I figured I would squeeze a "Health Tidbit" here to speak briefly of summer. Summer, is the season of Pitta in Ayurveda, where the qualities of either hot/dry or hot/moist (humidity) express themselves (based on geographic location.) These are the qualities that can increase heat naturally in the body and cause aggravation, especially if there is already a tendency towards having a lot of heat this time of year. Ayurveda says that when it is hot and dry, then sweet and watery foods are better. When it is hot and moist (humidity), then sweet and water foods, with some astringent tastes and mild diaphoretic/diuretic (depending on constitution) actions, are great to bring balance.
The digestive system becomes centrifugal, which means that the blood flow isn't focused so much centrally as it is during the other months since the body works to maintain the core body heat. What happens as per this centrifugal force is that the blood circulates with the intention towards the extremities. When the blood is focused towards the digestive system this is more about the centripetal force. The circulation of the body moves the heat outwardly so that the body doesn't keep the core so heated in an attempt to cool itself. The sweating mechanism helps the body to not only rid the body of toxins but to also thermoregulate itself.
This is one of the main and fundamental reasons why the intake of cold/frozen or anything icy is considered contraindicated, as the intake of cold causes the heat to trap within the core of the body, then causing the body to feel hotter. You would think the opposite happens by satisfying the desire to drink something cold to cool down, when in fact it is doing something completely opposite. This is why in some cultures that they drink hot soups and teas because this induces not only sweating to cool down but also causes the body to release heat. Amazing! (view HERE for more on the perils of ice/cold)
During this time of year, weight loss (especially for the Kapha types) becomes easier as the heat of the sun causes the lymphatic to drain, the sweating to remove impurities and support digestion. It is also important to note how the digestive system is generally based on heating and that fasting between meals supports optimization and utilization of nutrition. You see, fasting between meals is a sure way to burn up unnecessary fat. The body knows when to stop so don't worry if weight starts to drop. (unless you're more of the Vata or Pitta type and already on the lower side of weight) Allowing the blood sugar to drop between meals forces the body to convert fat to usable glucose which stabilizes the blood sugar again. Next time you have that "craving", don't take the lazy route and put something in your mouth. Resist the urge and drink some tea (room temp or on the warmer side.) The blood sugar should stabilize and your craving should subside. If the craving persists, you must ask yourself: 1) what was the quality of your sleep? 2) were my meals of breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner adequately chewed and complete with protein, carbs, fats (oils such as ghee, coconut, olive and flaxseed) and vegetables? 3) are you hydrated enough?
Any one of these three can potentially cause the body to have cravings for sweets and coffee/caffeine for boosts of energy. When these are in check, it becomes easier to gauge what the craving is really about and what you end up usually left with is that the body is just craving because of the emotional component and stress relationship. This is especially the time to encourage the utmost possible discipline and drink some tea so that the body can do its thing and burn fat for fuel.
As for the tastes that help to support balancing our digestive systems during the summer, bitters, astringents, and sweet are the tastes that Ayurveda favors this time of year. Nature encourages this as well. Just look around at what the produce consists of. Greens, veggies, fruits. They are sweet, water, bitter and some astringent. Nature knows that as it gets hot out we don't really want to spend time cooking over a hot stove but be outside. Grilling is a good option and eating the fresh vegetation is a sure way of taking in vast vitamins/minerals naturally this time of year. As we do this, some of this nutritional information gets stored in the body for later use. Amazing isn't it?!
That being said, below is a simple recipe for this month. You can also view last month's recipe QUINOA WITH A PESTO TWIST for another example. Additionally, you can go to my general RECIPES page and scroll down to past recipes for the summer.
There is also an upcoming cooking class pertaining to summer recipes. Check out the link HERE and register ASAP.
Without further a due, here is this month's simple recipe:
1 tsp. of rose water (preferably from Heritage Stores)
12 oz. of filtered water
4 oz. a mango juice (preferably fresh)
1/4 lime squeezed in
pinch of cardamom powder
Take a 16-ounce glass and add all ingredients. Stir. Enjoy! It is quite refreshing and tasty. Cooling too without stressing the digestive system.
Optional: it may be too cooling for Kapha types, therefore, adding a pinch of cinnamon can be a nice touch. Also, you can substitute mango juice and water, and simply replace these liquids with coconut water. This is another nice variation. The key ingredient is the rose water. It's subtle, delicate and yet...right there.