Foods that Fight the Summer Heat!

By Sarah Petty L. Ac., Dipl. Ac. on June 6th, 2012

Hello Everyone!

We are approaching higher temperatures and I thought this is a good time to share with you some foods that help cool the body. So Summer heat is approaching, and the Fire Element will be abundant. The flavor that corresponds to the Fire Element is Bitter. Bitter foods effect the Heart and Small Intestine. Bitter flavor helps reduce body heat, dry body fluids and can induce diarrhea (for example: coffee). Sour foods are either warming to cooling depending on if you are coming from an ayurvedic tradition or a chinese tradition. The chinese believe sour is cooling, and I would have to agree with them. Sour soothes the Liver, the official in the body responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (vital energy). Preventing stagnation will prevent friction from building, and heat forming in the body. Sour is also astringent, so it will help dry up and firm tissues. Salty (in moderation) is also yin and cooling. Salt helps lubricate the body when the body is too dry, and as a result, burning up-that dry heat. However, salt is more appropriate in the Fall and Winter as it help attune one to colder temperatures. The bitter flavor, which is not popular in the western diet, is going to be your best friend in Summer. To find relief, reduce warming foods and increase cooling foods. Below I have provided a list of foods to avoid and foods to incorporate.

Foods to Avoid

  • Fried foods-they create heat by putting stress on the Liver
  • Cured meats and red meats-very warming
  • Anchovy, mussel, trout, chicken, beef and lamb are warming meats
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Spices that are warming-cayenne (the warmest), garlic, paprika, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg-black pepper in moderation
  • Certain vegetables warm the body: bell pepper, horseradish, mushroom, raw onion, green onion, mustard greens, kale, radish, raw beetroot, raw ginger root, turnip, chili and tomato

Foods to Incorporate

  • Vegetables that are mostly bitter that cool: cucumber, leafy greens (except spinach), cooked beetroot, cabbage, bok choy, celery, alfalfa sprouts, fennel, asparagus, beans, zucchini, carrot, artichoke, snow peas, coriander, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, arugula, watercress, lettuce, endive, kale, radicchio, daikon radish
  • Cooling fruits: all melon (especially bitter melon-the most bitter of all fruits), pear, pomegranate, banana, blueberry, cranberry, grapefruit, all tropical fruits-as nature created them to cool animals living in hotter climates: pineapple, mango, papaya, coconut, avocado, kiwi, etc.
  • Herbs: basil, mint, coriander, thai basil, dill, fennel and curry leaves
  • Fish
  • Drink plenty of water

Here is a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis that is so mouth wateringly good and sure to keep you cool on a hot sumer’s day. Also consider a gazpacho, salmon nicoise salad and other meals that don’t require a lot of heat to prepare as the longer you cook your food, the warmer it gets energetically. Enjoy!

Roasted Salmon, Snap Pea and Cucumber Salad

1 lb. sugar snap peas, trimmed

2 small cucumbers, unpeeled, thinly sliced

1 cup (about 1/2 pint) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Grated zest of one large lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 (14.75 oz.) can of boneless, skinless pink salmon, drained

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the snap peas and cook until vibrant green, 1-2 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of iced water to cool, about 2 minutes. Drain and put in a salad bowl. Add the cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh dill.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth.

Using a fork, flake the salmon into 3/4″ pieces and add to the salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until coated.

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