Its a shame when people lose their connection to the natural flow of the seasons, particularly with how they spice their foods. Spices have long been used in Ancient China and India to balance the human body during the extremes of the seasons. According to traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda), it is important to use cooling spices during the summer months to avoid excess internal heat in the body.
Known as the “pitta,” or fire season, summer can lead to excess irritation, acne, rash, sweating and even heat stroke. To keep the body cool during the summer months, Ayurveda recommends eating cooling foods such as leafy bitter greens, cucumber, watermelon, and coconut water. This 5,000 year-old food philosophy also places heavy emphasis on the use of cooling spices in the summer.
1. Organic Mint
Whether peppermint or spearmint, mint is more than just a bad breath remedy, it’s also an excellent cooling summer spice. Best when picked fresh from your herb garden, mint makes a heat-busting addition to a summer lemonade or fresh fruit salad. Growing peppermint in your backyard is also very easy to do.
2. Organic Fennel Seed
Fennel seeds are highly cooling. They also have the added benefit of stimulating intestinal juices, promoting proper digestion and reducing acid reflux. Try chewing a teaspoon of fennel seeds before and after your next main meal. They also keep the breath fresh and promote good oral hygiene.
3. Organic Fresh Cilantro
Fresh cilantro leaves have been used in Thailand and Mexico for thousands of years. A staple in home-made salsas, cilantro acts to counteract the often-spicy flavors and tastes of many international dishes.
Cilantro is extremely easy to grow at home. It grows in both gardens and pots, prefers direct sunlight, and produces leaves quickly and without much care.
4. Organic Turmeric
One of the most healing spices on the planet, turmeric is cooling during the summer. It also has health-boosting properties for the human body. A liver cleanser, blood purifier, this cooling summer spice should be considered a necessity to keep in the spice cabinet.
Turmeric is one of the best spices for avoiding toxic redness in the body, a condition that often peaks in summer time. It also stimulates the digestive process, boosts immunity and is great for cooling off over-heated summer skin.
5. Organic Fresh Basil
Another easy-to-grow herb, fresh basil is extremely high in antioxidants. Try making a cooling summer pesto using fresh basil leaves, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, lemon juice and salt.
6. Organic Cardamom
Another excellent digestive aid, this spice makes a great addition to a summer morning tea. Try heating some almond milk, adding a dash or two of cardamom, and some rooibush tea for a cooling iced herbal tea for summer. Cardamom is also tasty when added to your morning smoothie, granola or yogurt.
7. Organic Dill
This cooling savory spice can be used both fresh and dried. Try adding some fresh dill to items on the menu during the summer months. Grilled veggies taste great with some cooling fresh dill and a dash of lime.
8. Organic Cumin
In small amounts, cumin seeds and ground powder are cooling. They also act as a powerful anti-carminative and digestive aid. Cumin is a savory spice that can be used in grain dishes, vegetable stir-fry’s and soups.
9. Organic Fresh Ginger
While it may seem that this spice increases the heat, fresh ginger actually has a cooling post-digestive effect on the body. Fresh ginger tea is also one of the best spices for keeping our digestion regular. Try drinking some fresh ginger tea throughout the day (between meals). You may notice that your appetite is healthier, and your ability to successfully digest foods increases.
- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM