7 right foods for the summer

With hot days and rainy nights, check what’s on your plate. And there is a place for leftover rice too!

Summertime always brings fond childhood memories of summer vacations, lazing around with a good book, ice creams and yummy mangoes. With the temperatures already soaring, looks like we will be having one long and hot summer. Luckily there are some great summer foods and beverages that can help in keeping you cool. Here are some of the foods to include this summer:

Pic: Marisa DeMeglio from NYC USA via wikimedia commons

Water: Dehydration is a common problem during summers and this may be one of the reasons why you feel tired and drained out for no apparent reason during summers. Keep the body hydrated throughout the day with at least 2 litres (10-12 glasses) of water.

Other fluids and beverages: like tender coconut water, fresh lime juice (with a pinch of salt), clear or cold soups, sugarcane juice, fresh fruit juices, aam pannas and thandais can all help in  keeping the body hydrated through the summer. Just make sure not to go overboard with the juices and other sugary drinks as they can add to the calorie count.

Fruits: with the stage set for the King of fruits to make its debut into our humble homes, let’s not ignore the other fruits that are available through summer. Watermelons, muskmelons, grapes, palm fruit (called tale hannu or tateningu in Kannada) are all excellent summer fruits that are also loaded with water. Try eating them rather than making juices/ milkshakes as they are also a good source of fiber.

Salads: the water content in the salad vegetables make them more appealing during summers. So go ahead and bring out the cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes and the kosambaris with every meal.

Fermented rice: this used to be a way to preserve leftover rice for the next day before refrigerators came into our lives. Known as Panta bhath in Bengali, Pazhaya Saadam in Tamil, Pazhan kanji in Malayalam and Saddi Annamu in Telugu, it is believed to help beat the heat. Made by soaking cooked rice in water overnight and eaten the next day after mixing it with curd/buttermilk, onions, chillis and some salt. This fermented rice is supposed to be extremely nutritious and a rich source of vitamins B12 and B6.

Curd and buttermilk: known in India since ancient times as a natural body coolant are not only ideal for introducing helpful bacteria (lactobacillus) into the gut but can also help in enhancing the immune system. Besides this, they also help in providing the much needed calcium which can be lost through sweat.

Ragi: again known to be a coolant is believed to be good to beat the heat.

Try to avoid oily foods and junk foods like pizzas and burgers. These will tend to make the body sluggish as they are more difficult to digest and also slow down the process of digestion. Weight watchers need to keep an eye on the number of sugar laden ice-creams, soft drinks, juices, milkshakes or cold coffees as this could add a substantial amount of calories due to the sugar content.

Here’s a sample diet that you can try out this summer:
Early morning:Tea
Breakfast:      Fermented rice/ Iddli + chutney, Papaya
Mid-morning: Buttermilk + sprouts salad
Lunch: Unpolished Rice or phulkas, Dal + Bottlegourd Palya (sabzi), Cucumber Salad +Curd
Evening: Tender coconut water or Lime Juice, Watermelon
Dinner: Phulkas or Ragi mudde, Soppina saaru (dal with green leafy vegs) + Beans playa, Moong dal kosambari or mixed veg salad, Buttermilk + Grapes

Make sure to drink water throughout the day and keep the cooking light by using less oil and masalas.

How to avoid a stomach upset

Summer is also notorious for food and water borne diseases which cause food poisoning. The most common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. You can avoid this by:

Washing your hands before and after cooking or eating food. Since we eat with our hands, it’s also advisable to keep your nails short.

  • Wash fruits, vegetables and green leafy vegetables well before using them. This is especially important for those foods that are consumed raw (like salad vegetables and fruits).
  • Wash knives and cutting boards after every use and use fresh dish/ wiping cloths every day.
  • Keep food covered so that they are not infected by flies.
  • Leftover food should be refrigerated immediately.
  • Avoid eating cut fruits, salads or other uncooked foods at restaurants or on the street.
  • Carry a bottle of water from home.

Just the right choices, a little care and a little caution! Hope you are having a fun and relaxing summer.

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