The summer of 2016 has been labeled above-average hot by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; especially across the continental United States. It certainly feels that way here in Central Florida, where I live! According to ayurveda, the blazing summer months can tip your pitta scales toward cranky, irritable, and drained (especially if your dominant is pitta). Fortunately, the foods you eat can help to balance an overactive pitta dosha so that you can remain as cool as a cucumber. Speaking of cucumbers…
Pitta pacifying foods include those that are, quite literally, cool or cold by nature, densely nourishing (like avocados, which pack a high dose of macronutrient in a small package), and dry (such as air-popped popcorn). If your pitta dosha is imbalanced, reduce your consumption of hot, spicy, salty, and deep-fried foods; alcohol; and caffeine (sorry!). Luckily, there are some awesome concoctions which please the pitta by catering to bitter and astringent food qualities. Below are some nutrient-dense recipes to keep you hydrated and cool.
Pitta pacifying foods include those that are, quite literally, cool or cold by nature.
Cucumber Mint Mocktail The cooling cucumber will help to keep the heat at bay, and mint is known for its digestion-easing properties.
1 lime, juiced
½ cucumber, peeled
1 tablespoon cane sugar or raw maple syrup
8 ounces of club soda or seltzer water (coconut seltzer water is a particularly tasty selection in this drink!)
4-5 mint leaves
Place cucumber, lime juice, sweetener, and mint leaves in a blender and blend on low until smooth. Place mixture in a shaker with club soda or seltzer water and shake until well mixed. Pour over ice, and garnish with extra lime wedges, mint leaves, and/or cucumber slices.
Iced Chamomile Spritzer I grew up in the Deep South, where many people argue that a tall glass of classic sweet tea is one of summer’s key components. Typically made with black tea, the drink possesses some pitta-soothing qualities, such as mild bitterness and astringency. Stick with it if you love it! But if you’re looking for a new but equally refreshing iced tea recipe, try this chamomile-based version. Extra pitta pacifying perk: It’s caffeine-free!
Ingredients for eight servings (or a small pitcher):
8 cups of water
8 teaspoons of loose chamomile leaves
Optional: sweetener, to taste
Optional: frozen raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries
Bring water to a rolling boil in a tea kettle or medium-sized saucepan. Steep tea leaves for up to ten minutes (or follow package instructions for steeping). Strain leaves. Add sweetener, if desired; mix. Cool in refrigerator for at least one hour. When ready to drink, pour over ice and frozen berry mix.
Chilled Avocado and Mango Salsa The buttery avocado and cold, sweet mango in this filling dish provide healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and a high dose of vitamin C. The fiber aids digestive processes, while the vitamin C contributes to the creation of collagen fibers (which play a key role in skin, muscle, and intestinal integrity). As an antioxidant, vitamin C also supports the processes of the immune system and reduces inflammation in the body.
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
3 mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can sweet corn, rinsed and drained
1 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ limes, juiced
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Eat with baked veggie or corn chips, raw or grilled vegetables, or even by the spoonful…the possibilities are endless!
Summer Salad This light, refreshing, and nutrient-dense salad will leave you feeling satisfied but not stuffed!
1 bunch kale leaves
1 bunch arugula leaves
1 cucumber, sliced
2 cups strawberries, chopped
1 cup cooked orzo
Salt and pepper to taste
Crumbled feta cheese
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well.
1 cup water
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt and pepper
Optional: ground garlic, fresh herbs, pinch of sugar
Whisk, blend, or shake in a tightly sealed container all ingredients together until combined. Pour as desired over individual salad servings.
Coconut Watermelon Freezes Coconut and watermelon are both pitta-pacifying foods that aid digestion and balance acid levels. They also tame elevated blood cortisol levels and oxidant load in the body. Chia seeds soothe digestion and are high in omega-3 fats, fiber, and protein.
Ingredients for four to eight popsicle molds, depending on size:
One 12-oz can of coconut water, OR one 12-oz can of full-fat coconut milk for a creamier version
2 cups watermelon, seeded and chopped
3-4 sprigs mint, de-stemmed and chopped
1 teaspoon chia seeds
Optional: 2 teaspoons date syrup for extra sweetness
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds, and add sticks if the molds do not come with handles. Freeze for at least four hours before serving.
Chilled Cinnamon Rice Pudding The cool qualities of milk and rice, as well as the sweetness of this dessert, make it an ideal summer treat. As a bonus, cinnamon has been shown to balance out blood sugar levels!
Ingredients for a small group:
3 cups whole cow’s milk or full-fat coconut milk
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup date syrup
Pinch of sea salt
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the milk, rice, and salt. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let simmer for about 30 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring as needed. While the rice is cooking, mix the beaten egg and date syrup. Once the rice is cooked, slowly add the egg and date syrup mixture to the rice mix, mixing it well. Simmer for another five minutes on low, and then remove from heat source. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon, and place mixture into a greased baking dish. Place in refrigerator to chill for one to two hours before serving.
Dosha-focused recipes give a new meaning to the term “comfort eating,” so the next time you feel irritably hot and bothered, comfort yourself with pitta soothing foods that work with you and for you. Stay cool for the next couple of months, my Northern Hemisphere friends! (And bookmark away, Southern Hemisphere readers!)