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Summer Coolers

As the scorching sun beats down spreading uncomfortable heat all around, our bodies burn, sweat pours down our brows, throat feels parched and tempers get frayed.  All that most of us want is something to beat all that heat. While the temptation would be to reach out to ice cold fizzy drinks thinking that they may rejuvenate us, let me tell you that they do more harm than good. If at all they soothe our bodies it is but momentary, in a matter of minutes you start feeling the heat again. Moreover they leach out the calcium from our bones. And believe me this information is the result of well conducted research. So it is better to take care now than to regret later. 

Leave these aerated drinks in their sealed bottles and instead cool yourself with safe and natural coolers that will not only cool down your heated bodies and souls but also add a sheen to your skin and hair which otherwise take most of the summer brunt. There will be a spring in your feet and you will forget that it is summer time.

Foods to beat the heat

Mother Nature has in her benevolence given us many natural coolants. And what’s more they can be mixed and matched to give you an array of coolers that you can enjoy through the entire summer season. When you go shopping carry a list that has some of the foods that act as coolants. Here is a list of food that helps you stay cool:

Summer Beverages:
Nutritionists recommend yogurt, coconut water and sugarcane juice during summers. Buttermilk and lemon juice are couple of other drinks that help cool the body and increase immunity levels.

#Coconut water: Due to sweating, water and many essential minerals are lost from the body which can make you feel tired and sluggish. Here is where the coconut water comes to the rescue, since it is packed with simple sugars, electrolytes and minerals that replenish hydration levels. Research suggests that coconut water also has anti-ageing and anti-cancer properties.

#Sugarcane juice: Sugarcane juice is especially recommended to those who exercise during summers. Since it contains only natural sugars and high levels of carbohydrates and proteins, it not only cools the body but also energises it. Research says that sugarcane is also beneficial for the functioning of the kidneys, heart and the brain.

#Mango Milkshake: With every mango you eat, drink a glassful of milk. Mango has sugars but no protein. Milk has the latter but not the former. So why not combine them, yeah, a mango milkshake is the right drink to give your body the best nourishment for the summer.

Cooling fruits and vegetables:
Fruits that have high water content and are rich in essential nutrients and antioxidants help in staying cool during the summers.

Mango, the king of fruits which is also a summer special, is considered excellent to beat the heat. Eating raw mango prevents sunstrokes and summer typhoid. Since it contains natural sugar and also prevents constipation, it is highly recommended. Everyone loves the juicy king of the fruits but do you also know that they are enriched with vitamin A that is good for eyesight and also improves formation of healthy epithelium so that you keep away common infections? Now you know.

Enjoy the ripe ones as dessert. Pickle the raw ones and better still boil a few raw mangoes, dilute the pulp with aqua, add a pinch or two of roasted cumin powder and black salt to make delicious panna. Cool yourself down with a glass of chilled panna which will give the colas a run for their money.

Watermelon and muskmelon:
These sometimes take the back seat as mangoes dominate the fruit basket. But if you make it a point to bring home the melons, rest assured, they get polished off in no time. Watermelons and muskmelons are moisture rich fruits that are a boon in the summer especially when someone wants to keep the stomach light. Add them in salads - sweet and savoury - make their juice or bring them in your dessert – all is fair.

It is the time to bring home the pethas, laukis and tindas. They are fresh produce with high water content and if made the right way, make lunch and dinner substantial with curd and chapattis.

Having a cucumber is like sipping a glass of chilled water. It is refreshing and cooling. Rich in potassium and sodium, cucumbers are a boon when the weather gets dehydrating. Have them in a sandwich for breakfast, have them cut as batons for mid morning munchies, have them in the raita for lunch…apply some cucumber juice on your face as a natural bleach and toner, place slices of it on your eyes to provide coolness. Cucumber is a perfect summer food.

Citrus Fruits:
Besides their delicious taste, citrus fruits can help in keeping you healthy and looking younger. Citrus is considered excellent for maintaining a healthy skin due to its wide array of phytonutrients that function as antioxidants, including flavanones, anthocyanins, polyphenols and vitamin C. Citrus is also considered to be especially important in digestion as it helps in the breaking down of rich and fatty foods. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit and sweet lime should be incorporated into the daily diet.

Oranges and lemons are not costing a penny anymore. Lemons are precious commodity in the summer. They are treasure troves of vitamin C and a must in every home. Either have lemonade or use the juice in your dal and veggies. But lemons are something that takes away the brunt of the summer heat. 

Cooling summer food

Mint or pudina definitely add a new dimension to chutneys. And pudina chutney adds perkiness to your sandwiches and snacks. A few leaves of pudina crushed and added to buttermilk leave a lingering tasty coolness on the palate.

Yogurt (curd):
Warm climate causes intestinal infections such as cholera, typhoid, amoebiasis to surface. Eating yogurt helps increase the friendly bacteria in the intestines which promote digestion and boost immunity. Make a fresh bowlful of yogurt everyday at home. Drink it in the form of lassi or as buttermilk but have the yogurt. Have it in raitas or have it plain, but have the yogurt. Even your grandma must have told you it is good for you. 

Ghee is fattening, but it provides a cooling effect to the stomach. So have a little, a few drops, just a wee bit on your chapattis.

Give unique taste  to panna, raitas and buttermilk with roasted cumin powder and also add cumin seeds in the tempering of summer veggies. Cumin not only cools but also adds its interesting two bits to the cooking.

Most of us hated this in our childhood! But, as adults, we know the benefits of having just a teaspoonful of gulkand a day. It is candied rose petals that can be used for its good advantage in recipes too. It is cooling in spite of its sweetness. 

Apart from these foods, vegetables like capsicums, radishes, all types of lettuce and leafy greens like spinach and amaranth, and herbs such as fresh mint help in keeping the body cool. 

Some more tips to stay cool

The summer heat makes it very inconvenient to stay in kitchen, pouring over the hot stove to cook up meals. So plan your menu around the foods that need little or no preparation. And when you feel you have to cook, choose methods like steaming, blanching and sautéing that are quick and also can be done with minimum oil. 

Strange as it may sound a dash of spice can help cool you down. Moderate amounts of fresh ginger, red chillies and black pepper may initially warm you up but actually will help you cool down eventually. 

Have plenty of fluids
Your body needs to be kept fully hydrated so drink plenty of water for there is nothing like pure water to keep your body fluids balanced. Common symptoms of dehydration are dizziness, fatigue, lack of concentration. But remember the choice of fluid is equally important. Sport beverages which are rich in sodium and sugar can actually make you more dehydrated. Also the extremely cold foods and drinks like ice creams and ice candies may interfere with digestion and sweating which is the body’s natural cooling mechanism.

One small word to wind up: 
Meat and heat do not go well together. So also spice laden gravies. If you are a hardcore non-vegetarian, have chicken and fish grilled or in soups. Deep fried stuff like samosas, kachoris and bhajias are a definite no-no. Reserve them for monsoon and winter. All that fat is bad for both your stomach and your skin as they are a trifle difficult to digest. Have some cooling drinks like Kokam and Anar Slush and Chocolate Coffee Ambrosia and for a super dessert try something festive like Lemony Fiesta! So your mantra for the summer season should be: Eat right and light because it provides respite! 

Stay cool and healthy with these summer special recipes. 

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.