Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Beat the Heat

Summer finally seems to be ramping up, even if those pesky winds don't seem to be leaving for summer vacation. This past weekend proved that once it warms up, it gets downright HOT. Of course, Spring also decided to prove that summer is still not officially here by unleashing a dose of snow at my house yesterday morning, and cooling the temps down once again.

However, I'm optimistic that summer will eventually decide to stay a while, and therefore I thought I'd write about herbs and foods that can help the body cool off after a nice round in the sun.
As we start to get into the swing of summertime activities our bodies may naturally be seeking things that are cool, especially if we tend to participate in activities that heat us up and then leave us parched and dehydrated--like mountain biking, road cycling, rock climbing, running, hiking, etc.

Some local residents are fortunate enough to have a membership to one of the lovely outdoor pools in the area, and others choose to head inside to the local aquatic center for a nice cool down swim.
Kiddie pools, sprinklers, and mud puddles are long known as the choice of cool down for most kids...I think kids just simply have an innate sense of how to have fun and regulate body temps all at the same time. As my daughter demonstrates so naturally...

Many foods and herbs are cooling as well, and can be enjoyed while one is sitting near the pool or the sprinkler...whatever the case may be! Many of these foods are obvious coolers that often end up on the table due to seasonal availability--like cucumbers and watermelon. However, most people probably don't realize that watermelon seed can be taken internally for "summer heat," which is characterized by symptoms of fever, ruddy skin, rapid pulse, and great thirst.

Most mints are cooling because they open the pores of skin and allow for a better transfer of sweat to the outside layer of skin, which will subsequently cool the body. Mint sun tea is often a hit at backyard BBQs and parties! Of course, if we want to have fun with mint, there are all kinds of recipes it can be added to: strawberry salsa with mint, thai soda, mojitos, ice cream, coconut and mint popsicles--you name it!

Chinese medicine has identified the inherent energy of all herbs and many foods into the categories of hot, warm, neutral, cool, and cold. The taste of individual foods often indicate its energy. Bitter foods, like endive or dandelion greens, tend to be cooling. Sour foods, like lemons, are refreshing and cool. Spicy foods, such as jalapenos, tend to be stimulating and heating. Salty foods, like seaweeds and miso, are cool and softening. Full and sweet foods, such as barley and winter squash, are considered neutral to slightly warming.

Summertime cooling foods can include whole-grain salads made from barley, wheat kernals, and mung beans. Tofu is also considered cooling, as is edamame. Vegetables that are cool include eggplant, lettuce, radish, spinach, mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts, summer squash, celery, asparagus, and broccoli.
Cold vegies include tomato, bamboo shoots, seaweed, and snowpeas. Most seasonal fruits are cool, such as pear, apple, peach, and apricot. But watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe are considered cold.

So, in light of all these ideas, it seems that the standard American summer BBQ sampler of fruit salads, green salads, iced tea, and watermelon all help us cool off. Good old potato salad and homemade ice cream help too!

Mmmmm...that all sounds too good!

Feel free to share your recipes for good old summer fare!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool picture of the mud puddle!