3 COOL HERBS FOR SUMMER AND DELISH RECIPES TO MAKE WITH THEM
You’ll Want to Stock Your Fridge With These ASAP
Temperatures are rising, kids are out of school, and backyard cookouts are in full swing. That’s right, it’s officially summer.
But as temps get higher, it’s important to remember to balance out that heat with some cooling foods. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), different foods can have one of five different temperatures: hot, warm, neutral, cool, and cold. Since the goal of TCM is to keep ourselves balanced and in harmony with nature, it’s a good idea to stock up on cold and cooling foods during the sweltering summer.
In TCM, food that has cooling or cold properties is chock-full of Yin energy. That means it’s associated with things like the moon, the earth, women, coldness, darkness, and rest. Foods with yin energy help to get rid of the extra heat and dryness that comes along with during the summer months. To keep cool even as temperatures rise, here are 3 herbs to have in your fridge and some delicious recipes to make with them.
Cooling Herbs For Summer Heat
Mint (Bo He)
It probably comes as no surprise that mint is a cooling herb in TCM. Most of us in the western world are familiar with this refreshing plant and the cooling menthol it naturally contains. Also known as Bo He in TCM, mint isn’t just for gum and mojitos. It can also help with digestive issues, make you feel more alert and focused, and calm an upset stomach. Plus, it adds a bright, fresh zing to any dish or drink!
According to TCM, mint is a pungent, aromatic herb that is connected to the Lung and Liver. It’s used by TCM practitioners to clear out wind heat in their patients, and is often prescribed to help with headaches, sore throat, itchy skin, and even anxiety thanks to its ability to get rid of Liver qi stagnation.
If you want to keep it simple, you can brew up some mint water. Here’s the quick and easy recipe:
- ¼ cup of peppermint or Chinese mint leaves
- Clean your mint leaves and remove them from the stems.
- Heat a cup of water until boiling, then remove from heat.
- Place mint in the water and let it steep for 20 minutes.
- Wait until the water cools down to room temperature, then combine it with 7 cups of cold water in a serving pitcher.
- Refrigerate for an hour, then enjoy!
If you’re in the mood for something minty to munch on, try this watermelon mint salad.
- 1 small watermelon, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of lime or lemon juice plus zest
- ¼ cup of mint leaves
- 4 ounces of feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- Remove the rind and chop up your watermelon. Place in a bowl.
- Add the zest of one lemon or lime to the bowl along with chopped mint, lemon or lime juice, and olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Top with crumbled feta.
- Mix, and enjoy!
The watermelon in this recipe adds an extra cooling, hydrating boost that makes this the perfect summertime salad.
Chicory (Ju Ju)
Chicory doesn’t get used very much in the western world (other than in Cafe Du Monde’s special blend of coffee), but it should be! It has a toasty, nutty flavor that’s strangely similar to coffee. Plus, it’s known for boosting digestion and helping you lose weight by controlling hunger urges thanks to a compound called inulin.
In TCM, chicory is known for its ability to clear out food stagnation (aka it will get your bowels moving) and get rid of dampness. This delicious herb targets the Bladder, Spleen and the Liver which can help balance your emotions, especially if you’re feeling super stressed out or sensitive. If you have trouble finding chicory, dandelion root can be used the same way.
Lots of people use chicory root to make a coffee-replacement that helps move their bowels in the morning without all the caffeine that a cup of Joe comes with. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for a chicory “coffee” that will help keep you cool and collected, sans caffeine.
- 1 Tablespoon of roasted or ground chicory root
- 2 cups of water
- Milk or sweetener to taste
- Heat water until it simmers, then remove from heat.
- Add the chicory root to the water. To make clean up easier, you can place it in a reusable tea strainer.
- Allow the chicory to steep for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea strainer or pour the drink through a sieve into your favorite coffee mug.
- If you want, add milk or a sweetener and enjoy!
Oregano (Niu Zhi)
If you’ve ever made an Italian dish, odds are good you’ve cooked with oregano. It’s a popular herb in Mediterranean cuisine and it’s loaded with health benefits. Studies have found it’s chock-full of antioxidants that help fight free radicals and lower inflammation. It’s got anti-bacterial properties and there’s even reason to believe it can help fight cancer!
As a cooling herb, it’s used in TCM to clear out heat and help boost qi circulation. TCM practitioners prescribe it to their patients to help with everything from PMS to bronchitis. So if you’re looking for a delicious way to add some oregano to your diet, we have the perfect recipe for you: oregano pesto!
- 1 cup of fresh oregano
- ½ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup of raw almonds or pine nuts
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- In a food processor, combine the washed oregano, grated cheese, peeled garlic cloves, and nuts.
- Pulse until just combined.
- As the food processor runs, slowly add in olive oil until the sauce becomes smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add your sauce to fresh pasta or place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
Ready to beat the heat with these cooling herbs and delicious summer recipes? Try them out and let us know what you think!