Here are 10 cooling summer foods your children will love to load up on:
Who doesn't like juicy, cooling watermelon? They may be available all year round at supermarkets nowadays, but it still is a treat to see the fresh local ones in stock when the summer rolls around. The bright red ones are usually the sweetest. Made up of 92% water, they are great for hydration and help clean out toxins from the body too. The Vitamin A content keeps the skin looking good. Here's a tip, look for one with a yellow splotch and which seems to be heavy for its size (there's a good chance it will be ripe and sweet).
Here's a fun fact: Did you know that tomatoes are scientifically classified as a fruit and not a vegetable? Yes, that is correct. They help prevent skin pigmentation and tanning, something like a natural sunscreen. You could make a tomato juice or just serve raw slices as a salad or a snack.
The saying 'cool as a cucumber' doesn't come out of nowhere! This vegetable is popular on Indian dining tables as part of the 'green salad'. Summer months also bring in a cousin called 'kakdi' which is long and thin. Cucumbers help cool the body and have fiber which keeps constipation at bay. If your child is being fussy about food, just leave a bowl of cucumber sticks on her table and watch them disappear.
4. Yogurt/ Dahi
My daughter could eat yogurt for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And my Punjabi mother couldn't be happier. Yogurt is Punjab's answer to the scorching heat. Lassi accompanies each meal as does raita or just plain dahi. The probiotics are great for digestion and the yogurt keeps the body cool from within. You could top it off with some sugar or better still, add in some fruits, it's a treat kids love.
5. Mint Leaves/ Pudina
Some of my most vivid memories from summers spent in my grandmother's house in Ludhiana are flavours. And the foremost of those is a chutney she used to make with mint, raw onion and a pinch of sugar. The cooling chutney was the perfect antidote to the sun outside. Research now backs what my grandmother always knew. Mint helps reduce gastric acids and thus 'settles' the tummy.
Raw onions are a staple on my plate, I just can not do without them. Thankfully, my nutritionist votes for them too, so it's a win-win. Onions have amazing cooling properties, especially when eaten raw. Some kids may not like to eat raw onion, you could make a chutney with mint and sneak them in or else even cook pyaaz ke parathe (parathas stuffed with chopped onion, salt, cumin powder and coriander leaves).
7. Coconut Water
For kids and adults alike, coconut water is something of an elixir. The subtle taste is a hit with children (who love to scoop up the malai at the bottom too) and it packs in potassium, electrolytes and plenty of nutrients, keeping the body hydrated and healthy. Try to buy fresh coconuts and not the packaged coconut water off supermarket shelves.
8. Khas Sherbet
Often found in the refrigerator of many Indian households, khus sherbet is something of a national craze when the summers come around. Do not get confused between khus and khus khus. The former is a lovely fragrant herb with a woody aroma whereas khus khus refers to poppy seeds. Khus helps to relieve thirst and burning sensations. Ayurveda suggests that it is great to strengthen the digestive fire and cool the mind and the nervous system too. The green colour in store-bought sherbets is added artificially, see if you can make your own khus sherbet at home with the dried herbs instead.
9. Lime Water/ Nimbu Pani
Pass up those ready-made juices and make your kids fresh nimbu pani when they come back from play. Kids love the tangy flavour and the Vitamin C helps build their immunity. Like many of these amazing foods on this list, lemon aids digestion and helps cleanse the body from within.
10. Fennel Seeds
I am a firm believer that traditions usually have their roots in sound logic. We often end our meals (and thus, I this list) with half a spoon of saunf or fennel seeds. What you may not know is that this is not just a mouth freshener. Fennel seeds aid digestion by preventing acid flux and stimulating intestinal fluids. The perfect way to end a good meal.
About the Author:
Harnoor Channi-Tiwary is a marketing specialist who wandered into the world of writing and never left. For more than a dozen years, she has been writing about food and travel. Harnoor steered the editorial direction for NDTV Food till January 2017 as Head (Content) prior to which she worked with Marryam H Reshii on the Times Food Guide 2014 and authored an e-book amongst other notable works. She blogs at TheThoughtExpress, tweets as @HCdines and now lives in Singapore with her husband and six year old daughter (who's first word reportedly was 'yummy' and not mummy).
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