by Christy Morgan
This week we are happy to have a guest post from The Blissful Chef Christy Morgan!
Now that summer is in full force you may be craving more raw, refreshing foods. In the warmer months it makes sense to eat more cooling foods and intuitively our bodies crave it. Water dense foods, like watermelon, peaches, pineapple, cucumber, tomatoes and berries, cool us off and give us more hydration. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat only raw all summer. It’s good to have a diet varied in all kinds of fruits and vegetables, both cooked and raw. Here are some tips on how to cook seasonally and get the most out of your diet during warmer months.
1. Eat Organic, Local, Seasonal Foods
For the health of the planet and to keep your body in balance with your surrounding environment, it’s best to eat as much local, organic, seasonally grown produce as possible. In the summer this should be easy because no matter where you live you should have access to local (within a 300 mile radius) food via your local natural food store, farmer’s market or CSA.
Foods that support you in summer:
• Grains: corn, maize, amaranth, quinoa, millet, soba noodles
• Vegetables: asparagus, Brussels sprouts, bitter greens like kale, collards, arugula, yellow squash & zucchini, sprouts, fresh herbs, beets, cauliflower
• Beans and Pulses: red lentils, chickpeas, mung beans
• Fruits: apricot, guava, strawberry and other berries, persimmon, avocado, melons
2. Use Cooling Cooking Methods for Summer
Use lighter cooking methods in warmer months like steaming, blanching, water sauté, raw or chilled soups, raw salads, and even lightly grilled is good for summer. Make quick-cooking grains and legumes like the ones listed above. Having noodles or cracked-grains like couscous, polenta, and bulgur can be great for summer too. Intuitively, your body doesn’t crave baked foods, oil sauté, or longer cooked meals in the summer because those aren’t balanced for the season. Your body wants water-dense foods like cucumber, summer squash, fruits, lettuce, and greens.
3. Stay Hydrated
I know you’ve heard this before, but in the warmer months it’s even more important that you are drinking plenty of water and staying away from sugary and caffeinated beverages. Keep in mind that you can get a lot of hydration from your food, so eating high-water content food helps your cells stay hydrated as well.
4. Keep It Simple
Summer is a great time to simplify your diet. There is nothing wrong with having a simple meal of quinoa, steamed greens, and beans, eating a huge raw salad by itself, or having a smoothie for breakfast. The less energy you expend making gourmet meals the more energy you will have to keep you going in the heat. Also, you won’t be working up a sweat in the kitchen!
5. Lay Off the Animal Foods
If you aren’t already totally plant-based (vegan) summer is the best time to make the plunge! Or if you are vegetarian, now is a good time to dump the dairy. Animal foods are known for their warming effects on the body. One thing I noticed after going vegan is I don’t sweat as much and I don’t get so aggravated by the heat of the summer. Animal foods are so much work for our bodies and digestive systems to process, they literally steal your energy away.
And with all that being said, have a blast and wear lots of sunscreen.
Here are two cooling soups that are just perfect for summer. When hot weather hits I crave chilled blended soups like nobody’s business. The ingredients for your cold soup need not be all raw to make a delicious soup. Cooked soups can be made into chilled soups, or the soup can be made up of mostly raw foods like the Thai-influenced Mango Spiced Soup below. Blended soups are a great way to sneak in a lot of fruits and veggies, though this soup is more simple with a touch of Thai influence.
Chilled Mango Spiced Soup — Makes 3 to 4 servings
(gluten-free, soy-free, no-oil, under 45 minutes)
I’ve traveled all over Southeast Asia, spending most my time in Thailand. This soup reminds me of the flavors you can find there and takes me back every time I have it!
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1 cup water
1 cup chopped yellow mango
1 cup chopped Hothouse cucumber, peeled
1/4 cup chopped red onion
Small handful cilantro, and some for garnish
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander
Sea salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until no chunks remain and soup is smooth and creamy. Season to taste. If needed chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro.
Pineapple-Cucumber Gazpacho–Makes 3 to 5 servings
(raw, gluten-free, no-oil, under 45 minutes)
Featured in Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet
I used to have a soup like this in the summer at a local café. That version had too much raw onion, so I made my own with the perfect amount. Very simple to make, this is a soup you’ll love all summer long.
2 English cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons tamari
1 cup cilantro
1 can (29 ounces) pineapple with juice (or 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple with 1 cup water)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Pineapple rings, for garnish (optional)
Blend all ingredients in a blender until no chunks remain. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Chill for at least 15 minutes before serving. Decorate with pineapple rings.
For a kick, add 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño and fresh mint.