Foods That Cool You Down… Really! December 19, 2017
When you think of cooling yourself down by eating and drinking in the summer months, your mind probably goes straight to things like ice creams and ice blocks, fresh juices and soft drinks, things that give you that immediate cold hit. But what if we told you there were other foods that cool you down more efficiently overall by working well on the inside?
Would you be excited? You would?! Well, good news, because that’s what we’re telling you!
For instance, have you ever heard the expression “cool as a cucumber”? Well, it turns out that’s not just a nice little piece of alliteration, there’s actually a physiological reason behind the popular turn of phrase. For starters, cucumbers are around 95% water, so munching on one on a hot day could certainly help cool you down, giving you a hit of vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, copper and manganese too in the process. Bonus item after bonus item; what a benevolent veggie!
Not content to just cool you down through hydration, cucumbers also possess a handy anti-inflammatory called fisetin that can help block pro-inflammatory enzymes, thus reducing puffiness, redness and irritability, so people putting cucumber slices on their eyes for beauty’s sake may start to make sense to some of you. Leaving the skin on cucumbers ensures you’ll be eating all the dietary fibre contained within too. This and the high water content help aid digestion, leaving you feeling fresh and pure, like a mountain stream… or something of that nature.
Similarly, zucchinis, which look quite a bit like cucumber’s distant cousin (but are actually a type of summer squash), are also full of water, light, refreshing and have a high dietary fibre, vitamin C and manganese count. It is also low in calories and can aid in reducing high cholesterol levels and thus good to keep weight off, ensuring you won’t be sweating when flaunting that summer beach body! Also like the cucumber, you can just bite right into one straightaway, so a cooler temperature is not far off. Just make sure to give it a good wash first!
What should come as no surprise is the cooling capacity of lemon. Lemon is an exceptionally prevalent ingredient in many cooling summer foods and drinks, like lemon sorbet or lemonade, and with good reason, as it has a wide-ranging number of cooling effects. Much of what allows certain foods to cool you down is a high percentage of water, and while citrus fruits like lemon certainly have a healthy concentration of water, lemon’s ability to add a more palatable taste to plain ol’ water can encourage you to drink more of it, thus hydrating you further than if you were sick of drinking it straight up.
Lemon also has immune-boosting properties and is well known to prevent indigestion, ensuring your body doesn’t have to work so hard to process foods. If your body is healthy, relaxed and functioning easily, you’re less likely to overheat. So, squeeze a bit of lemon on your dinner and in your drink and it’s smooth sailing. In fact, the same can be said for leafy greens such as kale, romaine lettuce and spinach (both the regular and baby varieties), which are high in water and high in nutritional value, meaning the only real energy your body has to exert while digesting them for you is applauding you for making great choices!
There are other ways of cooling your body down with food though, not always relying on hydration and anti-inflammatory properties. You might’ve heard people say that chilli can cool you down. “Chilli?!” You say. “But that’s known for being hot!” You’re right, it is. And given the right conditions, that’s exactly how it works to cool you down!
The hypothalamus in your brain is basically the thermostat for your body. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chilli, triggers the hypothalamus, causing you to sweat primarily around the head and neck. The reason your body does this is an attempt to cool your body down by sweating, allowing windflow to cool your skin and provided the humidity is not too high, the sweat to evaporate rather than stick around to become an inconvenience. In a dry heat, this process can be so effective that the initial heat endured will be far outweighed by the eventual cooling of your body that it will work even better than just consuming a cold drink. Maybe that’s why it’s got the word “chill” in it!
So, follow along with these recipes and you’ll be well on the way to a delicious, nutritious, cool and comfortable summer!
Haloumi & Zucchini Cakes with Lebanese Bread Crisps & Cucumber Salad
Cooling zucchini, cucumber and lemon as well as creamy yoghurt? This dish is guaranteed to drop the mercury. The key to perfect cakes is to squeeze out as much water from the zucchini as you can, so don’t skimp on that step!
- olive oil
- zucchini 1
- haloumi 180g
- garlic 1 clove
- dill 1 bunch
- parsley 1 bunch
- lemon 1
- Lebanese bread 1 piece
- walnuts ¼ cup
- plain flour 1/3 cup
- milk 2 tbs
- egg 1
- Greek yoghurt 100g
- cucumber 1
- baby spinach leaves 180g
1. GET PREPPED
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fanforced. Finely grate the zucchini and squeeze out the excess moisture with clean hands or a clean towel. TIP: Squeezing out the moisture is important to ensure your batter is not too wet. Grate 1/2 of the haloumi and slice the remaining haloumi into 1 cm cubes. Peel and finely grate the garlic. Finely chop the dill leaves. Finely chop the parsley (leaves and stalks). Slice the lemon into wedges.
2. TOAST THE BREAD
Slice the Lebanese bread into quarters and place on the oven tray lined with baking paper. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then flip over, add the walnuts to the tray, and return to the oven to continue baking for 3-5 minutes, or until the walnuts and the bread are toasted.
3. MAKE THE BATTER
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the grated zucchini and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until the moisture has cooked out. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Transfer the zucchini to a large bowl and add the grated haloumi, the dill, the plain flour, the milk, the egg and the parsley stalk. Squeeze over the juice from a lemon wedge, season with a pinch of pepper and mix until combined.
4. FRY THE HALOUMI CAKES
Return the large frying pan to a medium heat and add enough olive oil to coat the base. Once hot, place large spoonfuls of the batter into the pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until golden. Flip and cook for a further 1 minute, or until cooked through. Set the halomi cakes aside on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up excess oil. Repeat with the remaining batter. Once all of the cakes have cooked, add the haloumi cubes to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, tossing regularly, until browned.
5. MAKE THE LEMON YOGHURT
In a small bowl, add the Greek yoghurt and squeeze in the juice from a lemon wedge (add as much or as little lemon juice as you like depending on your taste preference). Season with a pinch of pepper and stir to combine. Finely slice the cucumber. In a medium bowl, add the cucumber, the baby spinach leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and pepper and toss to coat.
6. SERVE UP
Divide the haloumi and zucchini cakes and the cucumber salad between plates. Sprinkle over the toasted walnuts and the parsley leaves. Serve with the Lebanese bread crisps, a dollop of the lemon yoghurt and the remaining lemon wedges on the side.
Sticky Caramel Pork with Soy & Sesame Noodles
- olive oil
- pork loin 300g
- red onion 1
- garlic 2 cloves
- ginger 1 knob
- baby bok choy 1 bunch
- Asian greens 1 bunch
- long red chilli 1
- Hokkien noodles 260g
- coriander 1 bunch
- spring onion 1 bunch
- Chinese five spice 1 tsp
- brown sugar 2
- water 1/3 cup
- fish sauce 1 tsp
- soy sauce 2 tbs
- sesame seeds 1 tbs
- sesame oil 1 tbs
1. GET PREPPED
Cut the pork loin steaks into 1 cm cubes. Finely slice the red onion. Peel and finely grate the garlic. Finely grate the ginger (unpeeled). Roughly chop the baby bok choy and Asian greens. Finely slice the long red chilli (if using). Rinse the Hokkien noodles under cold water to separate and then drain. Roughly chop the coriander leaves. Finely slice the spring onion.
2. COOK THE PORK
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the pork cubes and cook for 2 minutes, or until just browned (the pork will finish cooking in step 3). Remove from the pan and set aside. Add another drizzle of olive oil to the same pan and add the red onion. Cook for 3 minutes, or until softened. Add the Chinese five spice and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Reduce the heat to low.
3. MAKE THE CARAMEL SAUCE
Add the brown sugar, water(check the ingredients list for the amount), fish sauce and 1/4 of the soy sauce to the pan with the onion. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and stir to dissolve. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Return the pork cubes to the pan and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until cooked through.
4. TOAST THE SESAME SEEDS
While the sauce is cooking, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, or until golden.
5. ADD THE NOODLES
Add the garlic, ginger, baby bok choy, Asian greens, 1/2 the long red chilli, Hokkien noodles, sesame oil and the remaining soy sauce to the pan with the sesame seeds.
6. SERVE UP
Divide the soy and sesame noodles between plates and top with the sticky caramel pork. Sprinkle over the coriander, the spring onion and the remaining long red chilli. Enjoy!