Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Icy Watermelon Mango Drink:
A Toast to Summer

Well, it was inevitable.  

In Austin, we have been spoiled with weather reminiscent of an actual Spring, with rain, cool, cloudy mornings, water in our brooks, lakes, and rivers, extended wildflower bloomings, and temperatures floating somewhere between 70 and 85 on a daily basis.  Which is totally not normal.  Which is why the extremely tardy appearance of Summer has completely blindsided so many of us here.  Now, temperatures are shackled between the 90s and 100+, and that's before we even take humidity into account, and walking outside during the day is less a recreational activity than a necessary evil.  [wrings out sweat-soaked bandanna]

But with the season comes some of the year's most beautiful fruits and vegetables.  And while I'm more of a cool weather, indoorsy kind of guy, I will gladly don my wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, and umbrella to venture to the farmers' market so I may emerge sweaty, hot and actually bothered, but victorious with the splendors of Mother Nature's gifts filling my reusable canvas bags.  

Like watermelon.

There really is nothing quite like a slice of ripe, juicy, chilled watermelon on a bright, sunny, Summer day, with the juices trickling onto your fingers and out the corners of your mouth as you savor each bite in closed-eye ecstasy.  And today's recipe for a super simple and delicious drink captures that essence beautifully and succinctly.

Just with a little less mess.

Watermelon Mango Ginger Chiller with Mint
Gluten-Free, Vegan, & Raw

Active Prep Time:  5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time:  none
Blending Time: 2-3 minutes
Yield:  32 ounces/1 quart

4 c (20 oz) chopped fresh watermelon
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (usually the juice of 1 lime)
1 teaspoon minced ginger root

1 c (5 oz) frozen mango
2 sprigs mint
dash salt

extra mint leaves, to garnish
chili powder, to garnish (optional)

What you'll need:  Blender, chilled glasses, a hot, sunny day

1.  Combine watermelon, lime juice, and ginger in blender.  Make sure to chop the watermelon into smaller size chunks or you may encounter trouble getting the mixture to blend at first.
2.  Once it has blended to a point that the "solid" components are now a roughly uniform liquid, add fresh mango, mint leaves, and salt.  Blend until combined.
3.  Pour into chilled glasses, garnish with mint leaves, a dash of cayenne, chipotle, or your favorite chili powder blend if you wish, and enjoy.

Barely any additional liquid is needed.

Almost there...

Beyond being delicious, refreshing, and so perfect for Summer, this cool drink is also packed full of health benefits from its main ingredient.  Watermelon, and it's trademark pinkish red color, is an excellent source of lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient that is strongly linked to cardiovascular health, circulation, immune support, and reducing inflammation.  And the deeper pink to red the flesh is (usually correlated with the ripeness of the watermelon), the higher concentration of lycopene, so pick a good one.  [insert sound of melon thumping]  And going back to the root of the name, watermelon flesh is made up of close to 90% water, so enjoying this fruit in the heat when dehydration can sneak up on us makes a whole lot of sense.

I hope you love this beverage as much as I do - so good, so simple, and so healthy.  

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