A new culinary phrase is being thrown around during the summer months. News stories being aired with dietitians making claims that certain foods can actually cool you down. Honestly, this isn’t true, however, there are food choices you can make that are easier to digests. Red meats, fatty foods, and excessive carbohydrate diets are best left for old man winter. Lighter diets filled with marinated vegetables, fruits, freshly made dips, and cold entree’s with fish and chicken are best for the scorching months of summer.
The body maintains a constant temperature around 98.6 degree’s fahrenheit. When the body overheats, it perspires to cool itself down. The evaporation of water cools the skin which cools the body. Cool showers, swimming pools, and ice cold beverages also help to cool the body down. Eating habits should change during the summer months to reflect the change in season. Gardens and farmers markets are yielding beautiful produce that’s fresh and in season. In season produce is a must in choosing your summer menu’s.
Fatty meats are hard for the body to digest and require vast amounts of energy. Summer heat makes us sluggish to start with and when coupled with a large rib eye steak or massive hamburger can have a tendency to increase our waistlines. I like to eat lighter foods in the summer and have an inclination to eat more often throughout the day. Cold fruits and vegetables are crucial to a healthy comfortable summer diet. Try changing your protein source from red meats to beans, fish, chicken or tofu. Having said that, I would like to make a disclaimer that I’m not giving up a summer bbq with steaks or hamburgers, all of us should simply limit their occurrences. By reducing these hard to digest food items, you can look forward to a cooler and more comfortable summer.
One of my favorite summer time meals are fresh vegetables, fruit and hummus. Hummus is probably one of the most versatile dishes around. Any kind of beans can be used to create this delicious spread/dip and it can be made into an infinite number of flavor combinations. There are a few key ingredients to making hummus that should always be used. Tahini is a simple sesame seed paste that can be purchased in most grocery stores and is key to a tasty hummus. Another key ingredient is lemon juice. Citric acid brightens the flavor of the dip and helps to preserve color. Other than tahini and lemon juice, add whatever flavors you want.
When I make humus I like to use my food processor, however, you can use a blender. Choose the type of bean you want to use and either cook them yourself or buy them cooked in a can from the store. Strain them and reserve the juice which can be used to adjust the viscosity of the hummus. Place the beans in your food processor and add some tahini sauce, lemon juice and any type of flavoring you want (garlic, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil…). Simply puree the mixture adjusting the viscosity of the dip with the reserved bean juice or some olive oil. Fresh green onions, chives or roasted peppers are great flavor variations as well. When it’s pureed, add your salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chips, fresh vegetables, or bread.
Hummus is easy and a great source of protein. One of the best things about making hummus is there is no reason to heat up the grill, stove, or oven. To stay cool in the summer, change your eating habits to include fresh vegetables from you garden, fruits, nuts, crackers, legumes (great source of protein) and go sparingly on the heavy foods like meats, heavy gravies/sauces, meat lover pizzas, lasagnas, casseroles, creamy soups…I think you get the idea. For a great hummus recipe, simply log onto my website www.cookingwithchefbryan.com