7 Cooling Foods for Hot Summer Days

 Healthy Eating 3I remember that in my growing up years, even living in a mild climate, summer meals were often salads, cold cuts, and lots of fresh fruit. 

It’s as if we’ve instinctively known that our dietary needs change somewhat with the seasons, and we eat things that tend to keep our body temperatures within reason, even though it may be blistering hot outside.

The Chinese medicine practitioners figured this out a long time ago. Grounded in the philosophy that there are two forces in the universe – yin and yang – the theory is that yin is the passive, negative force, and yang  is the active, positive one.

Wise people, the Chinese medical practitioners say, will detect these forces in the seasons, in their food, and so on, and will regulate their lives accordingly, keeping yin and yang in balance.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, we should eat more certain cooling or warming foods which can help to combat the changing weather.

It also considers that the human body and health are associated with the environment. Hence, changes in the weather can affect our body and therefore our health, and offer help for how we treat disease. Also, there are cooling foods which help to clear heat and toxins from the body, and nourish yin. The warming foods increase circulation and raise vital energy, thus the dispelling cold. In ancient times, practitioners used specific foods to balance the body’s yin and yang energy.

Symptoms of an overly yang body include perspiration, thirst, constipation, red eyes, red face, headaches, vivid dreams, mouth and tongue ulcers, rapid pulse, and heart burn.

Summer heat is one cause of a body being yang.

And here we are, in those lazy, hot, summer days, feeling the fire of the season, and answering it by cooling ourselves with its antidote — water.  We yearn for icy drinks, easy days lounging by the pool or lake or river, instinctively choosing foods that help us stay balanced in the heat of the summer weather.

Here, then, are 7 cooling foods, guaranteed to help you keep your yin and yang energy in balance, that is, to stay cool in the heat. 

Most of these foods are fine eaten in abundance all by themselves, because they, coincidentally, are “in season,”  and can be bought fresh and locally grown. However, if you want to dress them up a bit, I am including some of my favorite summer recipes for you to consider—all delicious and refreshing, of course. Note that some of the recipes include ingredients from more than one of the following cooling foods.

1. Dark Leafy Greens. We begin where we always begin, with these foods so central to the needs of our body at any time of year. Because they are composed of 80-95 percent water if they are not cooked, they are, in addition to all their other benefits, very easy to digest. They go through the digestive system quickly, giving a cooling sensation in the body.

Recipe for Cream of Spinach Soup 

2. Bananas. Bananas are sweet in taste and cold in nature.  They are able to clear intestinal “heat,” adding moisture and eliminating toxins.  If you eat a meal and then feel uncomfortable or nauseous or start vomiting, (which, according to Chinese medicine, may happen with too much yang food in the heat), you can a have a banana to help release the toxins.

3. Berries. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries are all very alkaline, yin fruits. They generate a cold energy in the body according to traditional Chinese Medicine.

Recipe for Blueberry Pie

4.  Sea Vegetables. Kombu, nori, wakame, arame, dulse, and kelp are all superb sea vegetables to include in your summer fare. They are high in calcium, iron, phosphorous, and trace minerals and vitamins, and are very supportive of thyroid health. They are also extremely yin and have a cool energetic quality.

Recipe for Kelp Noodles with Kale Pesto

5.  Avocado.  Avocados are the fruits that are highest in monounsaturated fatty acids content at 20 percent, nourishing the yin in the blood. About 80 percent of their caloric content is easily digested, especially among other fats.  Avocados also boast a potassium content that is three times that of a banana.  This is good news for people who love the creaminess that bananas can add to a recipe but don’t like their relatively high sugar content.

Recipe for Collard Rolls

6.  Melons. Cooling melons quench even the most intense thirst and are abundant throughout the summer months.  A simple slice offers a superb, refreshing experience.  Melons are low in calories and high in water content (95 percent), and anti-oxidants,  making them an extremely cooling fruit.

Recipe for Watermelon Soup

6. Romaine Lettuce reduces heat signs with its slightly bitter flavor. This plant nourishes the liver while tonifying the blood, helping to purge toxins from your system. Lettuce is  deliciously crisp and satisfying in a great big salad.

 Recipe for Strawberry Fields Salad

7Mushrooms. Mushrooms are cooling because of their nutritional profile.  Crimini mushrooms, particularly, provide an excellent source of 15 different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Eating them raw, a tenant of cooling foods, maximizes these benefits and the overall retention of their nutrients.

Recipe for Marinated Mushrooms

There you have it.  Granted, no one wants to spend  their entire summer in the kitchen. Enjoy one of these new, fun recipes each week for added sparkle and nutrition in your already fun vacation days.

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