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:
Add a side of salad to a sandwich. Here’s an irresistible Apricot and Feta Green Salad opens in a new tab and a yummy Carrot, Red Onion and Cilantro Salad opens in a new tab.
Add fresh fruit salad to breakfast or enjoy for dessert. This Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing opens in a new tab is a cool way to do just that.
Serve sliced multi-colored bell peppers as a side dish or with a dip like hummus or bean dip. Try this Festive Jicama Salad opens in a new tab — the peppers make it delicious!
Marinate cucumber slices in yogurt with chives and parsley; serve with lunch or dinner. Here’s a recipe for Summer Cucumber and Dill Salad opens in a new tab.
Add melon chunks to your smoothie or make a soup! This recipe for Chilled Minted Melon Soup opens in a new tab will keep you cool and happy.
Try a tropical smoothie with pineapple or papayas. Here’s a Peach Papaya Shake opens in a new tab.
Snack on radish slices with a sliver of goat cheese or a sprinkling of pine nuts. Or temp yourself with this Crisp Fennel and Radish Salad opens in a new tab.
Freeze grapes and enjoy for a snack or dessert. Like grapes? You’re going to LOVE these Double Grape Slushies opens in a new tab.
Experiment with adding less familar greens to your salads. Try this tasty Kale Salad opens in a new tab.
Explore fun fruit and veggie combinations, like this Orange and Fennel Salad opens in a new tab and this Summer Fruit and Spinach Salad. opens in a new tab
Add rinsed, canned beans to fresh foods for a satisfying meal. I like this Mango and Avocado Salad with Black Beans and Lime Vinaigrette opens in a new tab.
Fresh berries make a delicious dessert for any meal. If you like, dress them up a bit like in this Raw Berry Crisp opens in a new tab.
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!