The temperature is raising, summer is in full swing. In TCM Five-Element theory, summer is ruled by the fire element. The season's long days are all about vitality, passion, expansion, joy, and movement. Fire is yang, so generally speaking, people with excess yang energy tend to have a harder time coping in the hotter months. Excess fire energy can also consume body fluids; leading to overheating, breakouts, irritability, digestive upsets, heartburns, insomnia and rashes.
The scorching heat makes it tempting to reach for ice-cold refreshments. Contrary to popular belief, these frozen treats won’t really help the body cool down effectively. It may feel satisfying in the moment, but eating ice-cold food actually consumes more energy from the body, to be heated up to body temperature before assimilation can take place. This can slow down digestion and metabolism, and redirect essential energy used for the immune system or temperature regulation.
From a TCM perspective, for the Stomach and Spleen meridians to function properly, the “digestive fire” needs to be maintained. Cold and damp food damage this “digestive fire” and result in sluggish digestion, malabsorption, bloating, gas, bowel movement issues, and stomach pain. Similarly, this can also causes fluid retention (dampness) in the body manifested in terms of weight gain, chronic phlegm, sinus pressure or brain fog to name a few.
Living in rhythm with the season is the key to body and mind balance. Instead of choosing foods with low temperature, go for ones that have a cooling effect on the body. Some examples are watermelon, cucumber, mint, celery, coconut, barley and yogurt.
Below is my favorite summer recipe of all times. This easy to make chilled soup takes under 10 minutes, and does not involve any laboring over a stove. A traditional Bulgarian recipe, I first tried this chilled soup in Varna, and immediately fell in love with it. This well balanced recipe include cucumber and yogurt that have a cooling nature and clear heat from the body. Dill benefits the Stomach and Spleen meridians, while sprinkle of garlic and black pepper warm up the digestive tract to ensure proper assimilation. Moreover, you’re getting a healthy dose of probiotics from the yogurt to replenish your gut flora.
CHILLED YOGURT DILL SOUP
- 1 large English cucumber, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- 2 cups plain Greek (or Bulgarian) yogurt
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-2 garlic clove, minced
- Pepper and salt to taste
- Squeeze of lemon juice
Simply mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the water as the last step a little at a time, till the desired consistency is reached. Serve chilled.