It's difficult to think of a more joyful time for eating than the welcoming of the summer! This season - marked by the summer solstice when the sun is at its northernmost position in relationship to the earth and daylight is at a maximum - is blessed with a particularly abundant and colorful array of seasonal foods. Fruits and vegetables of every color imaginable are available during the summer. Fields and orchards are sometimes overflowing with these foods. Our menu should follow suit, and we should make our plates flamboyant with fruits and vegetables of every color. There is no better time of year to put a full palette of food colors on display. The cherry reds of tomatoes, the sun-like yellows of summer squash, and the infinite shades of green - from the rich darkness of zucchini to the airy brightness of a fresh pea pod - all burst into view each summer.
When we think summer, we also think heat. In traditional Chinese medicine, this is the season of the fire element - the expansive yang heat, moving outward, growing, and characterized by brightness and activity. All of this hot energy calls for cooling, and in summer cooling foods should be at the forefront of our meal plan. Salads (both vegetable and fruit) make perfect sense here, with vegetables like cucumber being perfectly suited to offset the summer heat. The cooling fruits like melons also bring with them an unusually large amount of water, helping us stay hydrated in the high temperatures. Cold soups and fruit smoothies also make good sense during summer. The addition of fish or tofu chunks to a cooling summer salad will help maintain protein supplies during the active summer months.
A few meals each week that keep our own fire element well tended to should also be considered. Fresh peppers are abundant during this season, as are fresh ginger and horseradish root. Dotting our menu with some of these spicier seasonings would be a way to preserve our own fire element in this season of fire.
The bright, light heat of summer is almost the opposite of stagnation and sluggishness. Summer is not the time for heavy foods that bog us down. Heavy meat consumption, whole milk and dairy consumption, egg consumption, and fried foods do not make sense here. Lighter foods are the key - especially leafy greens, fruits, and grilled fish. We should also remember the mint teas, like spearmint or peppermint. These fresh mint leaves can also make wonderful cooking additions to salads or soups.
There is no better time than summer to rejoice in the World's Healthiest Foods. Here is the perfect time to start moving in the direction of whole, fresh foods with an emphasis on vegetables and their astounding nourishment. No season makes it easier to jump right into the World's Healthiest Foods.
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