Being a tropical country, the Philippines doesn’t really have to deal with drastic changes in temperature the way other countries do. However, we do have a summer season (one that almost seems perennial) where the mercury can reach levels that are uncomfortable, to say the least. So with summer just around the corner, The Urban Food Collective thought it would be a great idea to give out some tips on what to feast on and what to avoid in order to stay cool once the weather gets warmer!
FEAST ON THESE!
The following foods should be stocked in households across the country during these hot months. Known for their cooling properties, these can definitely help take the edge of a hot Philippine summer day.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should be a part of anybody’s diet, regardless of the time of year. But during summer, this “food family” plays an important role beyond providing us with our daily doses of vitamins and minerals – they provide much needed hydration. During these hot months, our bodies scream for water and fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of H2O.
Cooling Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices such as cilantro, marjoram, and ginger actually help cool down the body. These delicious ingredients will not only add great flavor to your best summer dish, but they’ll also provide much needed relief from the heat.
This breakfast favorite should also be added to your list of summer favorites. Just like cooling herbs and spices, yogurt refreshes and cools down the body.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to eat hot, spicy food on a sweltering summer’s day, getting a bowl of chili can actually help. Eating spicy foods will bring your body’s temperature up, which opens up your pores, causing you to sweat, which in turn cools your body naturally.
Taking a page out of Chinese medicine, which considers seafood as “cool”, we should all feast on the ocean’s bounty at the height of summer. As one of nature’s “cool foods”, seafood helps balance out any heat in your system.
This one is a no-brainer! If you’re tired of just plain old water, try adding a slice of vegetable or fruit, or a sprig of your favorite herb to add cool, natural flavors to your glass of water. Tasty tip: freeze your favorite herbs or fruit slices in ice cube trays. It’s best to boil the water and leave it to cool completely before adding it to the trays and freezing. When looking to revitalize your usual glass of water, just add in a cube for a cool, refreshing drink!
Light and Quick Cooking
One key to summer cooking is “quick and light”. Do away with heavy casseroles and deep-fried dishes for now. Instead, quickly sauté or lightly steam your food. Better yet, if possible, eat your food raw and fresh. Summer is perfect for salads!
Unfortunately, many of our favorite foods really don’t help battle the summer heat. While we’re not saying to avoid these foods completely (because really, that would be unthinkable!), you should limit these foods as much as possible during summertime.
Large Quantities of Meat, Dairy, and Processed Foods
We know, Filipinos love their meat, and cheese, and SPAM! But these foods require a lot of work to digest, in the process producing heat (a process known as thermogenesis). This obviously does nothing to help cool the body.
Caffeinated and Alcoholic Beverages
Sorry, time to cut back on the coffee, soda, and beer. These beverages are diuretic in nature, which means they increase the body’s water excretion; taking away much needed hydration from the body.
Ice Cream and Ice-Cold Beverages
Just like spicy foods in the previous section, this may seem counter-intuitive. However, eating foods that are lower than body temperature will actually be counter-productive. While these foods initially cool down the body, eventually after (15-20 minutes) the body will actually heat up to bring itself back up to the physiological body temperature of 98.6F.
Heavy Cooking Methods
Heavy cooking methods such as baking and deep-frying should be kept for the cooler months. And ironically, barbecuing, a favorite summer past time, should also be limited.
So there you go! Just a quick guide to what and how we should be cooking and feasting this summer. While we know that many of the “Limit These!” dishes and foods will still be prevalent around the country (c’mon, who doesn’t like to barbecue slabs of meat on a beautiful summer day with an ice cold beer in hand?), we should at least balance them out with the food that will do our body good during these hot months.
Happy summer everyone. Time to hit the beach!