Summer is the season when you see nature in all its glory
Summer is here! Joy of joys.
We have included some delicious desserts and snacks as well a rich tomato sauce which can be used to create many dishes. We hope you have a summer of fun and creativity and also relaxation and rejuvenation.
Written by – Karen Scobie
Edited by Julie Hanson
The Fire Element Heart and Small Intestines
The planted seeds and the flowering trees of the spring are starting to grow and bear fruit. This is when we see an abundance of all life. Looking and living with nature brings flow to us as human beings. We are part of the land in which we live and the fruits that are grown in the country in which we live are at their absolute best nutritionally. Fruits and vegetables, grown and picked in season near where you live, have the highest nutritional levels because they have not been stored or shipped. They are also much easier for our body to digest and assimilate according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. This makes sense if you think about it. If you grow your own vegetables imagine the benefits.
Summer is a yang season, it is the season of expansion, growth, lightness, outward activity, brightness and creativity. If you have planted a seed, in business or a new idea for your life journey we see these ideas starting to grow in the summer months, often because we feel better and have more light and warmth and in general eat a lighter diet. Summer is a time of enhanced energy and this can enable these new ideas to flourish and grow.
The summer months are a time for motivation and our mood lightens, (often due to more Vitamin D delivery), waking up earlier, going to bed later because of the longer days and still having all the energy you need to sustain these longer hours. If we follow the season and eat with the seasons, the body often responds better as each new season arrives. It is true that most fruit and vegetables are available all year round, because we fly them in from all over the world, however, eating out of season for long periods of time can have a detrimental effect on how our body reacts at certain times of the year. Our bodies are no longer tuned into the seasons and we can’t get the benefits that each season brings.
The season is all about digestion ( as well as Heart health) and the small intestine and how the environment of both of these organs are key to the absorption of the food we eat. This environment is often knocked out by stress and eating the wrong foods. If the small intestine has a bacterial overgrowth then you may find that your whole system is out of balance and that instead of feeling motivated and raring to go in the summer month that you have lack of motivation and fatigue.
Summer is the time for salads
sprouted seeds, fruit, cucumber, tofu (we have included lots of yummy tofu recipes this month!), flower and leaf teas. If you are damp (have a white coating on your tongue) and forming mucus remember to keep drinks warm and not full of ice, warm your salads by adding a warm dressing or have hot food with your salad. You can add warming spices but watch your chilli consumption as these will disperse heat. If, however, you are too hot and can’t cool down, you can add a little extra chillies as this will aid sweating and will naturally cool the body down. Hot liquids will do this too. Drinks with ice will push the heat in. Remember how your granny always told you to have a cup of tea if you were too hot?
Foods like meat, eggs, and excesses of nuts and seeds and grains may cause sluggishness on a hot day. So BBQ’s maybe not a great idea if you want to keep your energy upbeat and focused. If of course, you are looking to slump into a food coma then they could be the very thing!
We usually want to eat less on a hot, bright day and this is a healthy practice
Here hoping we get a lot of hot days! The heart is part of this time of year and the Chinese believe that the heart and the mind are interrelated and that they work in harmony when the body is in harmony. It has been known for many years now that a plant based diet will prevent and even cure heart disease, this ties in with summer and the abundance of plants at this time. So the summer could be a good time to experiment with adding a lot more plant based food into your diet, or even trying the 30 day 100% plant based challenge. Some of the signs of Heart/ Mind imbalance are: Scattered and confused mind, excess or no laughter, speech problems, a ruddy or pale face, depression, Loss of memory, poor circulation, so watch out for any of those issues. We wish you a joy filled, happy and productive summer with lots of time off to relax and rejuvenate!
The Spotlight this Month – Basil
Basil now grows in many regions throughout the world, but it was first native to India, Asia and Africa. It is prominently featured in varied cuisines throughout the world including Italian, Thai and my favourite, Vietnamese. The name “basil” is derived from the old Greek word basilikohn, which means “royal,” reflecting that ancient culture’s attitudes towards an herb that they held to be very noble and sacred. The tradition of reverence of basil has continued in other cultures. In India, basil was cherished as an icon of hospitality and there are several types of basil, one of which is called Holy Basil. In Italy, basil was seen as a symbol of love.
The round, often pointed leaves of the basil plant looks a lot like peppermint to which it is related. Its highly fragrant leaves are used as a seasoning herb for a variety of foods.
How to Select and Store
Whenever possible, choose fresh basil over the dried form of the herb since it definitely has a superior flavour. The leaves of fresh basil should look vibrant and be deep green in colour. They should be free from darks spots or yellowing.
Even through dried herbs and spices like basil are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore the local spice stores in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in supermarkets. Just like with other dried herbs, when purchasing dried basil, try to select organically grown basil and get it as fresh as possible. Most dried herbs will last just over a year and it is a tradition in herbal medicine to throw away last year’s harvest once the new harvest becomes available.Research studies on basil have shown unique health-protecting effects in two basic areas:
- Basil’s flavonoids and volatile oils.
- DNA protection plus anti-bacterial properties
The flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level. These flavonoids are known as orientin and vicenin, they are water-soluble and in studies on human white blood cells; these components of basil protect the chromosomes as well as other cellular structures from radiation and oxygen-based damage.
In addition, basil has been shown to provide protection against unwanted bacterial growth. These anti-bacterial properties of basil are not associated with its flavonoids, but instead with its volatile oils. The oils in basil are shown to restrict the growth of numerous bacteria, including : Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli O:157:H7, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Essential oil of basil, obtained from its leaves, has demonstrated the ability to inhibit several species of pathogenic bacteria that have become resistant to commonly used antibiotic drugs (Opalchenova and Obreshkova, 2003).
Basil’s volatile oils has been the subject of extensive study, since this substance can block the activity of an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase (COX). The fact that basil has this enzyme-inhibiting effect qualifies basil as an “anti- inflammatory” food that can provide important healing benefits.
Nutrients Essential for Cardiovascular Health
Do you want to enrich the taste and cardiovascular health benefits of your pasta sauce? Add a good helping of basil. Basil is a very good source of carotenoids such as beta-carotene which is also known as “pro-vitamin A,” since it can be converted into vitamin A. Beta-carotene is a powerful anti- oxidant as it not only protects epithelial cells from free radical damage, but also helps prevent free radicals from oxidising cholesterol in the blood stream. Only after it has been oxidised does cholesterol build up in blood vessel walls, initiating the development of atherosclerosis, the end result of which, could be a heart attack or stroke.
Free radical damage is a contributing factor in many other conditions as well, including asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The beta-carotene found in basil may help to lessen the progression of these conditions while protecting cells from further damage.
Basil is also a good source of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health by prompting muscles and blood vessels to relax, thus improving blood flow and lessening the risk of irregular heart rhythms or a spasming of the heart muscle or a blood vessel. In addition to the health benefits and nutrients described above, basil is also an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, a very good source of copper and vitamin C, and a good source of calcium, iron, folate and omega-3 fatty acids.
The Healthiest Way of Cooking with Basil
Since the oils in basil are highly volatile, it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process, so it will retain its maximum nutrient content and flavour.
Snack of the month
- 1 cup cooked short grain brown rice
- 2 tbsp shoyu (or Tamari – Gluten Free) 1 pack firm tofu (smashed)
- 1/2 cup ground almonds
- 1/2 cup Gluten free bread crumbs
- 1 cup sunflower frying oil
Place the shoyu or tamari and the mashed up tofu into a blender and add about 3/4 rice and blend into a thick paste. Place the remaining tofu into a bowl and add the blended mixture along with the almonds, bread crumbs and remaining rice. Using your hands form the batter into 1 inch balls. Bring the oil to the correct temperature (until it is dancing) and deep dry until the balls are golden and crunchy.
This is really an amazing feel good comfort snack! A source of energy, in the form of protein and carbohydrate.
Main course of the month
- 1 medium onion – chopped
- 1 clove garlic (optional) – crushed
- 1⁄2 red pepper – finely chopped
- 1⁄2 green pepper – finely chopped
- A handful of shiitake mushrooms – soaked and stalk removed and finely chopped
- 1 tin of organic chopped tomatoes
- 1 tspn dried basil or 2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
- 1⁄2 tspn paprika
- Sprinkle of cayenne pepper (optional) not too much as it is hot.
- 1⁄2 tbsp of marigold low salt veggie bouillon
- 1⁄2 cup of red or white wine (optional)
- Some ground black pepper
Add olive oil or rapeseed oil to the pan with the vegetables and garlic and heat gently until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes, stock and spices including black pepper. Cook for about 20/25 mins and then blend with hand blender. If you feel it needs salt at this stage you can add a pinch of sea salt or another teaspoon of bouillon. You can add the basil at the same time as the spices, however, I do remember being told that the tradition in Italy is to add the fresh basil at the end of cooking, because they believe that cooked basil can create some carcinogenic compounds. I haven’t been able to find any more information about this, however, the sauce tastes just as good when the basil is added at the end.
You can use this with any meat or veggie dish or you can use it to make some Bean Chilli with it just add a little more cayenne pepper and a variety of beans. You can always thicken and bulk up the sauce by adding some very finely chopped courgette.
Dessert of the month
- 6oz 70-100% cocoa chocolate coarsely chopped*
- 1tbsn vegetable oil
- 12oz soft tofu, well drained
- 1⁄4 cup of maple syrup
- 1⁄4 cup of soya or almond milk (unsweetened) 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1⁄4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp tahini
- Fresh strawberries or raspberries to serve
* I use 85% cocoa content chocolate
Heat chocolate and oil in a bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. Whisk until smooth. Remove pan from water and let cool for 20 to 30 mins. Meanwhile cut tofu into thick slabs and place on triple layer of paper towels. Press firmly on tofu to press out as much water as possible, change paper towels if necessary. Put maple syrup, soya milk, lemon juice, vanilla extract and tahini in a food processor. Crumble tofu into the mixture, and puree until smooth, scraping down sides with spatula as necessary. Add melted chocolate and process until well blended. Transfer pudding into 6 dessert glasses or small bowls. Cover each with cling film and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, or until softly set.
To serve, top with the fresh fruit. This dessert has the wow factor, is a good source of protein and is excellent for children and entertaining. It is much better option than most of the chocolate desserts you can buy in the shops.
This Recipe is from Macrobiotics for All Seasons – Written by Marlene Watson-Tara