I had a really great demo at Whole Foods last night. I try to give one free class a month to meet new people and open up more minds to a healthy plant-based diet. This class was called Summer in The Raw, which featured 3 delicious raw vegan recipes; my very own Cheezy Kale Salad and Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse, and a soup recipe from my friend Ani Phyo’s new book, Ani’s Raw Food Essentials. I don’t promote a high raw diet, but with warm weather approaching it made sense to give a raw food uncooking demo. It’s my opinion that a 100% raw food diet is not healthy or sustainable for most people. To combat certain health conditions I think it can be great. A high raw diet can be used as a tool or stepping stone for greater health, but from a holistic point of view it’s too cooling and unbalanced for large periods of time.
That being said, in the warmer months it makes sense to eat more cooling foods. Intuitively our bodies want water dense foods in the heat of the summer to cool us off and give us more hydration. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat raw all Summer. Here are some tips on how to cook seasonally and get the most out of your diet during warmer months.
1. Eat Organic, Local, Seasonal Foods
For the health of the planet and to keep your body in balance with your surrounding environment, it’s best to eat as much local, organic, seasonally grown produce as possible. In the Summer this should be easy because no matter where you live you should have access to local (within a 300 mile radius) food via your local natural food store, farmer’s market or CSA.
Foods that Support You in Summer:
Grains: Corn, maize, amaranth, quinoa, millet, soba noodles
Vegetables: Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Bitter greens like Kale, Collards, Arugula, Mustard, Yellow Squash & Zucchini, Sprouts, Fresh Herbs, Beets, Mushrooms, Cauliflower
Beans and Pulses: red lentils, chickpeas, mung beans
Fruits: apricot, guava, strawberry and other berries, persimmon, avocado, melons
2. Use Cooling Cooking Methods for Spring/Summer
Use lighter cooking methods in warmer months like steaming, blanching, water saute, raw or chilled soups, raw salads, and even lightly grilled is good for summer. Make quick-cooking grains and legumes like the ones listed above. Having noodles or cracked-grains like couscous, polenta, and bulgur can be great for summer too. Intuitively, your body doesn’t crave baked foods, oil saute, or longer cooked meals in the Summer because those aren’t balanced for the season. Your body wants water-dense foods like cucumber, summer squash, fruits, lettuce, and greens.
3. Stay Hydrated
I know you’ve heard this before, but in the warmer months it’s even more important that you are drinking plenty of water and staying away from sugary and caffeinated beverages. Keep in mind that you can get a lot of hydration from your food, so eating high-water content food helps your cells stay hydrated as well.
4. Keep It Simple
Summer is a great time to simplify your diet. There is nothing wrong with having a simple meal of quinoa, steamed greens, and beans, eating a huge raw salad by itself, or having a smoothie for breakfast. The less energy you expend making gourmet meals the more energy you will have to keep you going in the heat. Also, you won’t be working up a sweat in the kitchen! 🙂
5. Lay Off the Animal Foods
If you aren’t already totally plant-based (vegan) Summer is the best time to make the plunge! Or if you are vegetarian, now is a good time to dump the dairy. Animal foods are known for their warming effects on the body. One thing I noticed after going vegan is I don’t sweat as much and I don’t get so aggravated by the heat of the summer. Animal foods are so much work for our bodies and digestive systems to process, they literally steal your energy away.
And with all that being said, have a blast and wear lots of sunscreen 🙂