TCM Recipes for Staying Cool In Summer
With Shanghai summer sizzling hot temperatures, spending time outdoors and staying in AC-chilled rooms might not be the only way to keep cool. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), food plays a major role in balancing the body temperature and is part of the treatment plan a doctor would recommend to his patient, along with acupuncture or herbal medicine. Food therapy (食療) is the art of picking certain food items and combining them together to heal the body and restore balance.
During summer, some people suffer from diseases caused by heat and dampness intruding the body such as headaches, heat cramps and heat exhaustion, dehydration, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and loss of appetite. Picking the right foods may be an easy way to cool down the body, suffer less from the heat and stay away from these summer illnesses.
The way TCM categorizes the temperature of food has nothing to do with the temperature it is served, but rather the effect it has on the body and its organs. Cool foods include watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and mint. Fresh and raw foods are good when it’s hot, while one should avoid deep fried foods, lots of meat and sugary, icy drinks (they may sound appealing but they can cause digestive problems). Drink a sufficient amount of water is also highly important to avoid dehydration. Here again, TCM would advise to favor cooling drinks such as peppermint tea or green tea – even served hot!
If you feel like implementing TCM principles in your dish, here are two great summer recipes to try:
Summer Pasta Salad
How does this recipe help cool down the body and support summer health?
- Artichokes lower the heat in the liver and nourish the lung-yin (cooling substance)
- Olives limit abnormal discharge of fluids and other substances from the body, such as diarrhea and heavy sweating -
Zucchini and lemon juice expel heat and dampness from the body
- Basil and oregano promote the flow of Qi and refresh the mind
- Pasta/oregano nourish the body and promote digestion
- Garlic and onion detoxify the body
- Olive oil moisturizes the body
- Tomatoes cool down the body
Tomatoes – 500 grams
Onion – 1 half Green or black
olives– 1 cup
Zucchini – 1 medium
Lemon juice – 1 tbs
Fresh Oregano & Basil – 1 tbsp. each
Pasta – 1lb
Olive oil – 3 tbs
Garlic – 4 cloves
Salt & pepper – to taste
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse under cold water.
2. Wash, cut in half, remove the seeds and slice the zucchini.
3. Chop the tomatoes in 8 pieces. Slice olives in half. Chop the onion.
4. Warm a pan on low-heat and sprinkle olive oil.
5. Add smashed garlic, onion and olives.
6. Add zucchini and tomatoes and turn heat up to medium, stir constantly.
7. Cover and let zucchini soften for about 10 minutes.
8. Add salt and pepper and herbs to taste. Let the mixture cool down.
9. Stir vegetable mixture into pasta, and mix well. Cool in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
10. Add more lemon juice to taste.
This healthy salad can be served along with a refreshing ice mint green tea prepared as follow:
Mint Green Tea
- 1 cup Mint Leaves
- 4 bags Green Tea
- ½ cup Honey
- 2 tbs Lemon Juice
- 6 cups Water
- 1. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring water to a boil
- 2. Remove from heat and add mint and tea bags
- 3. Cover pot and infuse for 15 minutes
- 4. Pour liquid into a large pitcher
- 5. Add honey and lemon juice and stir
- 6. Leave out until it has cooled to room temperature or refrigerate (be careful of drinking too many ice cold drinks)
This drink will hydrate the body and further cool it down by:
- Dissipating heat from the body thanks to the cooling properties of mint and green tea
- Soothing the liver and reducing the amount of body fluids thanks to the astringent properties of lemon
- Nourishing and moisturizing the body with honey
If you’re experiencing headaches, fatigue, digestive problems or other signs of ill health this summer, contact us to make a TCM consultation appointment. Herbal medicines and acupuncture can be very effective in treating seasonal illnesses.