There’s a lot to love about summer — but the abundance of fresh, vibrant fruits and veggies might just win out. June’s arrival is the perfect time to add delicious variety (and nutrition) to your plate.
Luckily, HHA’s resident nutritionist, Joe DelGiodice, is passionate about keeping us healthy, inspired and eating well through every season! This month’s blog is all about superfoods that help us unlock greater levels of energy and vitality, so we can enjoy summer to the fullest. With a background in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Joe also shares his perspective on why certain foods are especially beneficial for nurturing the fire element of summer.
Welcome to fire season!
It probably comes as no surprise that summer is all about the element of fire, in both nature and the body. TCM teaches us that the heart and small intestines are connected to the fire element, and that the heart regulates our heartbeat, blood flow, and pulse. When the fire element is in harmony, there’s a healthy flow of chi — you’re able to access joy and passion in a balanced way.
Food is an incredible way to nourish the fire element on an everyday basis. You can energetically “feed the fire” with hot and spicy herbs and foods, which are great blood flow agents. In equal measure, Joe recommends activating the opposing element (water) with cooling foods to stay properly hydrated.
Here are just some of his favorites!
● Coriander seed
● Chile peppers
● Spicy horseradish
● Sweet tomatoes
“Look at the bright, vibrant color spectrum available to you during this time! This is the aliveness of summer,” Joe says. “All of these pigments are more than just pretty to look at: They provide you with antioxidants, DNA corrective agents and longevity agents. Because free radical activity ramps up in the heat, antioxidants are especially vital to our wellbeing in the summer. Antioxidants work their magic to maintain the health of our cells.”
Joe’s famous tabbouleh summer salad is great for this purpose, and super easy to make. Start wih a mix of ⅔ parsley and ⅓ mint leaf; add cucumber, tomato, lime, lemon, a couple tablespoons of hemp seeds, and organic olive oil.
One of his favorite summer snacks is even simpler: Watermelon seeds! “Watermelon seeds are one of the most nourishing seeds on the planet,” he says. “They’re filled with amino acids, proteins, and nutrients, offering some amazing health benefits.”
Note: If you have diverticulosis or diverticulitis, watermelon seeds should be avoided.
Stay healthy and hydrated
While eating water-rich foods is a great idea in the summer heat, it’s not a substitute for drinking enough water and consuming electrolytes. Lemons, limes, oranges and watermelon are all quick electrolyte sources; Joe also recommends drinking organic coconut water or organic cactus water.
“Electrolytes are crucial for hydration. These minerals allow everything in the body to expand and contract properly, so that oxygen and nutrients get delivered to your cells,” he says. “When we sweat, we lose a lot of important minerals, so replenishing electrolytes is a must in the summertime.”
Joe is also a big fan of herbal teas to keep cool. His favorite summer recipe is filled with nourishing compounds:
● Purified water
● Mint leaves (an organic mint tea bag works too)
● Chrysanthemum flower
● Goji berries
● Lime juice (you can squeeze it in or grate it and add in the zest)
Want more recipes? Visit Joe’s YouTube channel, supernaturalhealth forever, for plenty of delicious and entertaining tutorials. He also recommends the Blue Zones website, which features recipes from the world’s longest-living cultures.
To learn more about nutritional counseling or schedule a session, feel free to contact Joe at (201) 653-7700 ext. 3. He’s helped clients ranging in age from 3 months to 102 improve their health and wellbeing, and is happy to answer any questions you may have.
Thanks so much for reading this month’s blog. Wishing everyone a summer of health, happiness, and wonderful food!
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.