit, if you like. When ready to serve, put it in bowls and sprinkle with the chopped watermelon, cucumber, celery, red onion, rosemary and parsley. Lastly garnish each a sprig of rosemary and a watermelon triangle.

(Images via iStock, the author)