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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition


Asian Wintermelon: Boosts Energy Without Jitters

Jan 30, 2012 01:11PM ● By Claire Smith

As a result of participating in an Inner Engineering meditation program, Jennifer Carlson has learned a few uncommon yogic recipes to healthfully boost her energy without stimulants. These simple recipes, in combination with the daily meditation Carlson learned from the program, helped her eliminate a serious caffeine dependency that was robbing her of health.

“I am a night-shift nurse, which means I work as long as 12 hours through the night. In an emergency room situation, every moment, someone’s life depends on my alertness,” Carlson emphasizes. “I used to drink coffee and soda throughout my shift to maintain my effectiveness. When I came home, I was completely drained, nauseous and jittery, I would have to eat something really heavy just so I could settle my stomach and sleep for a few hours—then I would begin this cycle all over again. The night shift was taking such a huge toll on my body. Mentally, I was feeling depressed. I knew I couldn’t survive this much longer, but I value my career.”

Carlson remembered a dietary tip she learned in the Inner Engineering program about a white melon that naturally cools the system and imparts a natural energy boost without caffeine or other stimulants. Desperate for something to replace caffeine, she tried it. “It has helped dramatically,” she says. “It makes me feel highly energized and alert, but not at all jittery, nervous or agitated, like coffee does—there’s no subsequent crash afterward. It gives me a really healthy feeling boost, not an adrenaline rush.”

The fruit in question is wintermelon, or tung qwa, in Chinese. Eaten mostly in India and China; it is often cubed and added to soups in Asian cooking. However, the yogis of India have long regarded wintermelon as one of the most naturally energizing foods, due to its high quotient of what yogic science refers to as prana, or vital life energy. To retain this prana, wintermelon must be eaten raw.

“In yoga, we do not look at foods in terms of vitamins, minerals or proteins. We categorize food in three ways: positive pranic food, negative pranic food, and zero pranic food,” explains Inner Engineering founder and realized Yogi, Sadhguru. “Positive substances are those which, when consumed, add prana to the system. The pranic energy, the vital energy in the body, will increase.” According to Sadhguru, wintermelon, fresh coconut and lemon are among the most pranic foods available.

“This one addition to my diet, in combination with my daily meditation practice, has enabled me to break the unhealthy cycle of ups-and-downs,” Carlson explains. “I drink two to three glasses of wintermelon juice while I am at work to stay energized through the night, and then I sit for about 20 minutes of meditation when my shift is over, to rest and recharge my system,”

Carlson continues, “My meditative practice also greatly reduces my need for sleep. So when I come home now, I eat a healthy meal and then sleep for about five or six hours.” Together, these simple lifestyle changes have even allowed Carlson to spend time with her kids after school and make them dinner before she goes off to work again.

The taste of wintermelon is very mild, like a cucumber. It has virtually no taste of its own, so it is easy to work into all kinds of salads, smoothies and juices on hot days. On cold days, you can add either honey or black pepper to the melon to reduce natural cooling qualities in the fruit, while retaining its raw energy boost.

Wintermelon may not be stocked by your local supermarket, but in most cities it can be found at Chinese markets, Indian markets or international farmers’ markets. Look for a melon about the size, shape and color of a watermelon, but with a characteristic white, “ash-coated” surface. This white powder that coats the outer rind is where the melon also gets the common name ash gourd. This powder is harmless to eat, but becomes sticky when wet. It should be rinsed from the surface before slicing the melon open. Uncut, a wintermelon will keep for a month or more in a cool, dry storage area.

Wintermelon recipes to boost energy without caffeine:

  • Wintermelon & Watermelon Smoothie: Blend equal parts wintermelon and watermelon in a blender with water or plain yogurt and add honey or agave syrup to taste.
  • Lime & Wintermelon Cooler: Juice 2-3 cups of wintermelon in a juicer, add fresh lime juice and salt to taste. Blend in a sprig of mint or cilantro for a fresh twist.
  • Wintermelon Raita: Grate wintermelon and mix with plain yogurt, add lemon or lime juice, salt, black pepper and a sprinkling of roasted cumin seeds. Raita is a great counterpart to any spicy Indian or Mexican dish.

Find more pranic recipes in the cookbook, A Taste of Isha: Recipes for the Pranic Lifestyle. For more information about the Inner Engineering program, visit

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