These foods can help you beat the heat

06/09/2014 9:59 AM

06/09/2014 10:01 AM

South Florida in June is hot enough. Factor in World Cup fever, and it seems like there’s no way to cool down.

But there is. Naturally.

To beat the heat, Ayurvedic medicine, that ancient Indian body-balancing system, advocates eating foods that are alkaline. They reduce inflammation in the body and act as your personal air conditioning unit.

So what foods are alkaline? Most fruits and vegetables, especially locally grown ones. Subtropical produce can take the heat as it grows yet cool you down as you eat it. You don’t have to remember (or pronounce) ayurveda, or even alkaline, just think mild, sweet-tart and bitter.

•  Mild: Enjoy summer produce mild in flavor but high in water content, like zucchini, summer squash and celery. Melons like watermelon, cantaloupe and their kin the cucumber are also alkaline. This led my husband to make a cucumber martini. Nice try, but an icy martini or a cold beer isn’t cooling. Or alkaline. Like meat, dairy, coffee and processed white sugar and flour, alcohol is acidic and inflammatory. Keep the cucumber, lose the booze. Drink water — lots.
•  Sweet and tart: Summer fruit like grapes, with their sweet flesh and tart skins, and local goodies including mangoes, antioxidant-rich mulberries and all manner of citrus, have that juicy, sweet-tart zing going. Lemons, limes and grapefruit have that acidic sizzle on the tongue, yet create a more alkaline balance in your body. Think of lemonade on a brutally hot day. Summer fruits are fun and refreshing to eat even as they cleanse and cool the body.
•  Bitter: The astringency — that pleasantly puckery sensation — in robust green vegetables acts as a natural cooling agent. Brassicas like broccoli and cauliflower and greens including dandelion and collards are also natural detoxers, decluttering your liver, keeping you feeling light and fresh. Ditch the southern propensity to cook collards with a hunk of pig and simmer them till they’re gray.

In honor of World Cup, enjoy collards the Brazilian way, shredded and tossed with lemon. Known as couve a mineira, it’s served throughout Brazil, with a variation or two, but always simple and vibrant.

We’ve yet to find the vegetable or fruit that guarantees your team World Cup victory, but we can connect you to produce that’ll help you beat the heat. How cool is that?

About Ellen Kanner

Ellen Kanner

@edgyveggie1

A vegetarian since age 13, Ellen Kanner waxes poetic about greens, beans and more in her monthly Edgy Veggie column in the Miami Herald. Kanner shares meals in Miami with her meat-eating but otherwise adorable husband and with readers at ellen-ink.com.

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