Getting hot out there

Summer is here in full force, and it’s hot out there! We often opt for ice-cream or a milk shake to cool down, but contrary to general belief, these things don't actually work that way. It might feel cooling as we have them, but the body actually spends a lot of energy and therefore produces heat to digest the high fat, carbohydrate and protein content. Who would’ve thought, right?

Mother Nature is truly amazing and knows exactly what she’s doing! During the hot summer months, our bodies crave less dense food because we get so much energy from being outside in the fresh air and sunshine. To compensate, nature provides cooling foods like melon, cucumber, and pineapple that can be eaten raw.

Have you noticed that in summer we naturally desire more fresh foods? What is it about these foods that make us crave them? Fresh, raw foods have a naturally cooling effect on the body. The lightness, high water, fiber, and vitamin content act as our internal cooling system during these warm summer months.

There is no better season than summer to have fun creating your own fresh, tasty, and creative food combinations. For cooling summer tricks, try increasing your intake of raw foods and incorporating them as part of your diet. Here are my favorite ways to add more cooling foods to my diet.

Salsa. A wonderful way to add flavor and color to your summer meals. You can use a traditional tomato based salsa, or try my pineapple mint salsa for your next cookout. It goes really well with grilled chicken and fish! Pineapples are packed with vitamin C and contain Bromelain, an enzyme that fights inflammation. Checkout this seasonal fruit and veggie calendar, so beautiful and helps keep us on track.

Infused water. Our body craves hydration during the summer months, and the best way to achieve it is to consume adequate amounts of water. Let’s make it fun and delicious by adding sliced fruit and veggies. My favorite combinations are: cucumber with mint, and raspberry with lemon. The sky’s the limit, so get your creative juices flowing! I have a whole Pinterest Board with wonderful ideas!

Salads. The perfect cooling meal. Choose green leafy vegetables, they are easy to digest and hydrating; toss in sliced, diced or grated veggies, then add a protein such as nuts, seeds, beans, fish, shrimp, meat or poultry. Dress it up with olive oil, vinegar, lemon/lime juice, salt and pepper. Try my delicious quinoa tabouleh salad, it perfectly complements salmon. (Tip: I'm a fan of bagged arugula, for the freshest salad bag go for the flattest. When greens are packed the air is sucked out and as they age they release gases which make the bag puffier.)

Frozen fruit. This is a refreshing and excellent way to cool down! Some fruits don’t need to be cut up; you can just freeze them whole, like berries and grapes. Other fruits require some work, like watermelon and orange. My son loves frozen watermelon! Frozen fruits are also a great way to keep alcoholic drinks chilled without watering them down; try frozen grapes in wine, and frozen lemon slices in gin and tonic.

Vegetable noodles. I’m in love with my spiralizer… it makes everything more fun! The mini vegetable 2 in 1 slicer/ spiralizer is very handy and perfect for zucchini noodles, and I recently got the spiralizer tri-blade vegetable slicer and I love it as it allows you to experiment with more veggies like sweet potatoes. You can make vegetable noodles from zucchini carrots, beets, cucumber and even potatoes. This can help make salads and meals more fun! Try my zesty lobster zoodles. They are made from zucchini noodles, delicious and packed with water.

Add some heat. Crazy but true! Adding some heat to your diet allows the body to sweat, which in turn cools it down. Water must evaporate to cool down so don't wipe your sweat! Drink a hot tea or coffee, or add a dash of red pepper flakes to your avocado toast at breakfast, some jalapenos to lunch, or some chili peppers to your main at dinner.

Summer is a great opportunity to try a new fruits or vegetables from your market. What are some creative flavors you’ve never tried before? Whatever you choose, have fun with your food and stay cool. Happy summer!

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