Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cooling Foods for Summer

Although we know instinctively that some foods are more appealing in summer and others in winter, in western medicine and cuisine, there is no such thing as cooling foods for summer and warm foods for winter. Whereas in traditional Chinese medicine and cuisine, foods are classified as either cooling or heaty regardless of their caloric, carbohydrate, protein or fat content.

We lose a lot more moisture from our bodies during summer through the increase in heat and activity levels. Therefore, care should be taken to include foods that provide a lot more water and moisture as well as cool our bodies down from the heat considerably.

In this article, we will consider foods and food preparation techniques that are appropriate for summer because of their inherent cooling properties. In general, cooling foods ideal for summer time are the ones that contain a lot of water and are easy to digest.

1. Raw foods and foods eaten cold or lightly cooked (such as steamed or quickly stir-fry) are more cooling than foods that are heavily season and cooked using harsh cooking methods such as deep frying and grilling.

2. Foods that take the shortest time to grown tend to be the most cooling. Examples include corn, lettuce, celery, radish, cucumber, summer squash, broccoli, tomatoes, beet root, brussels sprouts, snow peas and most leafy vegetables. Vegetables on the other end of the scale (i.e. heaty) includes cabbage, kale, mustard greens, onions, garlic, winter squash, parsnip, leek, chive, scallion, cherries and dates.

3. Green, blue and purple vegetables and fruits tend to be more cooling than red, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits. For example, a green apple or bell pepper would be relatively more cooling than a red apple or bell pepper respectively.

4. Most fruits are cooling especially citrus but there are some fruits that are considered heaty. Examples of heaty fruits include mangoes, peaches, grapes, apricots, durian and jackfruit. Cooling fruits include citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges, apples, figs, raspberries and raisins.

5. Herbs and spices can also render foods more cooling or heaty. Examples of cooling spices as you can easily remember are the ones that give you that "chilling" effect when you consume them and include cilantro, lemon balm, peppermint and white peppercorn. The heaty ones are the ones that tastes a little spicier or have a stronger taste profile and include ginger, cloves, cayenne pepper, basil, nutmeg and cinnamon.

6. In terms of drinks and liquid foods, you can logically expect herbal teas and vegetable broths to be cooling while alcohol and coffee are heaty drinks.

7. Most meats are heaty. Seafood on the other hand is more cooling.

8. Some grains are cooling and some are heaty. Examples of cooling grains include amaranth, barley, millet, brown rice and wheat.



wan said...

Hey stranger... when did you move to Chicago?

Kelly said...

Hey Wan,

It's such a nice surprise to hear from you. Yup....moved here about a year and a half ago. How are things with you?