Cooling Foods of Summer with Bonus Recipe!

The wise nourish life by flowing with the seasons and adapting to cold or heat, by harmonizing joy and anger in a tranquil dwelling, by balancing yin and yang, and what is hard and soft.
— The Neijing Suwen, an ancient Chinese medical text that has been treated as the fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two millennia.

We have entered the energetic season of Summer and the Fire element (May 6 to July 9) according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

In the summer, we tend to naturally gravitate to cooling (yin) foods. Now is the time when local cooling organic fruits and vegetables are in abundance. If you eat in harmony with the season, you're going to feel and do better!

The warming and cooling properties of a food have less to do with actual temperature, cooking temperature, spiciness or even individual ingredients—and more to do with the food’s balance and contrast among ingredients and the effect of these on the body when the food is ingested. (

Here's a list of Cooling Foods for the Summer Courtesy of

  1. Apricot
  2. Cantaloupe
  3. Watermelon
  4. Strawberries
  5. Tomatoes
  6. Lemon
  7. Peach
  8. Cucumber
  9. Orange
  10. Asparagus
  11. Sprouts
  12. Bamboo
  13. Bok choy
  14. Broccoli
  15. Chinese cabbage
  16. Corn
  17. White mushroom
  18. Snow peas
  19. Spinach
  20. Summer squash
  21. Watercress
  22. Seaweed
  23. Mung means
  24. Cilantro
  25. Mint
  26. Dill
  27. Bitter gourd
  28. Mung beans
  29. Wax gourd
  30. Lotus root
  31. Lotus seed
  32. Job’s tears
  33. Bean sprouts
  34. Duck
  35. Fish

Watermelon Cooler Recipe

  • 2 cups watermelon flesh
  • 1 cup young Thai coconut water (C2O brand in health food stores is good!)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • raw blue agave to sweeten and to taste

Run a few seconds in a high speed blender with some ice and enjoy.

The First Day of Summer Was May 6 (We'll Tell You Why)

While June 20, being the summer solstice, is widely regarded as the first day of summer this year, the summer solstice marks the longest day of the year but is not necessarily the best indicator of the first day of summer!

Traditional Chinese Medicine, a time-honored practice dating back to more than two centuries before the common era, follows the principles set forth in the Wu Xing, also known as the Five Element Theory. In the Wu Xing, we are given the dates for the four seasons plus "between season" periods.

Traditional Chinese thinkers were fond of pondering the cyclical aspects of nature with the repetition of days, moons, seasons and years as they observed the effects of those cycles on all living organisms. Humans, like animals and plants, are affected by nature’s cycles, so it is not surprising that the study of nature was the first basis in their understanding of vital energy. Knowing that there can be no effect without a cause, the predictable seasonal patterns pointed to the existence of a cause.

Unlike ancient Greeks and Egyptians who attributed cause to the whims of various gods, the Chinese simply saw chi (energy) as the mover of matter but not as a deity. They saw this energy being responsible for cyclical and predictable stages and changes. They evolved the more complex and subtle Law of the Five Elements which includes the energies symbolically named Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water and the multiple aspects of their interrelationship.

The ancient Chinese saw how the cycles of the seasons profoundly impact everything from weather to plants and crops, animals and even human mental well-being. They surmised that to each season corresponds a specific energy that influences all life forms. They concluded that in addition to the cyclical movement of yin and yang, there must also be changing energies causing, and therefore related to, seasonal changes. They subdivided yin and yang into five phases, also called elements that they named: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. These five phases are also known as the Wu Xing.

In the Wu Xing, summer begins May 7 and ends July 19. Shortly therafter and until August 6 is a "between season" period leading up to the Fall season.

According to the Wu Xing, the 72 days of summer is a period of swelling and flowering, full of energy and fire. The heart and the small intestine are the organs that require focus so that their function may be balanced and in harmony with the season. The emotionality of summer is exuberance and joy.

This summer, be sure to have fun and be joyful. Your time for seriousness comes in the Fall.



Photo by Calvin Lupiya