When it’s so hot you can literally feel yourself sapping under the intense summer sun, it’s difficult to know exactly what to eat as some foods just seem to act like internal space heaters but others can actually help you cool down and act like your personal, internal air-conditioning unit.
One of those wonderful ingredients is watermelon and no day at the beach should be complete without it. Cool watermelons quench even the most intense thirst and are abundant throughout the summer months. A simple slice offers a superb, refreshing experience. They are low in calories and high in water content (95 percent), making them an extremely cooling fruit. Cucumbers are also incredibly hydrating, and staying adequately hydrated during the hotter months is crucial. Cucumbers are one of those special foods that have more uses than just culinary. A quick search turns up really useful things like firming up cellulite on skin, soothing dry, tired eyes, relieving sunburn and curing a hangover. I’m not sure if any of that is really true but what I do know for sure that in the kitchen, the wonderful crunchy texture and the refreshing cleanness of cucumber is a joy to work with, especially in summer as it is about 20% naturally cooler than other vegetables. Fresh peaches are another cool, seasonal choice. Not only are they delicious at this time of year, but they also contain vitamins A and C, which promote healthy skin, and at 35-50 calories a pop, they make the perfect diet-friendly snack.
Other more unsuspecting cooling foods include green leaves such as spinach, kale and romaine lettuce as they have a high water content and they are easy to digest. This means your body doesn’t have to work as hard, which saves you energy and keeps you cool. Apparently sea vegetables are also another interesting choice. Kombu, nori, wakame, arame, and sea palm are all superb sea vegetables to include in your daily summer fare. They are high in calcium, phosphorous, trace minerals and vitamins and have a cool energetic quality to them. Mushrooms, avocados, coconuts, red fruits and melons are also fantastic cooling foods to fight the hot summer sun.
If you want to stay cool avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat and apparently, eating spicy food can also help. Although this may be the last thing you fancy in hot weather…curries and chillies can stimulate heat receptors in the mouth, enhance circulation and cause sweating, which cools the body down. For me, the best advice I would offer is to eat small meals and eat more often. The larger the meal, the more metabolic heat your body creates breaking down the food. Also, drink plenty water or cooling juices and make sure you stay well hydrated. If that fails, you run your wrists under a cold tap for five seconds every couple of hours as it helps to cool the blood and if it becomes really unbearable…. come and hang out in my walk-in fridge for a few minutes!
WATERMELON AND CUCUMBER AGUA FRESCA
½ small watermelon, peeled, deseeded & chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled, deseeded & chopped
1tbsp clear honey
Juice of 3 limes
10 leaves of fresh mint
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve in tall glasses with crushed ice cubes and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
Marc Fosh – Michelin Star Chef