This is the summer solstice culinary inspiration Jana and I wrote for Bay Shakti, the Anusara Yoga based web-zine based in San Francisco. Check’um Out!!
When you live and play in the San Francisco Bay Area, Summer can be a little hard to distinguish. Some years, Spring showers carry cold rainy winds into the Solstice time. We get to hear about the heat waves across the nation, and yet we are often left with the soupy fog that brings the “June Gloom”.
Even though the temperatures outside are not in the 80’s and 90’s like it is going to be on your Mexico vacation in a month, we are still in the peak of the season. Sunshine is brimming all around us! The farms in Sonoma county are beginning to bust at the seams of their CSA boxes! Despite the fog and cold Pacific Ocean wind that some days just won’t quit, we still have our hands and our teeth in the beautiful bounty of the California Summer.
Speaking of hands and teeth, what are you doing and eating right now that maximizes your healthy living experience of the Solstice time? Since we have this sun and warmth for only a couple wonderful months, here are a few thoughts about the season and how to treat your body and mind right.
Summer is a time of abundant light, growth, expansion of energies and rising heat in our bodies as well as in Nature. It is a time to arise early with the Sun, be active, play outside, relax in the shade, create and celebrate beauty. Color is vivid in the world around you, and your meals should reflect that brilliance of light.
Along the lines of classical Ayurdevic and Chinese medicine perspectives, Summer signals the rise of pitta and yang energies to their zenith. It is also the season of the Heart and small Intestine. The Heart is the seat of the mind and in the classic texts they are often spoken about without difference as the Heart-Mind. Naturally, we want dance with the play of energies around us and act and eat in ways that balance these key energies and organs.
Movement & Asana Practice to get you feeling amazing!
Hip openers such as Pigeon & Gomukhasana are powerful to ground and free an active body. Twists like Marichyasana and Revolved Child’s Pose help in cooling and regulating the body’s organ and meridian systems. Forward Bends including Upavistha Konasana w/variations calm and rejunivate. Pranayama practices like Stithali and Oujaii also help to regulate body temperature and expand the pranic body.
You are what you Eat!
Depending on where you live, different vegetables and fruits will be available to you; eat what grows in your corner of the world. From both Ayurveda and Chinese perspectives eating seasonally and locally are the best way to ensure great health throughout seasonal changes. In the heat of Summer more water and minerals are needed as we lose so much through perspiration. Foods should be light, fresh, steamed or cooked quickly over high heat with coconut or olive oil. It is best to have cooling foods with some spices to regulate body temperature instead of iced drinks, ice cream, and sugars which will weaken the system by cooling it too fast. Water should be room temperature, and drink plenty between meals.
Get creative with a few important and cooling foods and movements this Summer and Have Fun!
General preparation tips for Summer:
Raw, steaming, quick saute over high heat.
Here are 3 foods to bring into your life this season, why they are so helpful & recipes for you to try out for yourself:
Lemon, Armenian, Japanese, English, Garden, and Pickling varieties start flowing as soon as June comes up and last deep into September. Cucumbers are high in silicone which is key in strengthening nerve and heart tissue, allowing the mind to de-stress. Cucumbers cool inflammatory conditions and excess heat in the body. They cleanse the blood and even contain a powerful digestive enzyme, erepsin, that helps cleanse the intestines.
Recipe: Cucumber Gazpacho with Zucchini, Avocado, Cilantro (Serves 2-4)
- 4 cups cucumber, any variety besides pickling cucumbers, roughly cut
- 2 cups Italian summer squash, zucchini, etc., roughly cut
- 1 large ripe avocado
- 1 cup cilantro
- Juice of 1 lemon or ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Couple turns of your pepper grinder
If using the garden cucumbers, get them at the farmers market and make sure your farmer is not waxing them. If there is any question or if you are shopping at your local store, use a cucumber that is not being waxed like the English or Armenian varieties. Before you begin, wash all your ingredients thoroughly. Place all ingredients in the carafe of your blender and whirl until just smooth. You may have to add a a cup or two of water to get everything moving smoothly. Adjust the Salt and vinegar/lemon levels to meet your summer mineral hydration needs. Chill for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Mung Bean Sprouts!
Mung beans are available in bulk and most natural foods stores and some farms. They specifically build cooling fluids in the body especially for the liver which proves them helpful for detoxifying the whole body. Mung beans have been shown to profoundly sweep fat and cholesterol deposits from the arteries thus strengthening the heart and vascular system. Feeling antsy, impatient, and “fired-up”? Have some mung sprouts and chill out.
Recipe: Soak, sprout, EAT!
- ½ cup mung beans
- 1 quart mason jar
Place water and beans in the jar and let sit for 24 hours. Change the water and let sit for another 12. At this point all the beans should be waking up and sprouting. They are edible from here on out. You can leave them in the jar without water in a shaded spot in your kitchen and continue rinsing every 12 hours. They will continue to grow and will very quickly fill your entire jar! Eat them on salads, on your entrees, or on their own with a little vinaigrette. They are perfect anywhere you need a little cooling crunch.
Blueberries are in abundance now until the middle of September or so, depending on the sun. Buy them at farmers’ markets if you can. Blueberries have been found to contain a wide range of phytochemicals, like resveratrol, that inhibit cancer cell growth. They are also high in fatty acids Omega 3 and 6, thus giving them power to clean the heart and put the mind to rest.
Recipe: Blueberry Fennel Mint Salad (Serves 4)
- 1.5 cups Blueberries
- 1 small fennel bulb, shaved on a mandolin or sliced very thin
- 10-15 mint leaves, gently torn
- 2 limes
- Mixed greens, 1 handful per serving
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil per serving
- Couple pinches of salt
- Couple cracks of sepper
Give your veggies a quick rinse to remove any of the residue from their trip from the garden to your kitchen. On one big plate or on individual plates, place the mixed greens and toss in your torn mint leaves. Gently shave the fennel with your mandolin directly onto the greens. Next, squeeze half of a lime per plate or serving, drizzle on the olive oil, sprinkle your salt, and crack your pepper on each plate per your desired taste. Let your blueberries dance on top as you divide them evenly around the plates. Serve and Enjoy!