It's all about the bitters this summer! What? That's the headline?!? They must mean it's all about swimming pools, suntans, coconut cocktails, and vacations. Typo anyone? Nope. It's true. In addition to summer fun, this season is all about bitter foods, herbs, and drinks. Why? Great question. Summer is the hottest season of the year and bitter is the most cooling taste.
According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes. Pungent, sour, and salty are all warming, and sweet, bitter, and astringent are all cooling. Ayurveda teaches us to eat to create balance. During the summer months, too much heat can lead to anger, impatience, rashes, heartburn, eye sensitivities, acne, profuse sweating, excess oiliness, liver/gallbladder issues, and hot flashes. We want to mitigate this by adding in sweet, astringent, and especially bitter foods to systemically cool the body.
What does this look like in practical terms?
It may mean you have a berry fruit salad with shaved coconut for breakfast, a summer salad with plenty of cucumbers for lunch, and a huge plate of stir-fried greens for dinner. Your mid-day snack may be a refreshing aloe vera smoothie.
This is the season for eating melons, berries, grapes, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini, which all have a cooling effect on the body. Add a teaspoon of turmeric or fenugreek to your stir-fries and summer soups. These bitter herbs will restore balance to your internal thermostat. Sip on water with slices of cucumber, aloe vera juice, and even coconut water to stay refreshed.
In addition to adding in your bitters, avoid heating foods such as chili peppers, garlic, tomatoes, radishes, onions, and excess coffee, alcohol, and red meat. These foods will dial your thermostat way up.
Try this amazing bitter and cooling drink to keep yourself in balance when the heat starts to rise!
Aloe Vera Smoothie Recipe
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk
- 1 medium aloe vera leaf (filleted) or ½ cup aloe vera gel
- ½ cup fresh or frozen and thawed blueberries
- ½ cup fresh or frozen mango chunks
- ½ tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 handful of fresh basil
Place all the ingredients into your blender and blend on high until nice and smooth.
Looking to supplement your summer with bitter herbs? Try turmeric, neem, aloe vera, nettle, bitter gourd, fenugreek seeds, and basil (or tulsi). You can take these herbs in capsule form, or get creative by adding basil to your salads, aloe vera to your juices, turmeric to your stir-fries, and fenugreek to your morning hot cereal.
When the summer sun starts blazing down, your skin sizzles, and your emotions feel hot, remember to add bitters into your diet to stay cool and refreshed.