Culinary tricks for beating the summer heat

When it’s sauna hot and sticky outside, it seems the only thing you’re inclined to make for dinner is reservations. Here are some savvy seasonal tips for keeping cool, refreshed and energized — at least until the mercury aligns with normal.

Cool as a Cucumber

Chill with a heap of super hydrating fruits and veggies, especially the cool cucumber. This magnificent water reservoir, a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals dilutes the blood and releases heat. Also loaded with sulfur, the cuke helps flush out toxins via the kidneys.

There’s more. Packed with balancing silica, a full complement of B vitamins to put the skids on stress, and replenishing potassium, this gourd acts like nature’s plastic surgeon, whether you place refreshing slices on your tired and puffy eyelids or eat this cooling food, your skin will be treated to an anti-aging boost.  Whip up a chilled soba noodle and cucumber salad, a cucumber sushi roll, high-tea finger sandwiches with Persian cucumbers and goat cheese or munch on a crispy dill pickle.

Choose melons with high water content like honeydew, cantaloupe and the quintessential fruit of summer, the mighty watermelon, a mother lode of H2O along with tons of Vitamin C and antioxidant-rich lycopene, magnesium and potassium. Try a sweet and savory watermelon Greek salad with crumbled feta and black olives tossed in a zesty vinaigrette, or make melon juice ice cubes to enliven your drinks.

Zesty radishes are cooling roots endowed with potassium and other replenishing minerals to dial up digestion and diminish excess body heat. Other hydrating coolers include tomatoes, dark electrolyte-loaded leafy greens like arugula, kale and spinach, peaches, plums, juicy strawberries and citrus, especially oranges. Grapefruit, although refreshing and rife with potassium is not recommended for those on certain medications or supplements as it tinkers with the pharmacology.

Lemon Law

“Cook” with lemon or other lip puckering citrus juices instead of using heat. Marinating fish or other proteins overnight in an acid mixture will denature the fibers without the need for cranking up the heat. Try a mixed seafood ceviche cocktail blending scallops, shrimp, snapper, chopped tomatoes and avocado in an intoxicating lime marinade.

Spice It Up

Eating fiery foods has been found to hike body temperatures triggering sweating, followed by a cooling down period like a human a/c system. Shred a little fresh ginger, a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, a dollop of wasabi mustard or some hot chilies on everything from grilled chicken and fish to fresh fruit and dips, and perspire away.

Mint Condition

Add some exhilarating minty leaves to your meals. This herb with cooling and soothing properties and an invigorating perfume perks up heat-induced logginess. Create a minty green tea over ice with organic honey and splash of lemon. Put a dollop of mint jelly on your roasted lamb. Toss some fresh sprigs in fruit salad, or chew the leaves straight-up.

Take It with a Grain of Salt

To quickly chill beer bottles and carbonated drinks, simply toss a tablespoon of salt into a small tub of icy water. This will lower the water’s freezing temperature creating an arctic bath for your brewskis.

Chilled Persian Cuke Soup

INGREDIENTS 2 cups Greek yoghurt

• 1 1/2 cups ice-cold spring water

• 1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pistachios, chopped

• 2 Persian cucumbers, diced

• 1/2 cup sultana raisins

• 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint

• 1/4 cup fresh chopped chives

• Meyer lemon zest

• Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

• In a large mixing bowl, blend yoghurt and water. Add nuts, raisins, cucumber, herbs and seasonings. Mix thoroughly. Chill well. Ladle into martini glasses or Champagne flutes and garnish with lemon zest.

For additional recipes, e-mail Catharine Kaufman at kitchenshrink@san.rr.com

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