Stay Cool in Hot Times

Jun 30, 2015

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The summer solstice was last week, June 21.  That’s the day when the daylight hours are the longest and the night is shortest.  From here on out, the days are getting shorter until we reach the winter solstice (December 21).  But before the days get cold and dark, we have a lot of sunshine and heat ahead.

The past few days here in DC have been unseasonably cool – not unwelcome, though Saturday I taught two workshops outdoors in the chilly rain, which was pretty bizarre for late June!

Since the heat and humidity will no doubt return, so I’ve compiled sometips for staying cool, as well as some of my favorite new recipes that you might consider for July 4 or other summer gatherings.

And for those of you in DC, did you know about our pretty fantastic network of public pools?  Error! Hyperlink reference not valid..

Wishing you much joy and summer frolicking,
Top Ten: Ideas To Stay Cool

1. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables.  Proteins and fats (of the animal-based variety) are warming.  Note that native Eskimos traditionally survived on a diet that was 80% whale blubber – not only was Alaska not abundant in vegetables during the winter months, but they needed the heat generated by a high-fat diet to survive.  It worked really well for them.  So if you’re living in a warmer climate, consider tailoring your diet to the seasons.  More fruits and vegetables during summer harvest season

2. Eat More Raw Foods.  Eat more uncooked fruits and vegetables.  Raw foods are more cooling than cooked foods.  You don’t need to hop onto a raw diet bandwagon; you can simply eat a few more salads.

3. Blend up a Smoothie.  Another raw option, with cooling fruits.  I love this “Smoothieology” handoutthat helps keep your smoothie balanced – not too sugary or high-glycemic.

4. Make Juice.  Fresh juice is nutrient-dense and can be very healing and alkalinizing for the body.  Juice doesn’t have fiber as smoothies do, however, so be sure to eat the rest of your macronutrients as well (that’s protein, healthy fats, and some whole vegetables.  Consider the salad suggested above, or maybe some berries with nut butter?)  The down-side of fresh juice is that you do need a juicer to make it.  Pasteurized, store-bought juice is not the same thing.

5. Stay Hydrated.  Drink your water – aim for 8 cups per day at least. If you feel like your water runs right through you, try these two things: (a)separate your water from your coffee, by at least 20 minutes; (b)add a pinch of sea salt to your water – not enough to taste.  It must be sea salt (a whole salt), not refined table salt.  This helps balance your electrolytes.  If you hate water, keep reading.

6. Drink Cucumber Water.  So cooling, so easy!!  Find a cucumber.  Slice it.  Add water.  Let it soak for a bit, then drink.  Amazing.

7. Drink Mint tea.  Peppermint, spearmint, and applemint are cooling (whereas most culinary herbs are warming).  You can make sun tea with fresh herbs – “muddle” the herbs a bit (mash them up like you would for a mojito), cover with water, cover the container loosely, and place it in the sun for 4 hours or so.  Strain and drink. Or, pour boiling water over the herbs, let them steep for 5 minutes, strain, pour over ice, and drink.

8. Make a Sage spritzer.  Sage is cooling and drying.  Get your hands on some sage essential oil, and a small spritzer bottle.  Put a few drops of sage essential oil, a few drops of any other essential oils you like (peppermint? lavender?), add water to fill, shake, and spritz.  I have a fewLeafyhead Cool Down spritzers available, though they’re not listed in my Etsy shop.  Email me if you need one!

9. Use Cooling Breath, sheetali pranayama In Sanskrit, Sheetalimeans cooling, and Pranayamameans breath.  Here’s a video on how to cool downby breathing through your rolled tongue.

10.  Forward Fold.  Many yoga poses are heating, but forward folds are considered cooling.  Wind down by bending forward, either sitting or standing.  With your inhale, feel the ribs in the back of your body expand.  With your exhale, allow the body to melt into the fold.  Feel free to bend your knees as much as you like.  Possibly, a LOT.  Let it be gentle.  Gentleness is cooling.  Fierceness is heating.

Recipe: Greek Salad Skewers

I made these for my summer solstice gathering.  Easy, attractive, and tasty – with no salad bowls or forks to wash.

– 1 cucumber
– sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
– 1 block of feta cheese cut into small rectangles
– pitted kalamata olives, halved
– cherry tomatoes halved (or grape tomatoes)
– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– red wine or balsamic vinegar
– herbs to taste, fresh or dried: oregano, thyme, basil

Cut 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices from the cucumber and then quarter each slice.
Set the cucumber pieces on a large serving platter and season with 1/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper.
Top each with a piece of feta and then an olive half.
Stab a toothpick through a tomato half and then thread through one of the cucumber stacks, pushing the toothpick down to secure it.
Mix or shake together olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.  Drizzle the dressing over the skewers.

Recipe: Gazpacho Verde
if you don’t have nasturtiums or cress, don’t sweat it – consider a dash of lemon juice instead!.

From The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden by David Hirsch
Serves 4 to 6

8 cups water
2 large bunches of fresh spinach (about 8 ounces), with large stems removed, well rinsed and drained
½ cup loosely packed arugula leaves
3 scallions, white and green parts, roughly chopped

8 fresh nasturtium leaves OR 2 tablespoons minced fresh garden cress leaves
¼ cup fresh loosely packed parsley leaves
¼ cup fresh loosely packed dill leaves
1 cucumber, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 cups vegetable stock
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 scallion, white and green parts, finely chopped
½ cucumber, seeded if mature, finely diced

For garnish, choose one:
Thinly sliced lime; nasturtium or chive blossoms; cherry tomato halves; croutons

Bring the water to a boil.  Add the spinach, arugula, and 3 scallions.
Cook until the spinach begins to wilt, not more than a minute or so.  Drain.
In a food processor or blender, puree until smooth the remaining greens, the 1 cucumber, olive oil, garlic, lime juice, vegetable stock, salt, and pepper.
Add the chopped scallion and diced cucumber to the blended soup.
Chill and serve with one of the recommended garnishes.

Recipe: Jackfruit “Pulled Pork” Sandwiches

Full disclosure: I haven’t made this yet – but I’m going to, on July 4. So intrigued by jack fruit!
I bought mine online here.

From Blissful Basil

Serves: 4

1 can green, young jackfruit in water or brine
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon smoke salt (optional)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
? teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup barbeque sauce
¼ cup water
4 buns (whole wheat, gluten-free, or your favorite)

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender (5-7 minutes).
Drain and rinse the jackfruit in a strainer. Cut the core of the jackfruit (the triangular tip) from the flesh and discard the core.
Mix chili powder, cumin, smoke salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Add in the jackfruit flesh and toss to coat.
Add seasoned jackfruit to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
Whisk the barbeque sauce and water together. Pour into the skillet with the jackfruit. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
While the jackfruit simmers, toast the buns in a toaster.
Remove the lid from the skillet and shred the jackfruit with a fork. Continue to simmer with the lid off for 5-10 minutes or until the barbeque sauce is reduced.

NOTE: you can either enjoy the “pulled pork” as is OR spread it on a baking pan and bake it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Readers have reported that this makes the texture more “pork” like.
Fill each of the buns with a mound of jackfruit and top with garnishes of choice (ideas: pickled red onions, cilantro, parsley, etc).