As summer quickly approaches, we are naturally falling into a new rhythm as a family. Mealtime has moved from the kitchen out to the deck. Later sunsets mean bike riding into the evening hours and thus dinner and bedtime have been pushed back. And it’s getting hot in the house which means we have started to minimize our indoor cooking activities. On days that hit 95, we have a no indoor cooking rule, which means the rice cooker gets plugged in out on the deck, the grill gets fired up, and anything else we eat will be raw.
When the weather gets warmer, our bodies do not have to work so hard to maintain warmth. The heavy, cooked foods of winter are unnecessary; we are able to break down and absorb less processed foods more easily during the summer. In chinese medicine, this is called “digestive fire”. The stronger our digestive fire, the more efficiently our digestive tract will work. When the body does not have to put energy into warming itself, there is more energy available for digestion. For this reason, raw and lightly cooked foods become easier to utilize during the summer.
In addition to this, we are starting to get some of the fun stuff out of the garden (or farmer’s market, or even local delights from the supermarket). When the produce is local and fresh the nutrition contained in these foods will be optimal. Especially during June, the produce available here in Colorado tends to be of the “get to it quick!” variety. We are harvesting peas, strawberries, lettuce, chard, and fresh herbs from the backyard right now. These are not storage vegetables; I find that even overnight in the fridge significantly diminishes the quality of these foods. What we see with our eyes and feel with our tongues is true; nutrient content will plummet the more we wait or cook any of these foods. My recommendation is straight from the garden to your mouth with as little fussing as possible in between!
Enjoy moving into the bounty of summer. The veggies are fresh, our bodies are ready, so get out the wooden bowl and get ready for salad time!