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Health Wisdom

health-and-fitness Updated: Apr 29, 2008 02:02 IST
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Q. Which are the foods and ingredients that can help one cool down in summer? How and why?
The best foods for summer are light, refreshing and, most importantly, those that keep you out of the hot kitchen. Among the top recommended foods for the summer would be watermelon, cucumber and mint among vegetables, and oranges, pineapples and sweet limes among fruits.

Being low in sodium and calories, high in potassium and packed with vitamin C, A and anti-oxidants, these fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables easily qualify as good thirst quenchers and coolants. Wheat grass juice and other green juices made from coriander, curry leaves and spinach are also ideal.Consume coconut water, fruit juices, buttermilk, lime juice, carrot and beetroot juice to beat the heat. You can add black salt and lime juice to make the green juices palatable.

Brown rice, raw vegetables, moong sprouts salad, alfalfa sprouts tossed in green salad, low-fat curds, steamed or lightly stir-fried vegetables, watery dal soups, herbal and green teas promote easier digestion and are hence healthy for summers.

Q. Are chilies good for the system in summer?
No. Excessive amounts of chilli and pepper in meals are irritating to the digestive system and hence should be used only in moderation.Instead, season foods with small amounts of jeera, fresh coriander and mint (pudhina) as these are milder and also act as digestives.

Q. How much water should one drink in summer?
At least 10-12 glasses or 2.5 to three litres per day. Maintaining an optimum fluid intake is vital during summers to avoid dehydration and to compensate for water lost during perspiration. The best way would be to drink plain water, though you may also add lime, jal jeera powder, sabza and mint juice. Drinking soda with salt may help replace the electrolytes that we lose through sweat during summers but avoid caffeinated or carbonated beverages, alcoholic drinks, and those with a high sugar content.

Q. Which food preparations, especially traditional Indian ones, are ideal for the summer?
Sandwiches, salads and cold soups are the best dishes for a summer meal.
A plate of crisp salad, full of flavourful vegetables like cucumber, tomatos and lettuce along with a couple of slices of whole wheat bread or cold pasta and noodles tossed in a vinaigrette or a light curd dressing, make for a light but filling summer lunch or dinner. Regional curd based dishes like avial from Kerala and gatta kadhi from Rajasthan are suggested. Other popular dishes are solkadi, kothimbir chi wadi (steamed), phansachi bhaji from Maharashtra, pineapple kalen, chicken in butter milk masala, and Japanese cuisine with the sushi-sashimi combo rule over rich and heavy gravy based recipes. Whether its Meerut shikanji or the humble sugarcane juice; Ratnagiri aamras or herbal brahmi sherbet, ambol, curd rice, cool cucumber soup or khus sherbet — there are plenty of options to beat the heat.

Q. Which dishes and ingredients are best avoided during summer?
Summer creates ‘heat conditions’ inside us. Consuming too many ‘warming’ foods may only aggravate the heat conditions.

The cardinal rule about meal preparation is that it should be light, nutritious, non-fatty and not too spicy.
One tends to feel sluggish and lethargic as the days get hotter; therefore it is wise to avoid red meats, fried foods, coffee, alcohol, whole milk and cigarettes.

Certain ingredients like onion, garlic, pepper, dried fruits, ghee should be used sparingly whilst ‘cool’ ingredients such as kokum, yoghurt, fresh coconut, raw mangoes are preferred.

Raw foods tend to be stimulating and fasting once a week on fruits and vegetables tend to reduce the heat condition.

Heat-buster recipes:

Cooling Cucumber Curd Rice

Ingredients:

* 1 cup cooked rice, cooled
* 1 cup fresh curds (yoghurt)
* 1/2 cup cucumber, washed and chopped (unpeeled)
* 1 cup carrots, grated
* 1/4 cup chopped coriander
Salt to taste

For the tempering:

* 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
* 1 to 2 green chillies, slit
* 1 tablespoon split black lentils (urad dal)
* 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
* 4-6 curry leaves
* 1 tablespoon oil
* Coriander leaves for garnishing

Method:

* In a large bowl, combine the rice, curds, cucumber, carrots, coriander, rice and salt and mix well.
* In another pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds.
* When they crackle, add the urad dal, green chillies, asafoetida, curry leaves and sauté for 1 minute.
* Pour the tempering over the rice and mix well.
* Serve chilled, garnished with coriander leaves if you like.

Watermelon Juice

Ingredients:

* 500 gm watermelon
* A pinch of rock salt
* A few mint leaves

Method:

* Put the chopped watermelon through the juicer to extract its juice.
* Add rock salt and garnish with mint leaves.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre. You can send in your queries to query@health-total.com