May, the hottest month of the year, is still to arrive yet most of our conversations are already starting with "It's so hot!" This is hardly surprising given that temperatures are nudging 40°C. If the thought of getting through this hot season is causing you anxiety, here are some foods that can help you keep your cool, literally!
100% sterile, packed in it's own little refrigerator, and found on every street corner in most parts of India-coconut water is nature's own gift for summers. It's better than fruit juices which have a lot of sugar (even if the package says otherwise). It's got lesser sodium and more potassium than most sport drinks, making it the perfect post-workout drink. Make sure that you stick to the real thing as pre-packaged coconut water available in supermarkets may have preservatives and added sugar.
Made fresh in most Indian homes, yoghurt or dahi has been around since time immemorial. The probiotic good bacteria in yoghurt helps in digestion and maintaining better immunity. It hydrates and provides calcium, protein, vitamin B2, B12 and potassium to the body. This delicately flavoured food mixes well with fruits for breakfast and pairs well with Indian cuisine by toning down the spiciness and oiliness. Most South Indians will swear by the cooling effect of curd-rice in summers, just as a Punjabi will happily guzzle down a huge glass of lassi. Make a large jug of chaas with thinned out yoghurt and black salt, and keep sipping through the day to stay hydrated without piling on calories.
With a cart loaded with cucumbers immersed in a bucket of cool water and with a bottle of chilli-salt, the cucumber vendor is a part of memories from childhood summers. The vegetable is almost 95% water. It is rich in antioxidants and has great anti-inflammatory properties. Chilled cucumbers halved and sprinkled with chaat masala or black salt are the perfect summer snack. Whether you make a cucumber-yoghurt savoury smoothie, lassi, or tzatziki (a Greek yoghurt-based dip), you're sure to enjoy the goodness of it!
ust saying the word mint feels like having a wisp of fresh air blow in your face, doesn't it? While it doesn't do anything to cool your body, menthol makes you feel a lot cooler and fresher! It helps with digestion too. Use it as a liberal garnish on salads, or muddled in lemonades. Finely chop and add to your buttermilk, iced tea or to raita. Another tip is to make ice cubes with mint leaves in the water for refreshing mint-flavoured ice that looks pretty in a glass too. You could grow a pot of mint to have access to fresh mint all through summer.
Lemons are rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids which aid digestion, reduce inflammation and also decrease fluid retention. The refreshing citrus flavour makes you feel better about facing a hot day. The best zero-calorie drink you can drink throughout summer is a large jug of water with lemon slices and mint. You can also make lemonade, use lemon zest or lemon in salad dressings with olive oil, and even dress your pasta in some lemon-butter sauce with minimal effort.
Nothing screams summer more than watermelon. The fruit is known to have amino acid citrulline that helps relax the blood vessels, quite similar to the action of the drug Viagra! Before you conclude that this is a good replacement for Viagra, understand that the effect is not to work as a replacement, but to help better the cardiovascular function in the body. It is also a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Just dice and eat a bowlful for a sweet, juicy treat. Add to salads, make a watermelon-mint juice, or blend into a raita with yoghurt. It pairs well with mint and feta cheese to make a watermelon-feta salad.
You might wonder why this is featuring in a summer foods list. Banana is very rich in potassium, which you end up losing when you sweat-especially kids, when they play outdoors. Replenish and hydrate them with a banana milkshake or smoothie, and they'll be up and running like Duracell bunnies in no time. With 2.5gms of fiber in every 6-inch banana, bowel regularity is also maintained.
This is one thing you either love or hate. Indian black salt or kala namak smells strong because of the sulphur content. Ayurveda practitioners maintain that this salt is good for the body. In summers, it is a good way to get back the sodium lost due to sweating. Traditionally made kala namak has decent levels of iron and magnesium. Add it to buttermilk, raitas, salads or fruits for flavour as well as health benefits.