It’s promising to be a cruel summer, even for those of us not in Delhi and facing scorching temperatures. Hydrating yourself is key to staying healthy during summer. Not only do fruits and vegetables — such as cucumber with high water content — cool you down, but they also ensure that the sugar and water content in your system remains adequate. Headaches, upset stomachs and, of course, sun strokes can all be beaten by ensuring you get enough water, salt and sugar every day. Here are a few ideas to keep cool this season:
Sabja: Sweet basil or tulsi seeds are known to instantly cool you down and are added to almost every drink imaginable. The most popular sabja concoctions are falooda and shikanji — or lemonade and rose sherbets — made using Rooh Afza syrup. While the falooda with kulfi is a favourite summer dessert, it’s the shikanji that is a rage across North India.
Cucumber: With water content of 96.7 per cent, the cucumber makes for great salads and gazpachos — cold Spanish soup. And if you’re too busy to make either, just cut the gourd up, sprinkle some salt and chilli powder and your cooling meal for the day is ready almost instantly.
Tomato: This zero-calorie vegetable makes for a fantastic juice, gazpacho or can just be eaten raw with a dash of lime, rock salt and pepper. With 94.5 per cent water content, tomatoes are also easy to grill or bake in the oven, to be eaten along with your egg-and-bacon breakfast.
Coconut water: Known as nature’s Gatorade, coconut water is packed with five key electrolytes — sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. The best way to drink it is not chilled, but straight out of its shell. This is one drink you don’t want to mess with, although we’ve found that it also makes for some brilliant summer cocktails.
Yoghurt: Be it buttermilk, fish cooked in yoghurt (Doi Maach), lassi, a spiced South Indian gravy (mor kozhambu) or plain, yoghurt is a part of the staple Indian diet. While we love to eat yoghurt through the year, it’s definitely a hydrating food that we all reach out for in some form or the other during the summer.
Watermelon: It’s there in the name — this is the fruit of choice when you think summer. With 91.5 per cent water content, watermelon is also rich in anti-oxidants and can be eaten in cold salads with cheese, juiced or just straight out of the fridge.
Barley: Barley is a fantastic diuretic, lowers bad cholesterol and decreases risk of diabetes. If you need more reason to eat barley, you should know that lemon barley water is one of the most refreshing summer drinks. Made by simmering barley pearls in water, straining the liquid and adding lemon, a dash of ginger juice and sugar to it, lemon barley water is just the thing to beat the heat.
Lemons: No summer drink is complete without the humble lemon. Lemon water flushes out toxins and is a great source of vitamins — including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin B6 — besides other minerals such as zinc and iron. Squeeze it over salads or keep a tall, cool glass of lemonade at hand for instant hydration.
Sattu: Made from roasted gram flour, sattu is high in fibre and instantly energises. So, the sattu sherbet boosts your stamina even as it cools you down. It takes less than two minutes to prepare. Mix sattu in a glass of chilled water, add sugar, rock salt, black pepper, roasted cumin powder and ginger juice. Stir and drink up.
Green peppers: They are the first vegetable you reach out for when you’re making salads and you should know that they’re best eaten crunchy. Green peppers have 93.5 per cent water content, so when you sauté them too much, they lose most of their hydrating properties.