Raw and Cooling Salads

coolingsaladWhy is it that in the summer we naturally crave more fresh and raw foods? These foods have a cooling effect on the body. The lightness and high water, fiber and vitamin content work together to act as our internal air conditioning during these warm months. At this time of year we also need less dense, high-energy food because we get so much energy from being outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
There is no better season than summer to have fun creating your own fresh, tasty, creative salad combinations. By simply tossing together several of your favorite raw veggies, naked or with a light dressing, you have a perfect meal for a hot summer’s day.

  • Try your favorite leafy lettuce with various sliced, diced or grated veggies. The possible combinations are endless.
  • Fresh herbs are a wonderful option to mix in, as they are packed full of flavor.
  • Experiment with adding diverse forms of protein to your salads, such as nuts,
    seeds, beans, tofu, fish or poultry.
  • Pick up a light and healthy dressing at your local health food store, or mix up something easy, like lemon juice, black pepper and olive oil.

This is a great opportunity to try a new vegetable from your market. What are some creative flavors you’ve never tried before? Fennel and mint? Daikon radish and arugula? Summer squash with watercress? Whatever you choose, have fun with your food and stay cool. Happy summer!

Food Focus: Fruit

A repost from June 2013. It’s a great reminder as local, colorful and organic fruits start to hit the grocery store shelves.

A healthy lifestyle is the key to longevity, optimum weight, abundant energy and balance. By using fruit to satisfy our taste for sweetness, we can leave behind the use of chemical, processed and refined sweeteners. Fruits are easy to digest, are cleansing and cooling and are great for those who are overstressed and overheated from excessive mental strain or hot climates. Fruits are filled with fiber and liver stimulants, which act as natural, gentle laxatives. Whenever possible, buy fresh, locally grown fruit as opposed to imported fruits shipped from far-off places. This keeps you eating in season, and more in harmony with your environment and climate.

Eating raw fruit in summer months is highly cooling, while baking it in the winter months neutralizes the cooling effect. Fruit in the form of juice is a great choice for cleansing the body, but be aware that juice rapidly raises blood sugar levels, leading to an energy crash soon after. Frozen, whole, puréed or juiced fruit can make great summertime cool-down treats. Try frozen grapes, banana-coconut smoothie popsicles or lime juice ice-cubes in iced tea!

Whether you are having fresh fruit for a light early morning breakfast, a midday snack or evening treat, enjoy nature’s sweetness and whenever possible buy organic. Here are a few summer fruits and their health benefits:

Apricots: Great for lung conditions and asthma; used to help treat anemia due to their high copper and cobalt content.

Bananas: Help to lubricate the intestines, treat ulcers, detoxify the body and manage sugar cravings; are rich in potassium (which helps hypertension).

Cherries: Slightly warming in nature; increase overall body energy, remedy arthritis and rheumatism and are rich in iron, which improves the blood.

Grapefruits: Treat poor digestion, increase appetite during pregnancy, alleviate intestinal gas and reduce mucus conditions of the lungs.

Papayas: Tone the stomach, act as digestive aid, moisten the lungs and alleviate coughing; contain carpaine, an anti-tumor compound.

Raspberries: Benefit the liver and kidneys, cleanse blood of toxins, regulate menstrual cycles, treat anemia and can promote labor at childbirth.

Food Focus: Sprouts

In the spring season, seeds flaunt their vitality and energy by sprouting. Sprouts of all varieties contain the building blocks of life in the form of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and simple sugars. In their early growth state, sprouts are very easy to digest, allowing our bodies to access many wonderful nutrients. Recent research by the American Cancer Society has backed what holistic nutrition has known for years: that sprouts contain anti-cancer properties, high levels of active antioxidants, concentrated amounts of phytochemicals and significant amounts of vitamins A, C and D.

In their raw form, sprouts have a cooling effect on the body, and therefore are best consumed in warm weather or by robust, warm body types. Those who tend to feel cool can try steaming sprouts or adding them to warm dishes such as stir-fries and soups, to reduce the cooling effect. There is a wide variety of edible and delicious sprouts, each with a different texture and flavor: alfalfa, mung bean, lentil, radish, clover, sunflower, broccoli, garbanzo and adzuki.

Here are some great ways to serve up sprouts:

· Add to salads.

· Combine with other vegetables in wraps, roll-ups or stir-fries.

· Use as garnish on top of soups, stews, omelets or scrambled eggs.

· Add to rice or whole-grain dishes.

· Use in sandwiches instead of lettuce.

Spring has arrived! Eat sprouts and feel alive!