A major aspect for optimum health is maintaining balance and part of this balance depends on what we consume at certain times of the year. During summer months, we should focus on consuming cooler foods. Heavy foods with high fat content may be eaten in the summer, but limited in quantity. Whereas fish, chicken, salads, vegetables and fruits with high water-content, and sprouts are ideal. These foods should be eaten as freshly prepared as possible. Such simple adjustments will help with our overall health and cool our bodies naturally.
Some foods with high water content and cooling properties include apples, berries (strawberry, cherries etc), pears, plums, water chestnut (singhara), melons, cucumber. Other foods which are known to have cooling properties are barley, wheat, buckwheat, oats, chicken, most fish, brinjal, beetroot, onion, lemon, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, lettuce, millets, soybean and mung beans. While these foods are specifically cooling, several other foods are considered neutral and may be eaten year-round. Fruits are considered as natural thirst quenchers. Intake of processed foods, oily stuff and chemical ‘thirst quenchers’ such as soft drinks, only increases thirst.
Along with taking these foods we should also keep ourselves hydrated throughout the warmer months. Water intake should be a minimum of 10-12 glasses in a day. In addition to water other liquids which can replenish lost electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride) should be taken especially after any heavy physical activity. Drinks containing caffeine should be limited because they tend to rob our bodies of needed water reserves. Just because the drink is cold it quenches our thirst but it does not cool our body. Iced water and carbonated beverages are one of the largest contributors to a weakened digestion causing gas, bloating and lethargy after their consumption. Room temperature fluids are actually assimilated better by our bodies.
Few nutritious thirst quenchers which can be incorporated in our diet during hot summer months are jaljeera, aam panna, nimbu pani, etc. recipes of which are given below for your reference.
1. Jal Jeera (Serves 6)
Ingredients: Tamarind (seedless) – 30g, Mint leaves (crushed) – 1 T, Lemon- 1, Ginger- 1” piece, Black Salt- ¼ t, Water- 3 cups, Salt- 1 T, Sugar- 1 T. Method: Soak tamarind in about 1 cup water for three hours. Rub it with fingers, and then add the remaining water and strain. Add crushed ginger, mint leaves, salt, black salt and sugar. Mix well and leave for two hours. Add lemon juice and sieve. Adjust water, chill and serve.
2. Mintade (Serves 2)
Ingredients: Water- 1½ cup, Mint- 6 stems, Sugar- 1 T, Lemon juice- 1 T. Method: Boil water and dissolve sugar in it. Clean and wash mint, chop along with stems and put in boiling water. Boil for five minutes, remove from heat and cool. Add lemon juice. Keep covered and chill. Strain and add water.
3. Panna (Serves 2)
Ingredients: Raw mango- 1 (100 g), Sugar – 1 T, Black pepper powder- Pinch, Black salt- Pinch, Water- 180 ml, Salt- ½ t, Zeera (powdered, roasted)- ¼ t, Mint Leaves- a few. Method: Boil mango till soft. Let it cool, soften it by rolling in palms and squeeze out pulp in water. Add sugar and seasoning, blend well till mixed. Strain. Chill and serve garnished with chopped mint leaves.
4. Coco pine Cooler (Serves 1)
Ingredients: Coconut water (green coconut) – 60 ml, Pineapple juice- 60 ml, Pineapple cubes- a few, Sugar (powder) – 1 t (optional). Method: Mix coconut water, pineapple juice and sugar in a jug and keep in a refrigerator. At the time of serving adjust water and blend in a blender till smooth. Garnish with pineapple pieces.
These drinks not only will cool your body naturally but also will provide essential nutrients.
Enjoy your foods and drinks but be judicious in choosing them according to the prevailing season.
Note: T: tablespoon, t: teaspoon.
Image Courtesy: Digitalart