The first summer after I moved to California I was suffering. I had severe hot flashes and was so hot 24/7 I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. I was 32 and wondering whether that is what a dreadful menopause must feel like !?
My first strategy was dashing from one air-conditioned room to another to survive. But then I had to move and the new place didn’t have the modern luxury of cool air. All I could do is collapse in the afternoon and resurrect myself like Jesus after the major heat wave of the day was over. I was desperate.
What made matters worse was that I had just moved from one of the coldest places in the country, Jackson Hole. It is winter eight months out of the year there and -20F is not uncommon. My body had a hard time adjusting to the hot climate. On top of that, my body is fiery by nature. Stack nature’s heat on top of that and disaster awaits.
Bitter foods cool the body
Luckily, I had just learn in Ayurveda school that bitter foods have a cooling effect on the body. Bitter is comprised of the elements air and ether. Notice the lack of fire element. Rad!!! I concocted myself a witchcrafty soup of mostly dandelion greens. I added swiss chard, kale and whatever other greens I could find. It had to be as bitter as possible. Onion, salt, turmeric and a small potato rounded off this blended soup. I willingly gulped it down. And it worked. My body temperature dropped instantaneously.
Although the experiment was successful and gave me deep insight into the power of food, truth be told, I would not recommend the above combination to anyone unless that person was as radical as me. The soup was very bitter. And I loved it. It was my medicine and helped me get through a rough spot and certainly decreased my “menopausal” hot flashes.
I still employ the principle of cooling foods during hot spells which is only smart but needless to say I have softened my approach.
Just to be clear when I talk about cooling foods I do not mean cool by temperature. What I am referring to is the inherent cooling and heating quality of a food. If you are not sure what I mean, think of a chili pepper. When you bite into it, you will feel a rush of warmth running up your body and our forehead starts to sweat. Eating hot peppers during the sizzling heat of summer would not be all that smart especially if you have signs of heat like inflammation, heartburn, excessive menstrual bleeding, loose stools, skin rashes or other heat symptoms.
The smart thing to do when it’s hot out or when you feel overheated is to cool yourself down. Dahh….right? Opposites balance each other. I know, I know, it’s so obvious, but often we don’t think of the thing closest to us.
The two principles of cooling foods
There are two principles when it comes to picking cooling foods:
- Foods that taste bitter, sweet or astringent have a cooling quality. Bitters are the most cooling. This approach is 80% fool proof.
- Whatever is in season and grows locally likely has a cooling quality. This is not bulletproof but a good indicator. Nature is pretty intelligent and provides us with the qualities our bodies need at the right time. Collaborating with our environment is a slick way to stay balanced.
My top 10 list of cooling foods
The great thing about the Top 10 List is that all of them are easily available in grocery stores:
- Dandelion leaves
- Aloe Juice
- Red Lentils
Now you may wonder what in the world to do with these items. Here goes some yummy and simple recipes. I am a big fan of simple and easy:
Yummy, cooling recipes
- You could make yourself peppermint-lemon-water.
- Non-glorious fennel water is yummy and a welcome change from plain water
- Dandelion pesto drops your heat and gives a tasty edge to salads or stir fries. It can also be used as a dip. I am told that you need to be a serious health fanatic to like this recipe. Really?
- Here is a somewhat decadent dessert made with coconut and carob that is healthy whole and satisfying.
Enjoy the simplicity of nature!
Then send me a note and let me know which recipe you like best.