The perks of summer are undeniable – longer evenings, increased sunshine and more time outdoors. What’s not to love? By the time August rolls around, however, it can start to feel like too much of a good thing! After a couple of months of sweltering heat and searing temperatures, you may be craving a slightly cooler day.
Feelings of irritability, fatigue and dehydration go hand in hand with the dog days of summer. Perhaps you are struggling to sleep at night, your skin feels itchy or you are getting headaches more frequently. All of these are signs that the summer heat is getting to you, and you need to take measures to cool yourself down.
As no one wants to spend a summers evening slaving over a hot stove; this is the season to adopt quick and simple meals so you can enjoy your evenings outside.
The sharp intensity of summer needs to be countered by soft, juicy, cooling foods that are sweet to taste. Yes, you heard that right – sweet is on the menu! Summer is the best time to enjoy naturally sweet foods but this does not include products that contain processed sugars like cookies, chocolate or candy. Try adding these cooling foods over the summer!
Cooling Foods For Summer
Ghee is considered a superfood in Ayurveda for its array of culinary and medicinal benefits. Never heard of ghee? Put simply, it is a type of clarified butter. This means that butter has been heated in a particular way until the difficult to digest milk solids are separated and you are left with pure, golden ghee.
The primary fat in ghee is called butyric acid. This is a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) that is very easy for the body to digest and absorb. Butyric acid is known for its anti-inflammatory action. Studies have shown that butyric acid reduces mucosal inflammation and reinforces the epithelial defense barrier in the intestines.
Ayurvedically, ghee is cooling in nature, pacifies Pitta dosha and calms irritated or inflamed tissues in the digestive tract. If you’re not convinced already, check out this post on the top 10 benefits of ghee. Learn how to make your own batch of ghee at home with just one inexpensive ingredient (organic unsalted butter) with this instructional video.
2. Basmati Rice
Do you feel spent after a long day of work in the summer months? You may need an extra energy boost. In Ayurveda, basmati rice is considered the “king of rices.” It is considered to be a sattvic, or pure ingredient that builds healthy tissues. Basmati rice is a complex carbohydrate meaning it is converted into glucose as an energy source for your body.
While most complex carbohydrates are slow releasing, basmati rice is easy to digest. This means the energy is made available more quickly to the body. Basically, it offers more energy for less digestive effort.
In summer, your digestive fire or metabolic strength (agni) is weaker than other times of the year. You can imagine in winter that your body needs a roaring fire to keep your internal temperature at a healthy level. In summer, a roaring fire would burn you up from the inside out. As part of your body’s natural intuition, your digestive fire reduces in summer to maintain a stable internal environment. However, this can lead to weaker digestion. Adding some mild digestives such as cardamom, mint, fennel seeds and cilantro to your food is recommended.
Cooling in nature, cilantro is often used to garnish a spicy curry to balance the heat. Cilantro has the dual action of boosting agni while still keeping you cool in summer. It is a mild diuretic which can help expel excess heat through the urinary system. It also helps clear built-up metabolic waste in the digestive tract, known as ama in Ayurveda.
Whether you opt for the milk, water or meat, coconut is a staple ingredient for staying cool in summer. Technically not a nut but a “drupe,” a type of fruit that has a hardened outer shell, coconuts are sweet to taste and cooling in energy. As well as its sweet taste, coconut has a sweet post-digestive effect that nourishes tissues, reduces inflammation and balances Pitta dosha.
They are also heavy and grounding, helping soothe late summer anxiety and irritability. Coconut water is packed full of essential minerals that are lost daily through sweating in summer months, so treat yourself to a cocktail of fresh coconut water at your next picnic or BBQ.
Feel like tempers are running high? Get your hands on some fresh pomegranate. The sour burst of juicy pomegranate will leave you feeling refreshed and energized in minutes. Cooling and astringent, pomegranate tones and tightens inflamed tissues in the intestines and is helps reduce loose stools that are common during summer.
Its combination of sweet and sour tastes means it is both nourishing and cooling, particularly to the blood. The sour taste also helps rebuild fluids and will relieve a parched, dry mouth after a day in the sun.
Peaches remain in season well into mid-August, so it is perfect timing for you to go and get some. Then treat yourself by making this rugelach with almonds and peaches. Peaches are juicy and help counteract the dryness of late summer. The sour tang of peaches increases hydration in the digestive tract and reduces dry constipation. However, eaten in excess peaches can be heating, so make sure to enjoy in moderation.
You can learn how to beat the heat with Ayurveda and seasonal eating. For guidance throughout the year, access our Ayurveda Meal Plan. You’ll receive personalized seasonal meals, delivered right to your inbox each week. Cooking for your body type has never been easier! Plus, each recipe contains information about both the Eastern and Western benefits and modifications to make it compatible for all your friends and family.