Summer is in full season bringing record high temperatures to Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale. For those of us living in central Arizona summer usually means getting up extra early in order to exercise outdoors and then spending the rest of our time hiding inside from the heat and sun. One way to to stay even cooler is to eat cooling foods and herbs. In fact, one of my colleagues swears he avoids using air conditioning in his house during the hot muggy Chicago summers by loading up on foods that cool down and rehydrate the body like cucumbers and watermelon. According to Chinese medicine, certain foods are considered to be thermally cool or even cold. For example, most raw fruit and veggies are considered to be cool, but cooked fruits and vegetables are considered warm. In hot dry climates it is especially important to emphasize these seasonal foods. However, those of us with sensitive digestive systems may find that these foods are too cooling and upset our already sensitive systems. In those cases, it is best to moderate our intake of raw foods and juices and add cooked foods and warming spices that support our digestive systems like ginger, nutmeg, cardamon, coriander and fennel.
Have you ever gone to a summer fair and over indulged on fried foods, ice cream and iced drinks only to suffer the consequences? In Chinese medicine we call this summer heat plus dampness. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, fatigue and heavy headedness. It is tempting to try and cool off with iced drinks and ice cream, but these foods can injure the stomach’s ability to digest food, so these along with other dairy, fried foods and heavy greasy foods including red meats, which are very warming should be enjoyed in moderation particularly during the summer season.
Watermelon is a great summertime food. Not only is it cooling, but it also helps to nourish and restore lost fluids. Here is a tasty recipe for a cooling watermelon beverage:
6 cups cubed watermelon. Seeds removed
1/4 cup raspberries
1 cup water
stevia or honey to taste
In a blender, blend watermelon and raspberries. Add water to desired consistency and stevia or honey to taste.
Enjoy and stay cool!