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release the summer heat with watermelon

release the summer heat with watermelon

by August 30, 2013

Summer may be ending, but, depending on your constitution, you may now be feeling the effects of excess Pitta.  We’ve all felt it on particularly hot days and even Shakespeare writes of this.  In Romeo and Juliet, just before the climactic fight between the Montagues and Capulets he lets us know that the day is hot in Verona (the setting of the play) and that in “these hot days, is the mad blood is stirring”.  Sure enough, when the two sides meet, we see all the signs of excess Pitta dosha:  irritability, aggression, and explosive tempers.

As we move into the fall, the heat of summer has now accumulated in our bodies from too many long days of outdoor activities and too much summer sun moving us from a state of balanced Pitta to one of excess.  In a state of excess Pitta we may start to feel easily irritated, argumentative, short-tempered, or even develop other signs of excess heat like skin rashes, heartburn, or indigestion. As Deepak Chopra writes, “Those with a predominance of the Pitta principle have a fiery nature that manifests in both body and mind.”

To bring excess Pitta back into balance, nature gives us good, cooling foods like watermelon.  While the typical growing season is May through September, it can start as early as April and stretch all the way to November making it perfect not only for hot days in summer and early fall but for releasing the accumulated heat of the warmer season.  Rich in vitamin A, B, and C, it’s the water content as well as electrolytes like potassium that make it so beneficial on hot days and in warmer climates.  As John Immel of Joyful Belly writes, “It fundamentally cools the body and restores balance to overheated blood.”

In addition, because of its high lycopene content (the antioxidant responsible for giving watermelon its deep red color), watermelon is highly anti-inflammatory with the power to neutralize free radicals and benefit overall health.  As George Mateljan states on his World’s Healthiest Foods website, “Alongside of tomatoes, watermelon has moved up to the front of the line in recent research studies on high-lycopene foods.”  Many of these studies suggest watermelon’s positive support for cardiovascular disease, as well as, bone health, and weight loss.

While I don’t recommend it, during the recent heat wave in China, some families had even taken to dressing their toddlers in the watermelon rinds.  Check it out on NPR.org here.  I don’t know that the kids were actually any cooler, but I’m sure the laughter helped ease the heat just a bit.

If you’re not quite feeling that desperate, another great and easy way to cool off with watermelon is with watermelon popsicles. Since watermelon is mostly water and naturally very sweet, all you need is a quick spin in the blender and some popsicle molds for an easy treat. From there, adding some fresh whole blueberries, kiwi, or chopped strawberries gives your pops a little added twist.

Check out the recipe below adapted from vegetarian.about.com.

Watermelon Popsicles

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Freeze Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 4 to 8 Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups deseeded watermelon

Optional flavorings and extras:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon food-grade rosewater

  • Fresh fruit—blueberries, diced strawberries, sliced kiwi, etc.

Preparation:

Blend the watermelon and any other flavor ingredients in a blender and pour the mixture into popsicle trays. If adding fresh fruit, place that in the mold as well and then freeze for 3 to 4 hours or until the pop is frozen solid.

Let your popsicles defrost for a few minutes before pulling them out of the mold or run the molds under warm water to loosen the frozen treats from the molds.

For Popsicle molds, we like to use Tovolo brand.  They can be found online at Amazon and in many Whole Foods Markets.  The ring pops were a big hit with our boys this summer. Check them out at Amazon.com here.

For those of you feeling even more adventurous than popsicles, check out Mark Bittman’s recent New York Times article “Watermelon All Day Long”.  In his piece he offers recipes for everything from watermelon deserts and salads to watermelon soups and daiquiris.

So before you start to feel like an irritated Montague or Capulet, cool off that accumulated summer fire with some Pitta balancing watermelon.

Sources:

  1. Category. “Watermelon Popsicle Recipe.” Vegetarian Food – Vegan Recipes – Vegetarian Cooking – Raw Food Recipes – Easy Vegetarian Recipes. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2013. <http://vegetarian.about.com/od/rawfooddessertrecipes/r/Easy-Watermelon-Popsicles.htm>.
  2. Chopra, Deepak. “Pitta Dosha | The Chopra Center.” The Chopra Center | balance. heal. transform. toll free: 888.424.6772. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2013. <http://www.chopra.com/community/online-library/tips/pitta-dosha>.
  3. Immel, John. “Watermelon – Ayurvedic Diet & Recipes.” Ayurvedic Diet & Recipes. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2013. <http://www.joyfulbelly.com/Ayurveda/ingredient/Watermelon/345>.
  4. Mateljan, George. “World’s Healthiest Foods.” whfoods.org. George Mateljan Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2013. <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=31>.
  5. Shakespeare, William, Barbara A. Mowat, and Paul Werstine. Romeo and Juliet. Washington Square Press new Folger’s ed. New York: Washington Square Books, published by Pocket Books, 1992. Print.

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