Staying Cool and Zen in Summer

Ulli Allmendinger
Aug 14, 2017 · 3 min read

It’s summer in Istanbul and it’s hot and humid! As a Vata, I usually love the heat and take a humid Istanbul summer day any time for an August day in rainy cold Frankfurt that can feel like November. And yet, the heat of summer poses its own challenges for our bodies and minds. It is Pitta season, the season of the fire element according to Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old medial system from India that I practice. Each season corresponds to one constitutional type: summer is Pitta (fire/water), fall and early winter Vata (air/ether) and spring Kapha (earth/water). And each season’s harvest actually provides exactly what we need to balance our bodies during that season.

Just as hot weather can increase your internal heat — causing irritating symptoms such as headaches, heatstroke, dehydration, rashes, or diarrhea — it can also mess with your emotions, provoking anger, irritability and short-temper. Imagine being stuck in an overcrowded bus in Istanbul traffic with no AC. A nightmare!

So it’s good to have a few tools at hand to help cool down body and mind and ease the doshas during this challenging season. In order not to further aggravate summer heat, avoid the following:

· Overly spicy foods, especially chilli peppers and cayenne

· Oily (fried) foods

· Heavy meat stews

· Alcohol

· Coffee

· Nuts (especially salted and roasted)

Let’s look at how you can use the traditional wisdom of eating with the seasons to cool your heat and get your feeling more balanced this summer. You may want to incorporate more of the following during the summer months:

· Juicy summer fruits (especially melon and watermelon)

· Leafy greens and fresh herbs (arugula, mint, dill, parsley, cilantro)

· Cucumbers

· Cooling grains such as Basmati rice and millet

· Cooling beans such as mung beans

· Coconut water and milk

· Chia seeds and chia seed water (chia fresca)

· Cooling herbal teas such as mint, rose, chrysanthemum and licorice

Here are two recipes using chia seeds for optimal summer hydration:

VANILLA COCONUT CHIA BREAKFAST PUDDING

Chia seeds are amazing superfood packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They lubricate the intestines and hydrate the body, thus ideal for Vata and Pitta constitutions. You can add a milk of choice — I usually use coconut or almond milk but rice or regular organic raw milk work equally well.

Serves 2

1/2 c chia seeds

2 c almond, rice, coconut or regular organic milk

2 Tbs maple syrup

1/2 ts vanilla bean seeds

Topping

2 Tbs gojji berries

2 Tbs crushed walnut pieces, roasted

1–2 Tbs coconut flakes, roasted

Instructions

1. Mix chia seeds, milk of choice, maple syrup and vanilla seeds in a bowl or jar. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but ideally overnight.

2. The next morning, take out the chia pudding and let it come to room temperature (in winter you can add a few tablespoons of hot water to make it warm).

3. Lightly roast coconut flakes and walnut pieces in a pan over low heat.

3. Serve the chia pudding topped with nuts and gojji berries and another optional drizzle of sweetener.

CHIA FRESCA

This is a lovely hydrating beverage for hot summer days. Try it and you will love it.

Serves 2

2 c water or coconut water

1 Tbs. chia seeds

½ ts fresh lemon or lime juice, to taste

1 Tbs cooling sweetener such as maple syrup (optional)

Instructions

1. Add chia and water into a jar or glass and stir very well to combine. Let sit for at least 15–20 minutes to allow the chia seeds to swell up. Best to use a jar with a lid so you can shake it up well.

2. Add lime or lemon juice and sweetener to taste. Stir (or shake) well to combine and enjoy!

Ulli Allmendinger

Written by

Ayurvedic practitioner, health enthusiast, foodie, and writer.