From the “I never thought of that!” to the more common, here’s a list of cooling foods and activities to help you get through the HOTTEST days of summer.
So this one’s pretty obvious. The name begins with “water”, after all, and it’s the perfect way to introduce the idea of cooling foods. Everyone instinctively knows that watermelon is refreshing on a hot summer day. But… you may not realize why. Did you know that foods possess an energetically cooling or warming temperature, and it has nothing to do with whether you cook foods or freeze them? It’s the reason why tropical fruits grow naturally near the equator - to help people who live there - cool down! Mother nature makes no mistakes when it comes to growing the perfect foods for various climates.
The discovery of the energetic temperature of foods, and whether they have a warming or cooling effect on the body, comes from Eastern cultures. Both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine from India have taught these concepts for more than 5000 years.
In the collage above, I included a drink made by blending watermelon. That’s it – it’s the only ingredient! You can add a little ice if you like, but a few cups of watermelon cubes blended up and you have the brightest, yummiest health drink you can imagine. If you want to be extra fancy, add some fresh mint and a squeeze of lime. For fun, save the hollowed out half of a watermelon and fill it with ice cubes. Place some bottles of water in it and you have a biodegradable cooler! How fun is that?
With names such as “iceberg”, this one’s also pretty easy to guess. Pair mixed greens with cooling fruits such as oranges, green apples, or strawberries, and you have a seriously “cool” triple threat.
Alternatively, go for a plain fruit salad and you’re sure to please even the pickiest little members of the family. We all want our kids to cool down with healthier things than sugared-up sodas and popsicles, right?
#3. Cool Veggies
Asparagus, Broccoli, and Cauliflower kick off the ABC’s of cooling veggies. Here’s a few more: cabbage, seaweed, snow peas, white/button mushrooms, beets, bok choy, carrots, celery, corn, dandelion greens, eggplant, endive, potato, pumpkin, spinach, summer squash, turnips, and zucchini. (Okay, so according to botanists, a few of these items may be considered fruits, but you get the idea).
The best way to assure variety is by making a pan of roasted vegetables. Above right: Spread chopped asparagus, eggplant, bell peppers, , summer squash, and zucchini on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil lightly across the whole pan of veggies, then try to evenly distribute fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt over the veggies. Roast at 400 degrees for approximately 20-30 minutes. We tried half the pan with grated parmesan over the veggies and half without cheese and we all agreed – simple (without cheese) was best.
Above left is a tip for storing asparagus. Put bundles in glass jars filled with an inch or two of water prior to placing in the refrigerator, and stalks can stay fresh for weeks.
Did you know that by the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated? That’s why it’s just a good idea to keep water handy at all times. Keep your water glass close at hand when you’re at home, or keep bottled water in your vehicle when out about town. There have been so many times I thought I would NOT be out running errands very long, and still, inevitably my kids would say, “We’re THIRSTY!”
Being prepared by always having water in the car has been a lifesaver on too many occasions to count.
If plain water seems too boring, jazz it up with some lemon and cucumber slices and voilà! You’ve got “spa water”. As you may have guessed, lemons and cucumbers are cooling fruits. We don’t have phrases like “cool as a cucumber” for nothing!
You’ve most likely craved some of these lighter, cooling foods in the summer time, but now you know why. They body has its own wisdom and instinctively gravitates towards what it needs to maintain a balanced internal temperature.
Now, how about some cooling activities?
#5. Be near water
On or near large bodies of water, the air temperature is actually cooler. So if you’d like to cool down just a bit without actual immersion, just head to the nearest lake or pond (or if you’re lucky – ocean). As a bonus, maybe you’ll get to interact with nature!
For the final tip (and most obvious of all)….
#6. Get in the water!
From swimming pools to water parks to sprinklers, there’s really no reason to stay hot when it’s so easy to cool down.
Add a few water toys and no kid will want to stay inside!
Supply classic water squirt guns or other water launchers, get water balloons ready in advance by filling an entire bag of balloons at one time and then store them in coolers until ready to use. If kids go through water balloons too fast and aren’t ready for the fun to end, make splash balls (above left) in lieu of water balloons. Finally, encourage little ones to get out and wash their bikes, trikes, wagons, or other riding toys.
How about this cool idea?
Every Tuesday evening throughout summer in my neighborhood, , some pretty awesome grown-ups organize events for kids and families to have fun. Whether it’s a pool party, ice cream social, or a DIY water slide, everyone appreciates the gathering. Announcements start going up on sandwich boards around the community like the one below, and kids start getting excited. Often, the planned activity will be posted in advance.
One of the most popular activities is the DIY waterslide. Using thick plastic sheeting from giant tolls at the hardware store, two adults take turns spraying water down the plastic from hoses at the top.
And the fun begins….
The line of kids would never go home if they didn’t set a time for turning off the hoses!
Look how much fun they’re having… Can you blame them?
Even adults get in on the action… Why not?
If I know that I’ll be going anywhere near water with my kids, I’ll usually wear a swim suit with swim shorts and a shirt over it. That way, I’m ready to participate in spur-of-the moment fun or, if not, at least I’m not unprepared if I happen to get wet.
Ready to try some of these ideas to beat the heat?