So guys, I’m feeling pretty hot and bothered lately. Don’t worry, it’s only because of the hot summer weather that seems to have settled in. Maybe I’m just getting cranky because I don’t have AC at home or at work; luckily, I do have windows!
I don’t know about you but temperatures in the mid-20s are about the hottest I can handle. When it’s hotter than that, you’ll find me in the shade, wearing a big goofy sun hat, cradling a huge pitcher of ice cold Lazy Girl’s Ginger Lemonade, maybe even cooling off with a fan in my face or my feet in the neighbour’s kiddie pool.
If you’re craving a cool treat, check out some of my top foods to keep us naturally hydrated when summer makes everyday life (and the kitchen) too hot to handle.
Cucumbers are one of the classic cooling foods at about 96% water. They are low-calorie, a mild diuretic and provide an optimal balance of sodium and potassium to help keep us hydrated as well as or better than pure water!
Great fresh in salads, with a veggie-based dip, or pickled. Cucumbers are heavily sprayed so buy organic whenever possible. Eat the skin for an extra source of silicon and chlorophyll.
Bonus tip: Have too many cucumbers in your garden or CSA basket? Freeze them to make tasty and instantly refreshing ice cubes, or use them on your eyes to reduce puffiness.
Try cucumbers in my Cool as a Cucumber Smoothie!
Radishes are about 95% water and still in season around here. Like other veg, they’re high in potassium, helping keep blood pressure low. They also have a cleansing effect on the liver, gallbladder and blood, particularly when used as part of a detox.
Bonus tip: Their peppery bite livens up basic salads and coleslaw but if you find them too spicy for your liking, try roasting them. They remain crisp but become sweeter and milder when cooked.
Try quick pickling them! Pickled radishes are crisp, spicy and vinegary and fabulous added to everything from tacos to tarts. Visit my CSA round-up for a link to my favourite Quick, Pickled Radishes recipe.
Spinach, high in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin (crucial for eye health and a support for macular degeneration), it also provides ample amounts of vitamin K, key for bone and teeth health. Eating spinach cooked or with a bit of citrus like lemon or orange juice helps our bodies absorb this form of plant-based iron.
At about 90% water, spinach is pretty popular on salads, but have you ever tried in a smoothie? It’s one of the mildest greens (meaning most tasty and palatable). I enjoy it with mint, banana, lime, matcha green tea (extra energy boost) or other foods that won’t change the colour. (Personal note: I don’t usually add red fruits because red + green often turns brown… not so pretty).
Bonus tip: Spinach freezes well and can be used in spinach dips, lasagna filling or scrambled eggs. I love freezing spinach in ice cubes for easy portioning.
Try it in my Lean, Mean, Peaches & Green Smoothie.
Tomatoes are finally coming into season around here and I couldn’t be more excited! About 94% water, tomatoes have a million and one uses beyond tomato sauce. They also freeze well for future salad dressings or red and green salsa (salsa verde) dips like this one.
Bonus tip: Try cooking them low and slow! From a culinary perspective, they become even more sweet, tangy and melt-in-your mouth… from a nutritional perspective, cooking tomatoes actually boosts the lycopene content by about 5 times. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that helps protect our cells from oxidative and free radical damage, which can contribute to heart disease, cancer and overall inflammation.
My Sweet & Spicy Tomato Jam recipe is pretty spectacular slathered on sandwiches, as a dip, or even dolloped on soup.
When strawberries are in season around here, I’m eating them for a reason. If you can find local, organic strawberries, you’ve hit the gold mine! Please send me some.
Most strawberries are treated with high amounts of pesticides so buy organic whenever you can.
At about 91% water, rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, strawberries are one of my favourite fruits, for flavour, colour and nutrition.
Bonus tip: Try a sliced strawberry and cucumber salad with a pinch of black pepper. This helps boost the flavour of the berries and pepper contains piperine, which helps boost your ability to absorb the nutrients in any foods you eat it with. As a result, I tend to put black pepper on everything!
Try making my super healthy and easy 20-minute Strawberry Jam.
What’s your favourite way to stay cool and hydrated?
Life is a plate… Eat up!