A major aspect for optimum health is maintaining balance and part of this balance depends on what we consume at certain times of the year. During summer months, we should focus on consuming cooler foods. Heavy foods with high-fat content may be eaten in the summer, but limited in quantity. Whereas salads, vegetables and fruits with high water content and sprouts are ideal. You should eat these foods as freshly prepared as possible. Such simple adjustments will help with our overall health and cool our bodies naturally.
Some foods with high water content and cooling properties include apples, berries (strawberry, cherries etc), pears, plums, water chestnut (singhara), melons, cucumber. Barley, wheat, buckwheat, oats, chicken, most fish, brinjal, beetroot, onion, lemon, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, lettuce, millets, soybean, and mung beans are among the foods known to possess cooling properties. Although these foods offer distinct cooling effects, various other items hold a neutral status and can be consumed throughout the year. Fruits are considered as natural thirst quenchers. Intake of processed foods, oily stuff and chemical ‘thirst quenchers’ such as soft drinks, only increases thirst.
Along with taking these foods, we should also keep ourselves hydrated throughout these hot summer months. Water intake should be a minimum of 10-12 glasses in a day. Apart from water, you should consume other liquids that can help restore lost electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride), particularly after engaging in strenuous physical activity.
Limit the consumption of drinks containing caffeine since they have a tendency to deplete our bodies of essential water reserves. Just because the drink is cold and it quenches our thirst but it does not cool our body. Iced water and carbonated beverages are one of the largest contributors to a weakened digestion causing gas, bloating and lethargy after their consumption. Our bodies actually absorb room temperature fluids more efficiently.
A few nutritious thirst quenchers which can be incorporated into our diet during hot summer months are jaljeera, aam panna, nimbu pani, etc. recipes of which are given below for your reference.
1. Jal Jeera (Serves 6)
Ingredients: Tamarind (seedless) – 30g, Mint leaves (crushed) – 1 T, Lemon- 1, Ginger- 1” piece, Black Salt- ¼ t, Water- 3 cups, Salt- 1 T, Sugar- 1 T. Method: Soak tamarind in about 1 cup water for three hours. Rub it with fingers, and then add the remaining water and strain. Add crushed ginger, mint leaves, salt, black salt and sugar. Mix well and leave for two hours. Add lemon juice and sieve. Adjust water, chill and serve.
2. Mintade (Serves 2)
Ingredients: Water- 1½ cup, Mint- 6 stems, Sugar- 1 T, Lemon juice- 1 T. Method: Boil water and dissolve sugar in it. Clean and wash mint, chop along with stems and put in boiling water. Boil for five minutes, remove from heat and cool. Add lemon juice. Keep covered and chill. Strain and add water.
3. Panna (Serves 2)
Ingredients: Raw mango- 1 (100 g), Sugar – 1 T, Black pepper powder- Pinch, Black salt- Pinch, Water- 180 ml, Salt- ½ t, Zeera (powdered, roasted)- ¼ t, Mint Leaves- a few. Method: Boil mango till soft. Let it cool, soften it by rolling in palms and squeeze out the pulp in water. Add sugar and seasoning, blend well till mixed. Strain. Chill and serve garnished with chopped mint leaves.
P.S.: To avoid sugar in this preparation you can use half raw mango pulp and half ripe mango pulp.
4. Coco pine Cooler (Serves 1)
Ingredients: Coconut water (green coconut) – 60 ml, Pineapple juice- 60 ml, Pineapple cubes- a few, Sugar (powder) – 1 t (optional). Method: Mix coconut water, pineapple juice and sugar in a jug and keep in a refrigerator. At the time of serving, adjust water and blend in a blender till smooth. Garnish with pineapple pieces.
These drinks not only will cool your body naturally but also will provide essential nutrients. Enjoy your foods and drinks but be judicious in choosing them according to the prevailing season.
Note: T: tablespoon, t: teaspoon.