I offered a recipe for one of my favourite summer time Salads earlier this week, in answer to inquiries about what to eat in the heat. Then, it struck me that there were lots of dishes and specific foods that could help folks beat the midsummer swelter. Then the heat wave hit…
We have a heat warning in effect here for this weekend and beyond – the first such official declaration for our region this year. Now, everyone I’ve talked to has been asking what they should eat to beat the heat. And it’s important to acknowledge that hydration and cooling go hand in hand.
Surprisingly, you may want to drink Hot Beverages to promote sweating. Evaporating sweat is the body’s natural way to cool itself. The British brought the habit home from their stint as rulers of India and a great swathe of the Far East. It wasn’t that they really liked the taste! Eating hot Curries also produced the same effect. See? There’s an underlying practical reason for everything…
Start with Water – and lots of it
In the movie Flight of the Phoenix, about a group of people marooned in the Sahara after their transport plane crashes in a sand storm, one old desert hand comments: “You can’t carry enough water to walk out of here. For every pint you drink, you’ll sweat ten. Then, you’ll die.” One former U.S. Marine I talked to shared this bit of advice from his old Gunnery Sergeant: “If you don’t have to pee, you need to drink.” A bit extreme, perhaps, but both adages make sense. Keeping well hydrated is at least as important as feeling cool in hot weather.
Plain cold water is a great way – probably the best way – to beat the heat. Have lots on hand. A heat wave may be one time when a fridge full of Bottled Water can be a great solution to the hydration challenge. Just one proviso: Don’t guzzle whole bottles of the stuff down at once. A mouthful or two at a time is the best way to balance your system by ‘topping off’. And drinking Water that’s too cold can result in cramps.
Fresh Fruit is a natural
Fresh Fruits like Grapes, Apples and other juicy selections are great to get both cooling effects and water into your system on a hot day. Eat them off the ice or straight from the fridge. Or freeze them the night before for easy popping throughout a coming steamy day. Ice Cubes made from watered Fruit Juices or including chunks of fruit are a fun way to add variety to hydration on a blistering day.
Perhaps the easiest way to do Fresh Fruit is to buy a couple of seedless ‘Sugar Baby’ Watermelons and stick them in he bottom of the fridge. You may have to cut them up first to fit them into the fridge. If so, just do one at a time. Any time someone wants to cool off, they can just grab a slice. It’s the easiest way for you to prep a therapeutic snack for the heat.
Fruit Salads are also naturals in the hot weather.
Just remember, all Fresh Fruits add a lot of Sugars – albeit natural ones – to your daily intake. A hot day is a great opportunity to get more Veggies into your family’s diet by serving cold Fresh Veggie Beverage blends such as V8 or your own concoctions. Nutrition-rich snacks without all the Sugar of Fruit are also full of flavour and interesting textures from the inherent fibre.
Entré Salads are easy and quick
Like the Panzanella Salad I posted abut earlier this week, other salads are easy to make and provide a lot of much-needed moisture. And they can be turned into main dishes by adding any kind of pre-cooked Protein you wish. Cubed Chicken or Ham, Cheese, or Seafood treats such as Cocktail Shrimp are all classics. And use moisture-rich greenery such as classic Iceberg Lettuce straight from the fridge to cool the whole melange.
Remember: a Salad is only as healthy as the dressing you use on it. Creamy Dressings will add a lot of Calories and Fat to any Salad, and may strike diners as heavy and unpleasant on a hot day.
Serve any food you can cold
That goes for Pre-cooked or Deli Meats, to Sandwich Toppings, to Sauces. And setting out a platter of Sandwich makings is an easy way to prep any luncheon or supper meal – no cooking required on a hot day.
Fresh, cold Raw Veggie Soups are great. Gazpacho is a great example of one that anybody will enjoy.
Now go forth and meet the heat wave…
…With the confidence that only a pocket full of great menu ideas and a true understanding of how to deal with hydration can bestow upon a humble cook!
~ Maggie J.