In my family, summertime was watermelon time. Almost every night after dinner, my mom would shoo us outside with a bowl of giant watermelon slices to munch on. Now, with the incredible heat hitting Portland this weekend and seeing watermelon starting to line the shelves of my grocery store, I feel a longing for those long, sweaty summer days of catching frogs, playing hiding-go-seek and turning brown as a bear from all the hours at the swimming pool.
As a child, I only knew how good watermelon tasted. I had no idea it was also good for my body. At over 90% water, watermelon is an excellent source of hydration. (See the importance of hydration here.) Recently, watermelon has been recognized as an excellent source of lycopene, a phytonutrient that’s important for our cardiovascular and bone health. Watermelon is a rich source of L-citrulline an amino acid which helps open up veins and arteries to improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. L-citrolline has also shown promise in helping to reduce muscle soreness after a hard workout. This tasty fruit has detox and diuretic properties due to the fact that it contains a lot of potassium but little sodium, which helps the body cleanse itself. With its low calorie content, watermelon is an excellent source of Vitamin C, copper and pantothenic acid. With all these amazing health benefits, watermelon should definitely be a part of your diet.
While I still love to eat watermelon off the rind, I thought it would be fun to try to find a way to drink my watermelon. The following recipe is an adaptation of a traditional Aqua Fresca used in Mexico for hydration.
- 3 cups sliced watermelon
- 3/4 cup of water
- 6-8 mint leaves per glass
- 2-3 thin slices of lime per glass
- 1 tsp sugar per glass (optional)
- Place mint leaves, limes and sugar (if using) in the bottom of the glass.
- Muddle leaves, lime slices and sugar until leaves and limes begin to release their juices.
- Put watermelon and water in blender and blend until liquid.
- Put ice in glass.
- Pour watermelon liquid over ice.
- Stir to mix mint, limes and watermelon together.
Photo by something from nancy on flickr.