Warm summer days have a tendency to alter our diets. With extreme heat, it’s common that our appetite slims down and our cravings for carbohydrates and warm foods diminish. Chinese Ayurvedic principles of yin and yang can help with seasonal dietary changes. Based on mind and body balance and macrobiotic eating principles, yin and yang are applicable to what we eat. Generally, yin repulses yin and yang repulses yang, thus yin and yang counterbalance one another for stability. Eating a mix of yin and yang foods can help our bodies to regulate, feel energized and nourished, and function in a healthy manner.
Yin foods typically have a cooling effect and yang foods typically have a warming effect on the body. Higher in potassium and containing less salt than yang, yin foods can be excellent for cooling the body down. Many yin foods are water-based and refreshing- making them perfect for summer meals and snacks. Alcohol, sugar, and caffeine are also extremely yin, however, these need to be enjoyed in moderation and cannot give the same cooling effects found in plant-based yin foods. Abundant in fruits, vegetables, and herbs and spices, here are some yin foods that can help keep you cool this summer.
Summer is abundant with fresh yin vegetables. One of the best cooling foods to eat on a hot day is a cucumber. Full of water, cucumbers will help keep your body naturally hydrated. Cucumbers are easy to mix into dishes such as grain salads, like this Freekah Salad, or try them sliced on top of one of these plant-based veggie burgers. For an extremely refreshing dish make this Basil Cucumber Salad. This salad will provide body balance as basil in a yang food, providing equilibrium to the cooling cucumbers. Celery is another cooling vegetable to munch on to stay cool. Like cucumbers, celery is full of water and can give a nice crunch to recipes. Essential to any plant-based diet, seaweed is a cooling yin food that is awesome any month of the year. Make this Easy Seaweed Salad or learn How to Reinvent Your Sushi for a refreshing seaweed dish. Other yin vegetables to try are radishes, spinach, eggplant, and peppers.
Eating fruit in the warm months is a terrific way to keep the body cool. Your body needs carbohydrates in summertime due to more energy expenditure from outdoor activities, and fruit is a great way to get these. Citrus fruits like grapefruits or oranges are both cooling and can easily be eaten alone, topped on a salad or made into a juice or smoothie. Try this Liver Cleanser Green Smoothie for a detoxing drink, or even squeeze some fresh citrus into your water for a bit of flavor. Pineapple, strawberries, and watermelon are all yin fruits and can be a sweet and juicy delight. These fruits would taste great when mixed into a spruced up fruit salad. These Berry Fruit Tarts With Chia Seeds would make a cooling dessert as the crust is made from dates, raisins, and figs, and the filling is bananas and berries- all yin foods! For a more hearty fruit snack, try a Zucchini Blueberry Muffin or these Raw Vegan Superfood Energy Protein Bars.
Herbs and Spices
Fresh herbs and spices are beneficial for more than just flavoring your meals. Many herbs and spices that are yin are also anti-inflammatory, making these valuable for plant-based eaters, especially athletes. Peppermint is a wonderful herb t0 use during summer. Fresh mint can be added to make simple, Herbal- Infused Water or something a little more decadent like these Raw Peppermint Chocolate Squares. For those with digestive stress, check out how peppermint oil can ease this. Turmeric is another yin spice to incorporate into more of your meals. For an ultra cooling turmeric treat, opt for making this Healing Turmeric Smoothie. Avoid spices and herbs like cinnamon, cayenne pepper and ginger as these are considered more yang.
Keeping the Balance
There are many other yin foods to help you stay cool this summer. Incorporating foods like leafy greens, mushrooms, kiwi and healthy oils into more meals can help regulate your body. Make sure to check out these other 10 foods to help you keep cool. It’s also important to add in neutral foods to recipes such as whole grains and beans. The key to truly keeping cool is to find a balance between the yin and yang foods you eat. Beyond food, staying extremely hydrated and releasing sweat through daily exercise are crucial ways to keep cool.
Share your favorite yin foods that can help combat summer heat with us, Green Monster! How do you balance out your yin and yang?
Lead image source: Cucumber Pasta With Creamy Avocado Sauce and Nori Flakes