Watermelon, aduki beans & mung beans are common foods with enough medicinal properties to earn a place in the pharmacopeia of Chinese herbs & medicinals.
All of these are useful in treating a condition described in Chinese medicine as summerheat. Summerheat happens when we catch a bug during the summer or simply get overheated by long days of sunshine. Summerheat is characterized by fever, sweating, irritability, thirst and sometimes diarrhea.
When you're feeling overheated this summer, try eating watermelon, aduki beans or mung beans. They all help to cool you down. They help generate fluids in your body to alleviate thirst and irritability. Gentle diuretics, to drain that heat and dampness that's making you feel so lethargic, through your urine.
Each of these food also dilates the blood vessels and gently reduces blood pressure. They also have antiseptic & anti-bacterial properties as well, helping to rid our systems of toxins and pathogens.
Eating watermelon is kind of a no-brainer.
Aduki (sometimes also called azuki or adzuki) and mung beans can be found in their dry form in most grocery stores. Prepare them as you would prepare other dried beans: soak them for several hours or overnight (or even sprout them) to improve their digestibility before cooking.
Here's a yummy recipe from Penelope Ody's book, The Chinese Herbal Cookbook: Healing Foods from East & West:
Aduki & Mung Bean Salad
5 oz aduki beans
5 oz mung beans
a head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
1 lemon cut in half
1 lime cut in half
2 bay leaves
For the dressing:
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1 Tblsp lime juice
5 Tblsps extra-virgin olive oil
Handful of fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn into shreds
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsely
Handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Start making the salad the day before by soaking the aduki & mung beans in a bowl of cold water overnight. Drain well.
Put the soaked beans in a saucepan with the garlic, lemon and live halves and the bay leaves. Cover with plenty of water; bring to boil, cover, reduce heat & simmer for about 1 hour, until the beans are cooked (soft but not too soft).
Meanwhile, make the dressing, which must be ready to pour onto the hot beans when they are cooked. Using a pestle and mortar or small blender, mash the garlic with the lemon & lime juices, then slowly pound in the oil and herbs. Add salt & pepper to taste.
When the beans are cooked, drain them well, discarding the garlic, lemon & lime halves and bay leaves. Toss the hot beans in the dressing and serve them when cool, as a light summer lunch.
Penelope Ody. The Chinese Herbal Cookbook: Healing Foods from East & West. London: Kyle Cathie Limited, 2000.