Hot Summer. Cool Food.
Ancient health sciences advise that the summer diet should differ from the winter diet. 'Cooling' food choices include light, easy to digest proteins and water-rich fruit and vegetables to help ease the load on your digestive system and keep you hydrated when the heat is on.
Here are some hot tips on cooling foods for you this summer:
1. Drink lots of water! This is your best weapon against heatstroke and dehydration.
2. Add small amounts of spices like chilli, ginger and pepper to your food to stimulate the body's cooling mechanism by making you sweat, which then helps you cool.
3. Avoid salty or pungent foods.
4. Water-rich fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, macronutrients and antioxidants. Choose what's in season and grown locally from: all citrus fruits, mangoes, lettuce, spinach, watermelon, cucumber, pear, peppermint, bananas, celery, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, corn, tomatoes and pineapple.
5. Gazpacho - or chilled soup - is a light but savoury and cooling dish to include in your summer menu (see recipe below).
6. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks have warming properties. Drinks with cooling properties include yoghurt-based lassies or mocktails with fruit and vegetable juices; fruit punch or herbal teas - think peppermint, camomile, mint or chrysanthemum- with a little honey.
7. Legumes, tofu and seafood are light protein choices for summer.
8. Grains with a cooling nature include millet and white rice.
9. The manner of cooking food also affects how warming or cooling it will be. Foods that are lightly steamed or cooked can be cooling, whereas deep-frying is the most warming of all.
This Spanish soup, served chilled, is a delicious cooling summer lunch. It is easy to prepare and packed full of nutrients since the vegetables are not cooked.
2 slices bread, crusts removed (stale bread is fine)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
500g ripe tomatoes, quartered and seeded
500 mL tomato juice
1 red capsicum, seeded, chopped
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeded, chopped, plus extra finely chopped as a garnish
1/2 long red chilli, seeded
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1. Break bread into large pieces and place in a bowl. Pour over red wine vinegar and set aside for 10 minutes.
2. Place bread in a blender or food processor. Add garlic, sugar, tomatoes, tomato juice, capsicum, cucumber, chilli and green onions, and blend until combined.
3. With processor running, pour in olive oil in a thin stream. When all the oil is added, season with salt and pepper, to taste.
4. Transfer the soup to a large jug, cover and refrigerate until chilled.
5. Just before serving, mix through some ice cubes.
6. Serve in small bowls or glasses and add extra chopped cucumber as a garnish. Accompany with bread rolls.