By Dr. Jade Robins, ND
I had a dream sometime last summer that I visited my favorite Thai restaurant and ordered my typical “thai spicy” Panang curry, emphasis on the extra spicy, or “phet mak mak” in the Thai language! To my dismay when everyone else received his or her requested orders, I was delivered a plate of cucumber puree. My waiter insisted that this was what I had ordered and refused to bring me the Panang curry. I ate it with utter discontent and swore to never patron their establishment again. I was then shaken from sleep from the chime of my alarm. As I awoke, I shook my head at the peculiarity of the dream. Since it is rare that I experience such vivid dreams, I reflected on it as I prepared for the day, and it occurred to me that perhaps my body was telling me that I needed to eat more yin foods. I decided to heed this subconscious message and experiment with the theory….and I felt great!
So what is a yin food you may ask? In Traditional Chinese Medicine yin is cooling and expansive vs. yang, which is warm and contracting. The key here is achieving a relative balance between the two. Excess or deficiency of either can lead to health implications, such as inflammation, GI upset, etc. Many ancient cultures share culinary similarities in the context of seasonal eating. In previous generations, you ate what was available to you seasonally. In the winter, dietary staples consisted of root vegetables, squash, aged meats, and high fat. It was not feasible to pop over to the grocery store and pick up strawberries or watermelon in the middle of the winter! These were summer fruits……so you ate them in the summer. Through masterful design, it happens that in general, foods available in the winter tend to be more warming and summer fruits and veggies tend to be more cooling. This comes in very handy when the temperatures reach opposite extremes! We are a society of convenience and instant gratification, but we can certainly learn a lot by rewinding and following the innate, ancient wisdom in regards to seasonal eating and traditional meal preparation. If this concept piques your interest, you may consider perusing “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats” by Sally Fallon, Pat Connolly, and Mary Enig.
So, in the spirit of cooling our summer fire, I offer you this tasty and incredibly EASY recipe, along with a colorful chart to help guide you in choosing seasonally appropriate menu options! (It certainly beats a plate of pureed cucumber!) This is truly one of the simplest, most refreshing meals I’ve made in awhile! Enjoy!
Cucumber and Dill Summer Soup
- 2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
- 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1⁄2 cup filtered water
- 3 tablespoons fresh, chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped basil
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- Pine nuts for garnish
- Puree all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth.
- Chill and serve with grilled chicken, salmon or shrimp as main dish OR garnish and serve as an appetizer.