STRASBURG, Colo. — Did you know that orange produce items protect your eyes? Orange-colored fruits and vegetables are rich in beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A when consumed. Vitamin A helps protect eyes. One cup of cantaloupe provides 120 percent of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A.
When eaten, foods rich in Vitamin A become part of a protein known as Rhodopsin. This protein converts light into a signal that is sent to the brain to create an image, which allows people to see in dim light or at night. It also helps the eyes adjust to darkness, which is the reason Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness. This ailment makes it extremely challenging for drivers to see at night. Vitamin A strengthens eyesight by nourishing the corneas and helping prevent xerophthalmia or dry eyes.
The Burpee Seed Company introduced cantaloupe in the 1880s, and Colorado has grown them since. Although cantaloupe is grown all over the state, the majority are grown in the Rocky Ford region (about an hour southeast of Pueblo). This area has been coined the “sweet melon capital of the world,” because it grows cantaloupe as well as watermelon.
Now is a great time to prepare recipes using cantaloupe, as this locally-grown fruit is in season right now. They taste great just cut up. Colorado cantaloupe also make great sorbets. Use the recipe below or create your own sorbet.
½ medium cantaloupe (approximately 2 cups)
½ tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1/8 cup fresh, organic mint
pinch of course sea salt
fresh mint for garnish (optional)
- Thoroughly wash and dry (if possible use a fruit and vegetable wash) the cantaloupe rind before cutting it.
- Cut and dice cantaloupe. This article does a good job of explaining the necessary steps to cut a cantaloupe http://www.onceuponachef.com/
- Place diced cantaloupe onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place in freezer. Freeze for a few hours to overnight.
- Place frozen cantaloupe, lime juice, maple syrup and mint and sea salt into a food processor. Blend until it has a sorbet or ice-cream-like texture.
- Optional: Top with a sprig of fresh mint.
- Serve immediately.
For additional recipe ideas and nutritional information, check out An Ounce of Nutrition’s blog at https://anounceofnutrition.
To help Colorado consumers understand the Colorado produce season, CFVGA has published a Colorado Produce Calendar, available to the public at https://coloradoproduce.org/
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— Cathy Schmelter, R.D., Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association
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