Just like taking a dip in a chilly pool cools the outside of your body, eating certain foods can help combat steamy weather from the inside.
The best foods to beat the heat are fruits and vegetables made up largely of water. That leaves you with lots of produce to choose from, among them watermelon, melons and broccoli. But you don't have to stop there.
It's not coincidence that in countries around the equator spicy foods are the norm. They get you sweating, which actually lowers your body temperature. So don't shy away from hot peppers, ginger or even horseradish when you need some relief from the heat.
What should you avoid? Ice cream, believe it or not. It seems refreshing, and it is tasty, but your body has to work harder to process the ice-cold treat and that creates heat within.
A frosty mug of beer might also seem like a good way to cool off, but remember that alcohol dehydrates a body. Go easy on the booze or make sure you're drinking plenty of water, too.
The accompanying recipes, from refreshing smoothies to gazpacho and a gingery salad dressing, will come to your aid on a super-swelter day. And we've got plenty of those, don't we?
This thirst-quenching fruit is about 90 percent water so it helps to replenish what you're losing because of heat. There's a nutritional boost, too, with vitamins A and C in the pink flesh, plus some antioxidants. Eat ice-cold wedges for immediate relief or mix it into salads or drinks.
Fast: Crush chunks into a tall glass; add ice-cold soda water and some sweetener if you'd like.
Flashy: Watermelon Waldorf Salad
It may be counterintuitive, but spicy ingredients like fresh ginger, along with hot peppers and horseradish, actually help lower body temperatures by forcing us to sweat. (Though who needs help with that as July yawns into August?) Ginger is also a source of potassium and has long been used to help relieve tummy ailments. In the middle of a sweltering summer, consider it to flavor drinks and add to stir-fries loaded with other watery veggies for a cooling effect.
Fast: Stir into hot tea with lemon and honey.
Flashy: Japanese Ginger Salad Dressing
Those Doublemint Twins were on to something when they touted the refreshingly icy nature of mint, be it in gum or mojitos. There are traces of a few vitamins in fresh mint leaves, but it's really the cooling property as it hits your tongue that offers the relief.
Fast: Muddle leaves into your iced tea.
Flashy: Mint-Honeydew Ice
There's a reason that the mango lassi is practically the national drink of India. The yogurt and mango smoothie is comforting refreshment when the subcontinent sizzles. Mangoes, which are plentiful this time of year in markets and on backyard trees, is another watery fruit. There's added benefit from the fruit's fiber, which slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream and keeps us satisfied longer.
Fast: Add diced fruit to plain yogurt and sprinkle with granola.
Flashy: Mango Lassi
Like watermelon, this salad staple is mostly water, your best ally in the fight again heat. Its natural properties help reduce swelling and bloating, which can occur in hot weather. Besides helping internally, slices of ice-cold cucumber on the eye can reduce puffiness. It's also super low in calories so cukes are a dieter's good buddy.
Fast: Toss slices into ice water for that spa-day effect.
Flashy: Silky Gazpacho
More refreshing foods
Melons. Tomatoes. Grapes. Broccoli. Corn on the cob.
1 cup chopped mango (peeled and stone removed)
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup milk
4 teaspoons sugar, to taste
A dash of ground cardamom (optional)
Put mango, yogurt, milk, sugar and cardamom into a blender and blend for 2 minutes, then pour into individual glasses and serve. Can sprinkle with a little cardamom.
Note: The lassi can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
8 cups cubed honeydew melon
1 ½ cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 ½ cups simple syrup (see note)
4 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Bourbon or rum (optional)
Stir together first 5 ingredients and process, in two batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour mixture into freezer container of a 1-gallon electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. (Instructions and times may vary.) Drizzle with bourbon or rum just before serving, if desired.
Makes 2 quarts.
Note: To make simple syrup, heat equal parts sugar and water in saucepan on stove, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool completely before using.
Source: Southern Living
1 cup chopped red onions
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped English cucumber
1 cup chopped and peeled tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoons chopped garlic
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 cups tomato juice
Sprig of thyme
Balsamic vinegar or glaze (see note)
Mix all the ingredients except the balsamic glaze together in a bowl or other container, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, remove the thyme and blend all the ingredients in a blender until the gazpacho is smooth. You will have about 2 quarts. For a smoother texture, strain the soup to yield about 1 quart. Refrigerate the gazpacho until ready to serve.
To complete: Ladle the cold soup into bowls and splash with balsamic vinegar or drizzle balsamic glaze over top.
Note: Balsamic glaze can be made by reducing 2 cups of balsamic vinegar over a very low heat for about 2 hours. It can also be purchased and is usually stocked near the vinegars. A splash of balsamic vinegar will also add tang to this cold soup.
Serves about 12.
Source: Food Network
Watermelon Waldorf Salad
2 cups cubed watermelon (about ½-inch cubes)
½ cup sliced celery
½ cup seedless red grape halves
Dash of salt
¼ cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
Stir together watermelon, celery and grapes in bowl. Just before serving, stir salt into yogurt for dressing. You may want to add a little water to lighten the thickness. Pour mixture over fruit and stir until coated. Sprinkle with almonds.
Serves about 4.
Source: National Watermelon Promotion Board
Ginger-Carrot With Pineapple Smoothie
4 to 6 ounces almond milk
1 banana, peeled
1 cup fresh pineapple, cubed
2 medium carrots or 1 cup grated/shredded
½ to 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated (to taste)
Start by adding the liquid to your blender, followed by the soft fruit. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.
Note: As with most smoothie recipes, you can easily make this a green smoothie by adding fresh baby spinach, romaine lettuce or your choice of dark leafy green. The pineapple and ginger should do a good job at masking bitter greens such as kale.
Japanese Ginger Salad Dressing
¼ cup soy sauce
1 lemon, juiced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon prepared Dijon-style mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Ground black pepper to taste
1 cup olive oil
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, mustard, honey and pepper. Once these are thoroughly combined, add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly. When all of the oil is incorporated into the dressing, pour into a glass jar and chill until serving.
Makes 1 ½ cups.
Note: Use this dressing for green salads studded with fruit such as strawberries, berries or oranges.