One of the delights of summer is the joyful abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables on grocery shelves—or growing up out of your garden. According to Ayurveda, sweet fruits and bitter greens help pacify Pitta dosha. According to the scientific community they also protect us from falling ill.
An international research study conducted by the University of Adelaide found that people who consumed a diet high in fruit, vegetables and certain grains had a lower risk of developing not just one but multiple chronic conditions including anemia, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, hepatitis, coronary heart disease, asthma, stroke, fracture and cancer. The study found that people who eat a higher amount of fruit are less likely to develop any chronic disease, while a high intake of vegetables helps prevent people with one chronic disease from developing a second.
In addition, numerous studies at Harvard and other research facilities in the United States and Europe found that individuals who ate more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day had roughly a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke compared with individuals who ate less than 3 servings.
So pile your plate high with these health-creating foods! Here are a few summer recipes to try out:
Asparagus and /or carrots with lemon-herb sauce
Steam your chosen amounts of asparagus and/or carrots to the point where they are “fork-friendly”. This means a bit more than al dente but not soft or mushy. Then pour the following lemon-herb sauce over the vegetables.
Juice one lemon. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of honey (use only unheated honey). Mix together in a blender with a few leaves of fresh basil and mint. Puree until smooth.
This side dish goes well with dal, rice, curries and other Indian dishes.
Combine in a mixing bowl:
1 cup fresh yogurt
1/4 cup cucumber (peel and dice finely_
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and grated
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (the leaves of the coriander plant)
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
salt to taste
Cooling Mint Tea
1 cup fresh peppermint leaves
1 quart boiling water
1 quart room temperature water
2 teaspoons sweetener
Pour the quart of boiling water over the mint leaves. Cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain the tea into a pitcher or glass jar. Add cool water sweeteners. If you are adding honey, make sure the water has cooled down first. This is a great drink for aiding digestion. Drink at room temperature for maximum assimilation. Remember that iced and chilled drinks dampen our digestive fires, making it difficult to properly digest our food.
If your lawn is full of dandelions, stop complaining and start picking. Dandelions are one of the most nutrient-dense plants you can eat. Their leaves, when young and tender, have a slightly bitter taste like arugula. The older the pant, the more bitter the greens. Before you start picking, be sure that the yard in which the dandelions are growing has not been treated with chemicals.
1 cup dandelion greens, washed and dried
8 large leaves of butter lettuce, washed and dried
1/2 cup feta cheese or goat cheese, chopped or crumbled.
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
sweetener to taste (just a bit is needed)
1 tomato chopped
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Boiling the dandelion greens is better for older, larger leaves as it removes their bitterness. Some even recommend boiling the older greens twice: once for 2 minutes, drain and boil again for 2 minutes.
For information on consultations with Ayurveda experts and learn more about your individual mind/body type, visit The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa: