“Some people change their ways when they see the light, others when they feel the heat.”

— Caroline Schroeder

The blazing temperatures and drenching humidity of an unrelenting heat wave are a challenge for even the most conscious of cooks. Extreme weather conditions can lead to short tempers, exhaustion, skin irritations, dehydration and rising blood pressure! Keeping physically and emotionally cool becomes a compelling challenge.

Keep cool in the kitchen by cooking any baked goods very early in the morning, or leaving the oven off entirely and focus on enjoying raw foods. This is the season of superb local produce and now is the time to utilize these excellent ingredients in salads, smoothies, juices, sandwiches and snacks that require minimum prep time and virtually no cooking.

The rich bounty of fresh vegetables, fruits and berries that will be available for the next few months provide an ideal opportunity to incorporate cooling, healing and soothing foods into your diet. By consuming these ingredients in their raw state, you enjoy pure, unadulterated taste sensations.

Summer's cooling bounty: cucumber.

Summer’s cooling bounty: cucumber.

What could be more cooling or captivating than crisp, delicious cucumbers? With 95% water content, cucumbers are wonderfully hydrating and supply rejuvenating benefits for the body, inside and out.

A natural beauty aid, cucumbers can bring relief to tired, swollen eyes. Take a moment to lie down and place a cucumber slice over each eye. Five to 10 minutes later, you will feel greatly refreshed. Cucumbers contain ascorbic acid and caffeic acid, which assist with easing the discomfort of sunburn, dermatitis and water retention. Consuming cucumbers will result in luminous glowing skin, due to the high silica and water content. Cucumbers may also contribute to prevention of gum disease, improved nail appearance, as well as enhanced hair growth.

When choosing cucumbers from the market, look for vibrant green skins and feel for firmness. Avoid any that are squishy or soft. Do not wash until ready to use and store in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. When ready to eat, wash well and if you are able to tolerate the peel, leave it on, for a rich dose of fiber that will help regulate blood pressure and bowel regularity. Crunchy, delectable, fresh cucumbers are a good source of potassium, which promotes muscle flexibility, as well as magnesium, which relaxes muscles and nerves and keeps blood circulating smoothly.

Keep cool as a cucumber as you prepare your delicious summer life!

Cooling Cucumber Facial Mask

(1 treatment)

1/2 cup chopped cucumber

1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 small handful fresh mint leaves

1 egg white

In a blender, blend all ingredients to a smooth paste. Chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Apply in an upward motion to neck and face. Rinse off with warm water, then a splash of cool water.

Cool as A Cucumber Salad

Serves 4-6.

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 minced, seeded jalapeno pepper (optional)

2 minced garlic cloves

4 medium cucumbers (washed and thinly sliced)

1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion

2-3 tablespoons each chopped fresh mint, basil and cilantro

4-5 tablespoons roughly chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Mix together first six ingredients. Put cucumbers,onion and herbs into a large bowl. Toss with the dressing until well coated. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add peanuts and serve.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP,  “ The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate foodand wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing fresh, natural ingredients and super simple, extra delicious recipes. She also conducts cooking demonstrations fro many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net. Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com.