Living in South Georgia has plenty of perks. There’s the beaches and the Bulldogs, of course. But another major plus — the watermelon down here is some of the best — ever.

I’ve lived in Georgia all of my life, and the melons from here just hit differently. They’re so sweet and refreshing in this summer heat — I’ve gone through too many to count.

With such an abundance of delicious watermelons down here in the Golden Isles, I put together a meal that’ll satisfy all of the melon lovers.

My go-to way to eat watermelon is straight off the rind, but this fruit is way more versatile than it seems.

Watermelons are about 92 percent water and are loaded with vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. It might as well be considered a super fruit with all the extra benefits it gives us.

The best part about watermelons though — they’re fat-free.

And talk about versatile — I found a delicious boozy poolside treat, grilled watermelon steaks with a salad and a vegan watermelon gelato.

I cooked this for my best friend this weekend, who loves watermelon as much as I do, and well, there were minimal leftovers.

I’m not usually the greatest at grilling, but I must say, I crushed it.

The boozy watermelon slices make for a great treat by the pool. However, be aware, they can get dangerous. Pace yourself when by the pool and enjoying those sweet treats.

But, the best part of the dish had to be the watermelon steaks on the grill. I didn’t realize you could add so many seasoning to fruit and taste like an actual steak. After making this delicious meal, I have a lot more respect for those who choose to go vegan.

I also chose to provide a simple dessert recipe that anyone can make with the leftover melon slices from dinner — not the grilled ones, but the extra watermelon you didn’t slice up.

The gelato wasn’t too sweet, so I opted to add the sweetener, but if you’re one that likes things extra sweet, add it in there. I love the natural taste of watermelon, and the banana flavor is quite subtle.

When making that gelato, freeze those watermelon slices. Also, remember, don’t add any more water to the puree once you make it (as mentioned, watermelons are mostly water). If you pick one ripe enough, you’ll have plenty of moisture in there.

Also, it can get watery if you let it freeze for more than a few hours. After initially eating it, the next day, it was a little more watery, so I added a few extra fresh watermelon slices and enjoyed it that way.

This three-part watermelon explosion will have the biggest melon lovers drooling and those who may not like the fruit as much, I bet these recipes will give a different perspective on this classic summer treat.

Watermelon Steaks & Herb salad


4 servings

8 2-inch thick watermelon wedges

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Flaky sea salt

Arugula herb salad

3 cups baby arugula

3 cups of spring salad mix

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Juice out of one lemon

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese


• Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Brush both sides of the watermelon wedges with the olive oil.

• In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, black pepper, chile powder, cumin and coriander. Season each watermelon wedge with the spice mix.

• Grill each watermelon wedge until char marks appear, flipping once, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and season with the flaky salt.

• In a large bowl, toss together the arugula and salad. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the dressing and the goat cheese with the greens.

Boozy Watermelon slices


1 baby seedless watermelon

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup boiling water

3 limes

1/2 cup tequila (I used Casamigos Tequila de Agave)

1/4 cup triple sec

Margarita salt


• Slice watermelon into small triangles. Then arrange the slices on a large cookie sheet in a single layer.

• In a medium size bowl add the sugar and boiling water. Stir until sugar has dissolved and let cool. Then add lime juice from two of your limes. Stir in the tequila and triple sec.

• Spoon mixture over each watermelon slice and then pour on what’s left.

• Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, no longer than that. Soaking that long results in the best flavor. If you want a stronger tequila taste, add more. Serve slices cold on a platter with lime slices and a dish of margarita salt.

Watermelon Gelato


5 cups frozen cubed watermelon

1 cup sliced overripe banana (frozen or room temp.)


1/2 - 1tbsp coconut nectar or cassava syrup


• Add watermelon and banana to a food processor or blender, whichever you prefer. Pulse to first mince the frozen fruit and once in slivers or small pieces, switch to puree.

• Puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down food processor once or twice. Taste, and if you’d like a little sweeter, add the sweetener to taste. The sweetener is optional.

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Jones Hooks, executive director of Jekyll Island Authority, received recognition for his many year of service to to the Georgia Economic Development Association when he was recently named an Honorary Life Member.