Cooling Salads for Hot Days
Warm greetings to my gentle readers who have patiently awaited a new recipe while I took some time off this summer. I’d like to reward you with a quick and easy dish to cool you off during these hot summer days—a satisfying and totally yummy Tofu Salad that even omnivores will enjoy (much to their surprise)!
You can serve this as a side dish to a summer soup, on a bed of salad greens, or as the added protein on a colorful vegetable plate. Hmmm…I’m envisioning sweet potato fries, quick asparagus or green beans, and corn on the cob with a half-cup of tofu salad in the center. If you love a sandwich for lunch, pile some tofu salad on your favorite bread. (The salad’s moisture will be a good balance to bread that has become dry, making it easier to digest.)
Summer guidance from Ayurveda
When the “dog days” of summer arrive in August (or, sadly, much earlier across the globe this year) it is important to eat cooling foods that help your metabolism avoid overheating. You’ll also feel cooler on hot days if you choose cooling foods over those that are naturally heating.
Did you know that symptoms such as irritability, headaches, itchiness and sleeplessness (if you wake 2 to 4 a.m. and have difficulty going back to sleep) are often linked with too much heat in the body? This is the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, which may also be your intuitive understanding. Fortunately, food is our friend when we pay attention to a food’s qualities and the ways these impact our bodies, minds, and emotions.
What are cooling foods?
As you may know, Ayurveda classifies foods in several ways, including whether a food is inherently heating or cooling.
You shouldn’t be surprised to see Ayuveda’s list of cooling foods because we turn to them instinctively when the weather turns hot. Some of the most cooling foods include these:
- Lettuce, cucumbers, celery, fennel
- Summer squash, zucchini, asparagus, kale, and spinach
- Coconut, apples, red and black grapes, and all melons
- Mint, cilantro, coriander, cumin, and rosewater.
Yes, on its own, tofu is naturally cooling. Combine it with other cooling foods such as fennel or celery, cilantro, and mint and you’ll create a perfect summer dish loaded with protein. However, this combination of foods is so cooling that I added some garlic to the recipe, not only for flavor but for a little balancing heat to aid digestion.
Other foods like dates, figs, cruciferous vegetables, and avocado may not seem to be obviously cooling. This is especially true of avocado because many people make guacamole by adding intensely heating ingredients such as raw onions and jalapenos to avocado—making most guacamole something to avoid during the summer! Certain legumes are also cooling, but they are more easily digested when they’re cooked with generous amounts of warming herbs and spices such as fresh garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, and other Indian spices including fenugreek and black mustard seeds.
Just as warming spices can balance overly cooling foods such as legumes, you can enlist the help of cooling herbs and spices any time you cook foods that are inherently heating. For instance, Ayurveda classifies carrots as heating, so I serve carrots with lots of cilantro, mint, and a drizzle of coconut milk to make a perfect summer soup.
Enjoy this cooling Tofu Salad throughout the summer, and always feel satisfied at the end of your vegan meal.
PS Looking for more summer dishes? Try these summer soups: Summer Sweet Potato Soup, Corn and Avocado Soup, Broccoli Carrot Soup over basmati rice, PeanutButter Cucumber Soup, Beet and Fennel Soup, Creamy Zucchini Soup in 20 minutes or less.