We’ve been lucky to have a pretty cool spring here in Texas, but you can feel the days and nights heating up. Nature is so freaking amazing if we follow its lead. Let’s talk for a minute about the foods we eat. Nature automatically provides the kinds of foods we need for the specific weather, if we pay attention, and eat seasonally. During the cold months, we automatically crave heavy, heat-inducing foods. Can you imagine eating watermelon when there’s snow and ice on the ground? And during the summer, we have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, just at the time when we want them.
According to both traditional Chinese medicine, and Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, foods can have a heating or cooling nature. Keep these 5 foods and 5 spices in your kitchen for the next few months, and make your summer more pleasant!
- Cucumbers. These watery gems not only keep you cool and hydrated, but they aid in digestive health, detoxifying the body and weight loss. They’re great in a salad or by themselves.
- Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale). Besides their internal cooling effect, according to the National Cancer Institute, studies on rats and cells grown in the laboratory show that these powerhouses contain compounds that can help to prevent cancer.
- Sweet fruits, like oranges, apples, berries and pineapple. But they gotta be sweet – the sour ones will make you hot instead. Now, who has ever told you to favor sweet foods? Me, that’s who. You’re welcome.
- Beans. And they’re full of fiber and protein, so they fill you up without a lot of calories.
- White meat chicken and turkey. The dark meat tends to have a heating effect, but the less oily white meat is lighter and more cooling during the summer months.
- Cilantro/coriander. Did you know that coriander is the seed from the cilantro plant? And that it has cooling properties?
- Turmeric. The superfood of all spices, in addition to having cooling properties, turmeric fights inflammation, boosts immunity and strengthens digestion. It supports proper function of the pancreas and the heart. It soothes joints. What more could you ask for?
- Mint/peppermint/spearmint/wintergreen. Don’t you just feel cooler even thinking of them? Iced peppermint tea on a hot summer afternoon – it just hits the spot!
- Ginger. This root has anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties, as well as stimulating circulation. A chunk of fresh ginger is a great addition to your morning smoothie.
- Basil. You can grow this easily in a pot in the yard or your kitchen window. Add it to ice water for a cooling beverage, and experience it’s anti-inflammatory and and anti-bacterial effects
And here are two recipes, one ancient and one modern and trendy, to cool you off!
Ayurvedic CCF Tea
1/4 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander and fennel
1 1/2 cups of water
Grind the spices together. Bring the water to a boil, and add the spices. Let it simmer for 3-4 minutes to infuse the spices. You can drink the tea hot, room temperature or iced. Add maple syrup (a cooling sweetener) if you want some sweetness. BONUS: this tea is great for your digestion!
1 cup water or unsweetened almond milk
1 cup berries (your choice)
A couple of chunks of pineapple
1 cup kale
2-3 tablespoons flax seeds
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Blend together and enjoy!