Fire is the most Yang season of the years and its element is summer. This is the best time to bring into play the principle of Yang: (outdoor) activity, lightness, growth, and expansion. This is also the best time to enjoy time in the sun and to rise early – in other words, summer is the time to “put your heart into it.” This is also the season when many vegetables and fruits ripen. These foods generate body fluids and cool us down because they are light. During this season, consuming heavy foods can cause sluggishness, especially in the intestines.
Food preparation this time of year should be flavorful and light. This is due to the warming nature of Yang: you can utilize a variety of produce to create spice and a colorful palette on your plate. To induce sweating, slightly fiery and pungent spices (such as cayenne), which naturally cools the body, can be a great addition. This time of year, short-term simmer, steam, and sauté are the best cooking choices since they use little heat. (Barbecue, which, at this time of year is a popular way to cook, can dry out food. To keep food from drying out cook foods coated in moist sauces or wrapped in foil).
Summer is the time to care for the Small Intestine/Heart organ system by keeping cool in the heat of this season. Fresh, cooling foods such as salads (lightly coated with lemon juice, vinegar, or olive oil and not soaked in heavy dressing) summer squash, fruits (tropical, melons, berries), and cucumber can keep cool your body temperature. Take warm showers and drink beverages warm/hot to induce sweating. You may need to replenish those lost fluids caused by sweating by taking in sufficient amounts of electrolytes and water. Also, the intense summer, combined with eating too many raw, cold foods, can weaken Digestive Fire. While eating cold foods such as ice cream during the summer months can cool us down and be very tempting, they actually cause stagnation of digestion and contraction.
Some Bitter Flavor Foods
Functions: Damp dry, resolve Phlegm, descending (Yin); clear arteries of mucus deposits (Heat-Phlegm, which depletes body fluids that, in turn, harden and dry blood vessels); eliminates Heat by inducing bowel movements; calms (mind/spirit isn’t housed in the Heart causing insomnia).
Foods: quinoa, rye, wheat bran, oat, amaranth; burdock root, asparagus, carrot greens (tops), chicory root, dandelion, celery, and most dark, leafy greens; turnip, rhubarb, green bell peppers, parsnips, bitter almond, walnuts, some green and black teas, vinegars (these are also sour).
Herbs/Spices: Echinacea, coriander, celery seed, alfalfa, cumin, chamomile, white pepper, valerian root, hops.