As the mercury rises, tempers begin to flare, lethargy kicks in, dehydration steps up and the mood simply dwindles. You need a burst of energy, something that will help you cool down and beat the heat. Its time to turn to food. Cook up a storm in the kitchen with ingredients that provide instant energy and relief from the scorching sun.
Use the summer months to your advantage; create simple dishes with the plethora of colorful fruits and vegetables harvested during these months. Soothe your eyes and your soul with these 5 picks:
Summer Greens Salad with a light vinaigrette:
Crisp iceberg lettuce, cool cucumbers and fresh green spinach should be your base. The high water content of iceberg lettuce is sure to help cool you down. Avoid using heavy, creamy dressings. Stick to light vinaigrettes that settle well in your stomach.
- Iceberg lettuce
- Olive oil
- Dijon mustard
- Orange juice
- Boil the spinach and immediately blanch in ice cold water
- Cut the cucumbers into discs and add to the iceberg lettuce.
- In a bowl, toss the cucumbers, lettuce, spinach and any other vegetables of your choice
- I added chunks of watermelon to further cool myself down
- Refrigerate till time to serve
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, dijon mustard, splash of orange juice, salt and pepper together.
- Add the dressing to the cold bowl of salad
- Toss in some croutons to add an extra crucnh
Within minutes of eating the salad, you should feel your temperature dropping. Furthermore, spinach is high in Vitamin A and C which helps in protecting against sun damage, rashes and dry skin.
Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
Ruby red tomatoes, drizzled with green basil oil, topped with a thin yellow layer of Parmesan cheese, resting on top of toasted french bread, is definitely a sight for sore eyes. It is the perfect snack on a hot summer afternoon accompanied by an ice-cold beverage.
- Tomatoes, roughly chopped
- Basil leaves
- Olive oil
- French bread, cut sideways
- Parmesan cheese
- Crush the basil with a mortar and pestle. (If unavailable, blitz in a food processor with a few drops of oil)
- Add the crushed basil to the olive oil and set aside to let the flavors infuse
- Toast the slices of french bread in an oven or on a hot grill
- Place the tomatoes atop the french bread, drizzle generously with the olive oil and basil mixture, add the salt and pepper and finish off with paper thin slices of parmesan cheese
One bite will take you to the cafes of Tuscany. The best part is the tomatoes will fill you up and reduce your dehydration as they are packed with water, fiber and vitamins. Considered “wet carbs”, tomatoes will be your best friend during the summer months.
Cucumber and Melon Soup
Cucumbers are a staple feature in any summer menu. Research has shown that they contain a higher water content than watermelons and virtually no calories. Similarly melons are known as the classic summer fruit. A fusion of the two is definitely a winner under the scorching sun.
- Small melon, peeled and cut into small squares
- I cucumber, peeled and chopped
- Lime juice
- Handful basil leaves chopped
- Puree the melon and cucumber in a food processor.
- Add in the lime juice slowly, pulsing each time.
- Throw in the basil leaves and blitz for a further 2 minutes
- Transfer the soup into a bowl and chill for 2-3 hours or until time to serve
- Garnish the soup with basil leaves and a little cream
Soups are always associated with bringing warmth in the winter, but this magical concoction is sure to help you cool down in the summer
Linguine with Tuna, Lemon and Dill
Carbohydrates are known as a source of energy, however people refrain from eating heavy pastas in the summer. But this cold pasta is great for all those summer lunches.
- Lemon juice
- Fresh dill
- Olive oil
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Boil the pasta till al dente, strain the water and pour cold water over the pasta so that the linguine does not stick together
- Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and lots of fresh dill in a bowl.
- Add a generous splash of the olive oil mixture over the pasta
- Top with chunks of tuna and grated parmesan cheese
It is best to have this pasta cold. Known as the “chicken of the sea”, tuna is known to reduce stress and elevate the mood. What better time to have tuna than in the summer?
Fresh Fruit Smoothie
This is the icing on the cake; a way to make your summer more enjoyable and healthy. Loaded with vitamins and cooling agents, a smoothie is a must during the hot months.
- A variety of fruits of your choice
- Crushed ice
- Chop all the fruits and add to the blender
- Mix in the yoghurt, honey and crushed ice and blitz till a puree forms.
- Add some water in the event the smoothie is too thick.
- Pour the smoothie in a glass and enjoy.
The term smoothie was coined by the “Hippies” in the late 1960’s. The fruits are a source of vitamins, the honey provides the energy and the yoghurt gives a dose of calcium. It is a drink with all the nutritional benefits as well as the added advantage of beating the heat.