The Summer Six: Cool Foods for a Cool Summer

Summer is Pitta season. Pitta means heat. It’s hot. I presume you’ve noticed?

There are six foods I lean into during the summer that I want to share with you. These are good any time, any day in summer, and any time, any season for summer people (meaning people of pitta constitution).

In fact, these six are so fundamental to Ayurveda and its approach to “hot bodies” that it could be considered the ABCCCD’s of summer!

aloe water photo by monique feil Aloe

The Egyptians referred to aloe as the “plant of immortality” and placed it with the funerary gifts buried with the pharaohs. Not only the Egyptians, but the Chines, Greeks and Romans loved aloe, too. It is traditionally used to heal wounds, relieve itching and swelling, and is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

The leaves of Aloe Vera are made up of a clear, viscous gel that is 96% water. The other four percent contains 75 known substances including Vitamins A, B, C, E, calcium, amino acids for protein building, and enzymes used in digestion.

In addition to the skin, aloe helps heal other epitheliums in our body including the lining of the gut, the bronchial tubes and the genital tract. When taken internally, aloe vera aids the digestion and absorption of nutrients while clearing toxins out of the g.i. tract, helps control blood sugar, increases energy production, purifies the blood, reduces inflammation, promotes cardiovascular health, improves liver function, encourages cellular renewal, boosts the immune system, and cools your internal fires.

Please note: Pregnant women and children under five should not take aloe vera internally.

  • For skin health and digestive healing, you can take 1 tablespoon of Aloe juice in the morning.

  • One of my favorite smoothies, this Green Goddess Morning Glory, features aloe as a key ingredient.

  • For a very simple tonic, mix together 1/3 cup Aloe juice with 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon black cherry concentrate to make an Aloe drink which you can have as a morning wake-me-up, or about an hour before bed, as an evening tonic to help cool you down and ease you into sleep.

burdock_1

Burdock

Scientific studies in Germany (1967) and Japan (1986) show burdock to have powerful antifungal and antibacterial actions. It is such a good blood purifier that Native Americans used it for venomous bites, and it is highly regarded for irritable skin conditions like eczema.

I purchase burdock root in the bulk section of my local fresh market.

  • You can put a handful of the root pieces in a teapot in the morning, pour boiling water up to the rim (4 cups), and stir in a small fist of hand crushed mint leaves. Optionally, you can add a few seeds of fennel. Let it cool to room temperature, and pour through a strainer into a glass. If it is too bitter, stir with a teaspoon of maple syrup.
  • You can also add burdock to soups and stews. Just toss it in early and cook long enough to soften.

cilantro detox juice

Cilantro

Cilantro is called Coriander in most parts of the world, including India where Ayurveda originated thousands of years ago. In the U.S., Coriander just refers to the cilantro seed.

Cilantro/Coriander is a source of Vitamins B, C, & K, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, phyto-nutrients, and flavonoids. It helps with digestion, relieves intestinal gas, prevents nausea, and regulates appetite. Coriander is a mild diuretic, an anti-inflammatory, and contains anti-histamines, flavonoids and phenols that help with allergies. 

Cilantro/Coriander promotes proper functioning of the liver and as a beneficial source of dietary fiber, it facilitates bowel movements, helps with diarrhea, and is shown to protect against urinary tract infections.

Researchers in Portugal found that oil extracted from coriander seeds can kill bacteria such as E. coli, which are related to food-borne diseases. This spice also has anti-fungal properties. Natural compounds in coriander leaves remove toxic heavy metals from the body without any side effects.

  • Cilantro is so good for you I add it to just about everything, and love making this Cilantro Pesto for pasta and salads. You can drink the juice, by blending handfuls of it stems and all with water, and you can apply a poultice of cilantro topically to help reduce, and cool, irritable skin rashes.

  • To make a poultice, wash a bunch of cilantro. pick out the brown or spoiled leaves and put the rest in a high-speed blender. Use stems and leaves. Add a half cup of water and blend on high until the cilantro is thoroughly liquefied. Strain, saving the liquid for your cilantro tonic. Apply the pulp to your skin, directly on the rash. Cover with a wrap so it holds.

coconut

Coconut

For its chill factor and numerous other benefits, Coconut, grown in the hot tropics where it is practically always summer, is that perfect hot season food. Offering sweet, healthy hydration to restore moisture, minerals and electrolytes, coconut is so delicious and so perfect for humans it has even been used in I.V. drips.

Cucumber Mint

Cucumber

When it comes to therapeutic summer foods, cucumber is at the top of my list of thirst-quenching, instant-cooling vegetables. As a diuretic, it is an effective reducer of heat and inflammation, and a good skin remedy.  The moisture-promoting, juicy cucumber contains more than 90% water and is rich in minerals.

According to Rebecca Wood, brilliant author of the equally brilliant, must-have resource, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, cucumber assists in cleansing and purifying blood, positively affects the heart and stomach, and contains erepsin, a digestive enzyme that is useful in breaking down protein, clearing the intestine of parasites (such as tapeworm) and cleaning the intestines. Cucumber increases kapha and brings pacification to vata and pitta.

  • Cucumber is so well appreciated for its cooling benefits, beauty experts have advocated the cucumber slice on the eyes treatment for centuries. Did you know your eyes are an expression of pitta in your body? So it makes sense to cool your eyes in the summer to bring down heat in you body, and cucumbers are one way of doing that.

  • Bring cucumber peels on summer activities with you so that if you or a loved one begins to overheat, you can place a cucumber peel on the back of the neck, at the temples, or over closed eyes. Back home, whip up this Cucumber Refresher or this refreshing Persian Cucumber Salad to relax and chill.

Red Danedelion

Dandelion

Dandelion root and its greens (the whole plant is medicinal) have been used as tonics and liver medicines in European folk medicine since the time of the ancient Greeks, and Hippocratic medicine, which we believe emerged from the Greeks interactions with Ayurvedic doctors and Yogis (thanks to Alexander the Great!).

In Ayurveda, Dandelion is used to treat various liver disorders such as jaundice, cirrhosis of the liver, and enlargement of the liver. Chronic disease of the metabolism and internal organs, especially gout and liver disease are some of the most consistent, long-standing indications for Dandelion and it is a fact that it is one of the best agents with which to intervene in chronic rheumatic disease’.

  • Try this Beauty Brew with dandelion, peppermint, nettles, rose, lemon balm, lavender and chamomile to cool and relax, while healing and rejuvenating skin.

My Ayurvedic Summer Cleanse is full of these cooling ingredients in delicious and effective pitta reducing recipes. We have just begun, and it is not too late to join us! It is only 5 days, and all by donation so everyone can participate.  You get amazing support, daily emails and lots of loving, kind souls to keep you inspired and on track.

Enjoy summer, and let me know how I can help you to remember that nature is Love, loving you all the time.

Namaste!

NB: recently a post by our Sophia Campers was accidentally published here, when it was meant for here, http://sophiacamp.org I invite you to head over and read it, as it was written by our baiting Italian girls summarizing their five days at Camp learning Yoga and Ayurveda. 

Gluten free, Sugar free, No Bake Apple Pecan Pie

no bake apple pie
Two years ago at our Yoga Therapy Training, I served a gluten free, dairy free, no sugar added, homemade apple pie. The recipe was requested. It has taken me these years, but at long last, here, finally, it is.

Unfortunately, when I first came to write it up last month I couldn’t find the recipe. Fortunately, that meant I had to try it a few times before it came right again, and that meant a lot of apple pies this autumn. Yes, we are blessed!

raw-gf-apple-pie

The saying An apple a day… is truer than everApples support your liver to help your body process and releases toxins in our air, water, food – more important now than ever. Apples help clear your colon, also more important than ever – as everyone, even mother earth, needs extra support now in eliminating waste.

Apples are good for your bloodeyes, skin. Apples are cool, so they are Pitta-reducing and anti-inflammatory. They are sweet, so they are Vata-reducing and tonifying – especially when sliced, tossed in fresh lemon juice, and sprinkled with cinnamon, as in this recipe. They are also light enough to be good for Kapha, reducing blood sugar and helping you feel full with less, thanks to so much fabulous fiber.

That makes apples tridoshic, meaning they love everyone, so everyone gets to enjoy this super food, super “free”, super pie!

sweetie apple

Be sure you use your favorite apple. Since they aren’t going to be cooked, they will taste in the pie the way they taste in your hand when you eat straight from the fruit basket. I used “Sweetie” apples, but anything fresh, crunchy and sweet will be good.

For the decoration, I wanted some red so used a Fuji, but a crispy green apple would give a lovely color, too.

apple pecan pie

I added a bit of almond butter to make it an extra high protein, high fiber, high nutritional meal I could have for breakfast, or for the kids as a midday snack. The almond butter makes the filling a bit more caramel-y, but if you feel that is too nutty for you, leave it out. It’s still great.

Also, if you are allergic to nuts you can skip the pecans and just make a crust of dates. Yes, just dates. Or, if it’s safe for you, add a tablespoon of coconut oil, and/or toasted sunflower seeds,

If you want it fully raw, skip the pecan toasting. I’ve done it that way and it works, too. But toasting draws the divine essence from pecans, giving golden, nutty grounding to the crisp, sunburst of the apple.

glutenfree apple pie

Easy, No Bake Apple Pecan Pie

Pie Crust:

2 c Pecans
10 Medjool Dates, pits removed
1 T Coconut Oil
A hearty pinch of Himalayan Salt
A pinch of Cinnamon
A dash Nutmeg

Pie Filling:

6 Apples
6 Medjool Dates, seeds removed
1 Lemon, juiced
2 T Almond Butter, optional
1 T Raw Honey, also optional
1 hefty pinch of Himalayan Salt
1 hearty dash of Cinnamon
1 light dusting of Cardamom, optional
1/4 c Chia Seeds

To make the crust:

Toast the pecans until they are very lightly brown. Put them aside. In your electric blender, macerate the dates. Add the coconut oil and spices and mix. Toss in the pecans and pulse lightly three times, just enough to break up and integrate with the dates, but careful not to turn this into pecan butter.

Press the crust into a pie dish (mine is 9.5″). Cover with a plate facing up so the slight bowl of the plate presses into the crust and so that the crust is entirely covered. Place in your refrigerator if you have a few hours before filling, or into your freezer if you don’t.

To make the filling: 

Again, start with the dates. Blend on high speed until they are completely mashed. Juice your lemon and set aside 1 tablespoon for later. Add the lemon juice, almond butter honey and spices to the dates and blend well. Slice your apples and add. Blend until the mixture starts resembling a very chunky apple sauce. Add the chia seeds. Pulse a few times to blend thoroughly. Pour this mixture onto the pie crust. Spread evenly. Cover (I turn the plate that was sitting on the crust over and use to cover) and place in your fridge. Allow to set at least four hours.

apple pie

Garnish: 

This doesn’t need a topping, but if you like the apple rose on top, just core an apple and slice very, very thin. To keep the slices from browning as you slice, put each slice as you cut into a bowl with that remaining lemon juice. Once all the pieces are cut and in the bowl, sprinkle a dash or two of cinnamon and toss. The set each piece, one by one, in an overlapping circle around the outer edge. Continue making smaller circles towards the middle until the pie is covered. Then set a pecan or a few thin slices of lemon rind in the very center.

This is so simple and so quick: apart from the 4 hours in the refrigerator to let the chia seeds do their work, you can make this start-to-finish in 15 minutes.

apple pie

I guess you could call this a trick on a treat, because it seems like dessert, yet it’s delightfully good for you. Let me know if you try it, and any variations you enjoy.

being silly at the bay: napping after a yoga therapy training picnic
being silly at the bay :: protecting from the sun :: napping after a yoga therapy training picnic

What sort of tricks or treats are you doing this hallowed e’en?