Summer is here! that means you get to wear our shorts, summer dresses, sandals and you can be outside as much as possible, Hurray! But if you are not too crazy about this season because of your size do yourself a huge favor and read this article a few times. Why? Because maybe you need a summer makeover…But this probably not the kind of makeover you are thinking about. So do something now my friend, stop criticizing yourself right now and don’t pick up a single fashion magazine this entire season (because I’m not talking about fashion here). So what is there to “Make over”? Your summer foods! Please forget what you thought were summer foods and embark on a change to redesign your body, your health and your mind this summer.
This season is clearly the hottest of the year, so why are we obsessed with eating hot, heavy and unhealthy foods? Let’s think about a typical summer barbecue: Hamburgers, hot dogs, and the like (probably made with non organic beef loaded with hormones and antibiotics), burger or hot dog buns made with white flour that is as good as white sugar, macaroni or potato salad (I’d like to remove the word salad from these dishes!), chips straight from the bag with all the chemicals involved, maybe a GMO corn smothered in butter (if not a trans fat spread!) and fake sliced cheese, sodas and bottled “fruit” juices or energy drinks. If we are lucky, we’ll have a fruit salad or at least lettuce and tomato for the sandwiches. What do you think is happening to your body after such a meal? Maybe if you tune in with the qualities of summer you’ll be able to see the disparity. Let me explain.
According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, summer is a time to eat cooling and naturally sweeter foods. The quality of heat and dryness known as Pita is specially aggravated otherwise. If people don’t follow such advice then signs of imbalances show. This is specially true if you are naturally a “Pita person” (your body temperature feels hot most of the time, you have a quick mind, a hot temper and move fast among other qualities) For those of you prone “getting too hot” these imbalance symptoms get worst during the summer: heart burn, indigestion, acid reflux, skin rashes, acne, eczema, psoriasis, headaches, join pain, general irritability and stress. If you are nodding your head now, the importance of eating with the seasons can be an answer to all these signs. Your body is talking. Can you hear it say “Please cool me down!”
Summer foods are light, refreshing and full of water and nutrients. Your market is now full of tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, berries, citrus fruit, green beans, leafy green, okra, peppers, watermelon, avocado, mangoes and corn. This is the food mother earth intended for us to eat. During the hot months our body requires specific nutrients to keep us energized and hydrated. It also needs lighter foods to do well in the midst of the increased activity. Phytonutrients are needed for cellular renewal and repair during the active months of summer; and let’s face it, you need to be lighter, more agile and energized to be able to play outside with your kids or your friends without feeling “overheated or in pain”
So let’s look back at that menu. What could a mindful, sensible person serve on a summer day using seasonal foods? Start by making huge salads, not just one, but two or three! Make one green salad, one bean salad and maybe a whole grain salad with something like quinoa or wild rice. Offer things like a platter of grilled summer veggies with olive oil and herbs, humus and whole grain, or spouted bread, so your guests can build their own sandwich. Make guacamole and serve it with raw veggies and make sure the fruit salad is loaded with melons, berries and the most hydrating fruits (my favorite thing is adding mint leaves, Himalayan salt & lemon juice to a fruit salad, try it!). If you must eat meat keep that almost as a garnish or under 20% of the menu. Meats are very heating foods. Chose organic, grass fed beef or hormone & antibiotic free chicken to grill. Skip the mystery hot dog meat and spend a bit more money to buy some quality artisan sausages and serve them the Old world way with mustard and raw sauerkraut (the last thing will help your digestion) My last suggestion is not to smother these meats with BBQ sauce. Instead, use spices and herbs to marinate your meats and leave the BBQ sauce out as a choice for your guests along with bowls of fresh salsa or chimichurri to try an natural and an international flair.
Make sure you have plenty of water for everyone, specially if you are serving alcohol. And instead of sodas, make lemonade and iced tea and add berries or cucumbers to them for a twist…people will love it and it looks beautiful too! Skip the sugary deserts and instead freeze some cubed watermelon, put it in a high-speed blender with ice, add stevia and you’ll have a home made slushy!
So there you are! The best summer makeover ever. If you are overwhelmed with these many changes just pick 2 or 3 things and start there. Many of these things don’t require cooking, just assembling, and you can make them a day ahead. Make sure to ask your family and friends for help and communicate your intention to improve your health so they can support you.
This is what summer foods are about: freshness, lightness and vitality…why? because that is what you want for yourself. If you eat dull, heavy and processed foods you will feel and look like that. So when you plan your next summer meal ask yourself: What are the qualities that this food is bringing to my life? And let the honest answer guide you