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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cooling Summer Foods

The end of May means the beginning of Summer. Pools and beaches will be open and the weather will continue to warm up. The change of season means it is time to change up the foods we eat. We will want to start to eat foods that have a cooling effect on the body, to stay fresh during the coming months.

Instinctively there are certain foods that are more appealing to us in the summertime versus the winter months, but there is logic as to why. We tend to think of a food’s energy in terms of calories, but all foods were once alive and therefore have a living energy that effects our bodies’ response when we consume them. Therefore we can eat foods that have a cooling effect on the body during the warm months, and a warming effect on the body during the cold ones.

There are a few things to consider when choosing foods for these cooling effects. How it is grown, the color of the food, and how it is cooked. As a general rule, vegetables and fruits that take less time to grow, and grow above ground, have more of a cooling effect on the body, as well as a more uplifting and energizing effect. Some of these include, most leafy greens, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, zucchini and yellow squash. Conversely, those that take longer to grow and grow beneath the soil have a more grounding and warming effect on the body. These include root vegetables such as potatoes and parsnips, onions, garlic.

Following what we know about cool colors and warm ones, the same general principle applies to foods. Foods that are blue and green in color are usually more cooling than those that are red or orange. Herbs can be considered as well. Spices such as cayenne, cinnamon and cloves are all warming, which is why we tend to crave them in the fall and winter months. Mint and cilantro have the opposite effect and are great in summer salads and salsas!

Cows, pigs, chickens etc are all warm blooded animals, so when we consume them they have a warming effect on the body. Fish are cold blooded and therefore seafood and seaweeds will have a cooling effect. But it is also important to consider the method in which all of the above foods are prepared. The closer a food is to its raw state, the cooler it will be. So the less it is cooked, the more cooling, and the more it is cooked, the more warming it will be. Therefore lightly steaming vegetables will keep them cool, while broiling, frying or baking will diminish their cooling properties.

Make your summer full of vibrant salads made from lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and you will keep healthy, cool and of course fresh all summer long!

Keep it Fresh (and Cool) - Jill

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