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Lighter Foods for Hotter Days

Nature is amazing! I love to think about the seasons of the Earth and how food grows. While winter naturally inspires cooked foods to help keep our bodies warm, when hot weather hits, it’s time to indulge our natural cravings for lighter foods with high water content. When you increase your consumption of fresh salad greens, summer vegetables, fresh herbs and ripe juicy fruits you get great benefits:
  • Less fat and calories
  • More fiber – helps keep you fuller longer
  • Plenty of antioxidants
  • Vitamins, minerals and trace minerals
  • Great variety; great taste
And you get water – so essential to life! We naturally crave cooler, juicier foods in the summer because we perspire a lot more from outdoor activities, work, play, exercise and even just relaxing in the heat. Did you know humans can live for about a month or longer with no food, but when it comes to water, a few days without it are about all we can last! Water makes up about 60 to 65% of our bodies — that’s a lot! The good news is that we get water from more than just what we drink. Food has water too! That means increasing our intake of cooling, water-filled foods helps keep our body temperature cooler and helps keep us feeling lighter and more refreshed. By some estimates, about 20% of our body’s need for water is satisfied through the foods we eat. As you can imagine, fruits and vegetables generally have the highest water content, although you will find some water even in bread, meats and dairy products. By eating foods with high water content, we contribute to our body’s reservoir of water. High on the list are:
  • Colorful bell peppers
  • Radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers
  • Carrots and celery
  • Salad greens and other leafy greens such as spinach
  • Broccoli, zucchini and yellow squash
  • Melons, citrus fruits and cherries
  • Papaya, apricots and apples
  • Grapes and strawberries
And there are plenty more. Keeping fruits and vegetables (when possible) raw is a good way to give your body a boost of enzymes naturally present in raw foods. For high enzyme impact, enjoy more mangoes, papayas, bananas, pineapples, sprouts and avocados. Here are some ways to add more fresh, light foods to your daily menu plan: Remember that cooling recipes like these take less time to prepare and require much less cooking. That means less heat in the kitchen and less cooking, if any! You’re in and out in a reasonable amount of time without overheating yourself as well! What’s your favorite food to keep your body cool in the summer heat? I’d love to know!

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Isabelle Hardesty says …

I naturally saw my desire for lighter foods during hotter days when I lived in NYC for several years. My appetite shifted, which only makes sense, and I leaned towards salads. Previously, I lived in Miami, and never saw such a marked difference. Amazing how our body keeps us in balance!

Cooking4carnivores says …

I love this heirloom tomato gazpacho - http://www.cooking4carnivores.com/2009/08/golden-gazpacho.html And this green apple mustard salad - http://www.cooking4carnivores.com/2009/08/apple-day.html

David says …

i'm a chef myself so understand the need for summer salads - when the weather is hot! I love fresh salads with roasted beetroot(served cold - but roasted with rosemary and garlic beforehand) , pine kernals , feta cheese and finished with a slightly sweet honey , grain mustard and balsamic dressing .. lovely

Johnnyenergy says …

Wow-Thank you so much for all the great alternatives to serving meat! I can't wait to go shop and start cooking some of these fantastic sounding recipes!

Linda Maldonado says …

Thank you. I, personally, would be extremely happy to eat like this all summer long, every day, and part of the time during other seasons. Alas! The three males that I feed day to day require more 'sustenance.' I love preparing food, usually, but I absolutely wilt in high temperatures. I can use these recipes for lunch for myself and as 'sides' for my men.