Happy June, all. Summer is around the corner and that means one thing—it’s about to get hot. Beat the heat naturally by eating foods that cool you from the inside out. No air conditioning required for this gal, thank you very much!
In Ayurveda, each season correlates to specific foods, body types and qualities. Pitta is the summer season, and it indicates fire, water and all things made of warmth and sunlight. For a person to have a Pitta condition or constitution means to have dampness, sweat, oil and a warm temperature. For most of us, we automatically become the Pitta persona each summer! By eating cooling foods, we can combat the heat as we cool ourselves from the inside out, helping to relieve feelings of bloat, sweat, grease and general uckiness.
A cooling diet is really intuitive to eat during the hot summer months. Fruits and vegetables that you think of as “summer” foods are usually those that cool you naturally. The best choices to keep you cool during summer are watermelon, cucumber, mint, fennel, cilantro and aloe vera.
Getting your cooling foods into the diet is truly a no-brainer. Here are some summer recipe suggestions that are virtually fat-free, sugar-free and completely hassle-free.
Make a minted cucumber-watermelon salad. The flavor of this combination is neither sweet nor savory, yet somewhere perfectly in between. Have it any time of day with any meal or as a stand-alone snack and your heat is guaranteed to diminish. You’ll also get a strong diuretic effect from the watermelon and cucumber, which will reduce your feeling of bloat or puffiness from any summer humidity.
Grill the foods on a skewer for dessert or a side dish. Although commonly eaten raw, cucumber and watermelon are wonderful on the grill. Drizzle them either with a bit of honey or sea salt—or both, if you’re feeling crazy—for a so-simple cooling snack.
Make a mint pesto. Traditionally made with basil, pesto is an ideal summer recipe for perking up pasta salads, grain pilafs and grilled veggies. Just puree a few large handfuls of fresh mint with ample olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings—then use liberally for a cooling summer sauce.
Make a no-calorie summer cooler. Some of my favorite organic spas feature tall pitchers of fruit- and vegetable-infused water coolers in their reception areas, and I just love these herbal, peppy refreshers. Make your own by combining any of the following in a tall pitcher: lemon wedges, cucumber slices, watermelon pieces, mint leaves, cilantro leaves or fennel fronds. Chill the mixture for at least a few hours for the flavors to develop, then enjoy throughout the day for a sugarless refresher that doesn’t even need Splenda.
Invest in a bottle of aloe vera gel. The gel isn’t just cooling when applied externally to the body. Although it’s great for that, especially after a day in the sun. Aloe vera also cools the internal system and soothes our organs, so it’s a perfect addition to a summer tonic. Add just a capful or two of aloe vera gel (available at health food stores) to a tall glass of water. Drink, refresh.
Image adapted from Guillaume Paumier, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0