The Energy of Summer
It has been beautiful this past month, with the transition from Spring to Summer. The drenching rain came, allowing for sustenance to the precious mother earth we all call home and the warmth of the sun’s rays upon the hide of all that are alive comes into fruition.
This is the time of year for farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) baskets, giving rise to fresh fruits and vegetables. There is nothing like tasting freshly picked produce, the natural flavors that nature infuses into the harvest is not to be missed.
In Chinese Medicine, Summer is a yang season and is associated with the fire element. Summer represents the outward expression of energy, activity, expansiveness and movement. Fire governs the Heart and Small Intestine. The emotion is joy, the color red and it is a time for abundance, expansion, light, growth and is the manifestation of all that we have been cultivating throughout the spring. When fire is balanced within the body, the heart governs and circulates the blood properly and the intestines properly digest food. Emotionally one should feel balanced, sensitive and enthusiastic.
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses nutrition as a tool to maintain health and promote healing, it is your best medicine. To maintain balance, one must focus on yin foods in the summer months. Yin foods are wet and cool. Smoothies and salads are yin and are excellent summer meals. Assure to eat moderately, avoiding the heavy large meals that create bloating and fatigue. Bitter foods support the fire element, foods like asparagus, kale, arugula, escarole, celery, rhubarb, tea and even chocolate, (without the sugar) will nourish you during this season, along with apricot, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, lemon, peach, cucumber, orange, asparagus, sprouts, bamboo, bok choy, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, corn, white mushroom, snow peas, spinach, summer squash, watercress, seaweed, mung beans, cilantro, mint, dill, bitter gourd, wax gourd, lotus root, lotus seed, job’s tears, bean sprouts, duck and fish.
The essence of Traditional Chinese wisdom is to live in harmony with the seasons. We can see that most animal life is extremely instinctual with this rule and this is the very basis of its spirit, living in synchronization with nature and one’s environment. In Chinese Medicine, we also look at prevention of dis-ease. Hippocrates got it right when he said, “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” The use of food when used correctly builds up the body when deficient, cleanses it when toxic, and releases it when in excess. With this connection to nature and our body’s needs, we can then fortify our bodies, minds and spirits and be in tune with ourselves at a much deeper level granting us healthy, happy lives.
Here is a yummy smoothie that will cool you down on those hot days.
Strawberry Grapefruit Spinach Smoothie
1 grapefruit, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cups hulled fresh or frozen strawberries
1 sweet apple (such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady), peeled, cored and chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 cup Spinach
1 cup water
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.