In the scorching summer months, nothing feels as refreshing as a cool breeze, an icy drink, or a mouthwatering dish that helps beat the heat. While air conditioning can provide exterior relief, Mother Nature has given us a variety of cooling herbs and spices that can help combat the sweltering temperatures from within. From invigorating beverages to revitalizing salads, let’s explore a range of botanical delights and their cooling properties that can bring relief to your body and soul.
When it comes to cooling herbs, mint reigns supreme. Its invigorating aroma and refreshing taste make it a popular choice for many cooling recipes. Mint contains menthol, a compound known for its cooling sensation. This herb can be used in various forms, such as fresh leaves, dried leaves, or even as an essential oil.
Try our Fruity Mint Chiller for a refreshing beverage. Or how about a watermelon mint salad? Just combine juicy watermelon cubes with a handful of fresh mint leaves. Add a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of lime juice for a tangy twist. This vibrant salad is a perfect summer treat, hydrating and cooling you in an instant.
Cilantro, a leafy herb with seeds known as coriander, is not only a culinary delight but also a cooling herb. These vibrant green leaves are packed with essential oils that lend a refreshing taste to any dish. Cilantro is rich in antioxidants and has been used for centuries to promote digestion and alleviate heat-related discomfort.
Try our Zesty Cilantro shrimp on your stovetop, or grill some Cilantro-Lime Shrimp Skewers. Just marinate succulent shrimp in a zesty blend of cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and spices. Grill until the shrimp are opaque and begin to curl and serve with a side of cooling cucumber-yogurt dip.
With its delicate fronds and distinctive licorice-like flavor, fennel adds a cooling touch to recipes. Fennel seeds are renowned for their cooling properties and are often used in traditional remedies for digestion and to soothe inflammation.
Try our Fennel and Red Pepper Salad, or one with fennel and refreshing chilled citrus? Combine thinly sliced fennel bulbs with segments of juicy oranges, grapefruits, and a handful of fresh mint leaves. Drizzle with a light citrus vinaigrette for a revitalizing salad that bursts with flavors.
A prized spice in many cuisines, cardamom offers more than just an exotic aroma and a distinct taste. It is known to have a cooling effect on the body and is often used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to balance heat.
You will love our Cardamom-Ginger Quinoa Bowl recipe. Chef also loves Cardamom Iced Chai: Brew a pot of strong black tea with crushed cardamom pods and a pinch of cinnamon. Sweeten with honey or sugar and allow it to cool. Serve over ice with a splash of milk for a fragrant and invigorating summer drink.
Although technically a vegetable, cucumbers deserve a spot on this list due to their incredible cooling properties. Composed of over 90% water, cucumbers are hydrating and help replenish electrolytes lost through perspiration. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, making them a fantastic addition to any cooling recipe. Here’s a simple refreshing Cucumber-Dill Salad.
And if you want to work on your knife skills, as Chef Marshall always advocates, how about a Cucumber Gazpacho? Chop half of your ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, garlic, and fresh herbs (such as dill or parsley) and blend the other half. Chill the gazpacho for a few hours before serving, allowing the flavors to meld together. This chilled soup is a refreshing way to beat the heat and nourish your body.
The Cooling Effect
The herbs and spices we mentioned contain natural compounds that help lower body temperature, promote perspiration, and aid in heat dissipation. Menthol, present in mint, stimulates cold-sensitive receptors in the skin, triggering a cooling sensation. The essential oils in cilantro, fennel, and cardamom possess natural cooling properties that provide relief from the heat. Additionally, the high-water content in cucumber not only hydrates but also cools the body.
When the temperature rises, incorporating cooling herbs and spices into your culinary repertoire can be a delicious and effective way to beat the heat. Mint, cilantro, fennel, cardamom, and cucumber offer a variety of options to explore in both sweet and savory recipes. From refreshing salads and invigorating beverages to chilled soups and tantalizing marinades, these botanical delights will not only tantalize your taste buds but also help cool your body naturally. Embrace the power of nature’s cooling arsenal and savor the delightful flavors of summer while staying refreshed and revitalized. With these tips you will love the way you feel!