The other day I was listening to an interview with Divya Alter, an Ayurvedic practitioner. During the interview Divya was talking about the benefits of eating seasonally and she said something that struck me. She said “we all know we have to change our clothes with each season, so why wouldn’t we change our diet?” I thought this was such a great way to think about eating with the seasons!
Eating seasonally is what nature intended. When the weather is cold outside, we dress in layers of sweaters, scarves and jackets and we tend to eat heavier foods like soups, stews and root vegetables. When summer rolls around and the temperature starts to rise, we break out the shorts, sandals and t-shirts and we crave lighter foods like fruits and salads.
The conditions you are exposed to outside affect whether your body is warm, cold, moist or dry. Eating a diet that helps to balance the effects of the weather will in turn help to balance your energy and make healthy eating a sustainable lifestyle choice.
Summer is all about heat and humidity and since our bodies are a reflection of what is happening in nature, you are more likely to accumulate heat within your body during the hot summer months. Signs of too much heat inside your body may be rashes, swelling, indigestion, irritability and headaches. Your body can only do so much to adjust itself to these seasonal changes, but thankfully there are ways that you can use food to enhance your health and stay cool all summer long.
In Ayurveda, it is said that like increases like and opposites balance. Understanding food in terms of taste and their energetic quality will help you to understand this principle and then you can make the best choices for your summer diet.
If like increases like, you definitely don’t want to be eating a lot of hot, spicy food in the summer. So in order to reduce the hot, sharp, oily qualities of summer, you will want to favor foods that are cool, calm and slightly dry. With that thought in mind, I’ve created a simple guide with the tastes/foods to avoid and the ones to favor so you will stay cool even on the hottest summer day.
FOODS TO AVOID
Pungent – spicy foods like ginger, garlic, radishes and chilies
Salty – anything that has excess salt like chips
Sour – grapefruit, sour cream and fermented foods
Hot – eat foods at room temperature and avoid hot spices
Oily – fried foods
FOODS TO FAVOR
Sweet – foods that are naturally sweet such as grapes, stone fruit and melons
Bitter – green beans, zucchini, broccoli, leafy greens
Astringent – spinach, turmeric, beans, apples
Cooling – cucumber, watermelon, fennel, jicama
Light – foods that are easy to digest
This list is by no means complete but hopefully it will give you a place to start.
One of the benefits of eating foods when they are in season is you will be enjoying fruits and vegetables at the peak of freshness. In fact, studies have shown that produce tastes better, is more nutritious and therefore better for you when eaten in season. Just one of the many reasons to shop your local farmers market!!
And what’s in season right now is tomatoes. I love tomatoes this time of year because you can find them in every shape, size and color imaginable! Tomatoes are chock full of nutrients like Vitamin C and Vitamin A which is good for your immunity and Vitamin K which is good for your bones. Tomatoes are also a rich source of lycopene which is an antioxidant that supports your heart health, your vision and is also a powerful cancer fighter.
Another one of my favorite veggies in season right now is summer squash. I LOVE summer squash, especially the patty pan variety. I eat them raw, grilled, sauteed, spiralized…..in other words, I pretty much eat summer squash every day this time of year!! If you have not tried the patty pan squash, they are the bomb!
Adding herbs to your food is a great way to keep things light and fresh. I must admit I don’t always remember to add fresh herbs but when I do, I’m amazed at how they can completely transform a dish.
Now that I have shared a few of my favorite summertime foods, I want to share one of my favorite summertime recipes. With just a few ingredients, this recipe is simple, healthy and tastes like summer on a plate! It makes a great side dish with some grilled salmon or, you can add some garbanzo or white northern beans and make this a complete meal.
So as the temperatures start to rise, allow yourself to settle into this beautiful season of summer. When you begin to adjust your eating habits just as you do your clothes, you will notice how easy it is to find balance not only in your body but in your life.
Enjoy your summer and stay cool 🙂
Tomato Basil and Avocado Salad
* 1 pound multi colored grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
* 2 avocados, diced
* 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
* 1 large patty pan squash, spiralized
* pinch smoked sea salt
1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, avocados and fresh basil. Toss to combine.
2. Place the spiralized squash on a plate. Spoon the tomato mixture on top of the squash and sprinkle with the sea salt.
Optional toppings: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shaved parmesan or mozzarella balls. (I like Violife parmesan which is dairy free and tastes just like the real deal! You can check it out here).