In the heat of the summer, as we seek ways to cool down, our travel and lifestyle choices change too.
The season offers trips to beaches and lakes as well as opportunities to picnic under a shady tree. The kinds of foods we eat change also; we instinctively seek a fruit and vegetable based diet, and believe it or not, our instincts can lead us in the right direction.
According to The Tao of Nutrition, by Maoshing Ni, Ph.D, C.A. and Cathy McNease, B.S., M.H., foods have heating and cooling properties. Some foods actually function as a refrigerant for our bodies. We’ve all heard the phrase “cool as a cucumber” because it is a powerfully cooling food. Indian raita, made with yogurt and cucumber, is a traditional food to cool down a spicy hot curry meal.
Mexican meals, made to balance a hot climate, are commonly flavored with the cooling fresh herb cilantro (or its dried sister cumin). That standard summer picnic fare, potato salad (if you leave out the onions) is full of cooling vegetables, like potatoes, celery, and carrots. (I like cooling corn and peas in mine also.) Watermelon is a great fruit to dispel summer heat, as are the rest of the fruits in the following recipe.
Watermelon Salad BasketServes 12 (1-cup servings)
1 medium watermelon (2 – 21/2 pounds)
8 oz. organic strawberries, quartered
2 pears, cubed in 1-inch pieces (2 cups)
1 granny smith apple, cubed in 1-inch pieces (1 cup)
2 – 3 bananas, sliced in 1-inch thick pieces, (2 cups)
To prepare the watermelon basket, visually divide the watermelon in half horizontally. This process is somewhat like carving a pumpkin, so if you don’t feel artistically confident, mark the desired cuts in the watermelon with a pen or marker.
On the top half, cut two parallel lines about two inches apart starting in the middle on one side and ending in the same place on the opposite side. This will be the handle of the basket. If you do your initial cut with a small sharp knife, then go back over it with a longer knife afterwards, it’s easier to cut.
Next you’ll make a horizontal cut as if you were going to divide the watermelon in two, but careful not to cut off the “handle” sections of the watermelon. You can probably cut out a big wedge on each side that can be set aside for watermelon slices (they won’t be needed for the salad.)
Carefully cut around the handle section. Then cut out the watermelon flesh from inside the “bowl”, seed it, cut 6 cups of one-inch cubes from the flesh and place in separate mixing bowl.
Peel the tangerines, divide into wedges, and add to a bowl with the watermelon cubes. Next, top and quarter the strawberries and add them to the bowl. Add the sliced pears and apples and mix. Right before serving, gently toss in the bananas and place the salad into your watermelon basket.
Don’t forget the cooling power of beverages. Instead of grabbing a soda that acts as a diuretic and only benefits you because of the cup of ice it’s served with, drink a cooling lemonade, or better yet cucumber or orange water. You can sit in the shade, drink the cucumber water, and then put those nice cool cucumbers over your eyes for a few minutes. The table below shows cooling herbs that make great summer iced teas. Sit a gallon jar of water and herbs in the sun in the morning and have fresh brewed sun tea for lunch! And with your sun tea you can enjoy your ramen in a nice cool salad instead of as a steaming hot bowl of noodles.
Food Type: Protein
Cool Choices: soy (tofu, tempeh, soymilk), mung beans
Food Type: Grain
Cool Choices: brown rice, barley, millet
Food Type: Vegetable
Cool Choices: carrot, celery, cucumber, corn, cabbage, snow peas, yams, potatoes, spinach
Food Type: Fruit
Cool Choices: pomegranate, coconut, watermelon, citrus fruits, apple, pear
Food Type: Herbs
Cool Choices: raspberry leaf, red clover, mint, lemongrass, licorice, cilantro, hibiscus, dill
Ramen SaladServes 4
3 packages Brown Rice Ramen
1/2 cup “Simply Delicious” shiitake sesame dressing
2 cups Chinese cabbage, thinly chopped
1 cup Chinese cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise and then cut in half
1 cup (5 oz.) Follow Your Heart ” chicken-free chicken,” thinly sliced and cut in 1-inch pieces
Cook the ramen according to package directions, but instead of adding the flavor packet, drain ramen, rinse in cool water, and toss with the shiitake dressing. Add the cabbage, cucumber, red bell pepper slices, and the “chicken-free” chicken slices. Toss and serve.
By Sharon Seiders