Nutrition & Recipes

The Health-Conscious Cookbook: Cooling Summer Recipes

The Health-Conscious Cookbook: Cooling Summer Recipes
Ayurvedic healing rests on the simple, yet profound principle that like increases like and opposites decrease each other. So as we look at how to find balance during the hot summer (Pitta) days, we should counteract the weather by including more juicy, cooling foods with high-water content in your diet, while limiting or avoiding heating foods.

Cooling foods include:

  • Grains like white basmati rice, quinoa, amaranth, barley, oats
  • Fruits like melons (especially watermelon), grapes, mango, pears, avocadoes
  • Vegetables like cucumber, summer squashes (zucchini), asparagus, broccoli, leafy greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, sweet corn
  • Meats like chicken, turkey, and fresh water fish.
  • Coconut is especially cooling in all its forms, including coconut water
  • Herbs like cilantro and mint

Heating foods include:

  • Hot spices
  • Alcohol
  • Vinegar
  • Fried foods
  • Tomatoes
  • Yogurt
  • Fermented foods
  • Sour citrus fruits
  • Cheese (especially hard cheese)

The three C’s are a great way to remember cooling foods: Generously use cucumber, cilantro, and coconut liberally in your diet this summer to stay cool. Here are three easy cooling summer recipes featuring the 3C’s; Make and serve each dish as a stand-alone or together as a complete, well-balanced meal.

Coconut Quinoa Rice and Vegetables


  • 5 cups mixed vegetables chopped: carrots and broccoli (use any summer vegetable)
  • ½ tablespoon ginger chopped
  • ½ cup white basmati rice
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Salt to taste

Cook the rice, quinoa, ginger, and vegetables in the coconut milk/water mixture (stovetop or rice cooker) until cooked. In a skillet, dry roast the shredded coconut over low heat until golden brown and fragrant. Add the coconut and salt and gently stir into the coconut/rice/quinoa mixture.

Serve warm with cilantro and mint chutney and/or roasted papads (Indian lentil wafers); Also can be served as an accompaniment for fish or meat dishes.

Makes 4-6 servings

Coriander and Mint Chutney

This chutney (spicy condiment) is a version of the versatile traditional Indian Hari (green) chutney. Use as an accompaniment/condiment to rice and vegetable dishes, as a spread, marinade or dip. One of my favorite ways to use it is in cucumber sandwiches as a spread.


  • 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped - optional
  • ¼ mild chili pepper (jalapeno), chopped, remove seeds to reduce spice level – optional
  • 1 teaspooncumin seeds (optional)
  • Juice of 1 medium sized lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  • Salt to taste


Puree or blend above ingredients in a food processor/ blender to a smooth consistency

Makes approximately one cup

Cucumber, Watermelon & Mint Salad


  • 2 cups cubed cucumber (English or Persian)
  • 2 cups cubed watermelon (de-seeded)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Salt to taste

Combine above ingredients in a bowl. Serve slightly cool. Optional: Sprinkle crumbled goat or feta cheese just before serving

Chef’s note: If making salad ahead of time, do not add lime juice and salt until just before serving

Makes 4-6 servings