Brutal. That's how I would describe the heat and humidity thus far this summer. I don't recall even having Spring here in NYC. It went straight from about 60* to 90* once June hit. And since that didn't seem to be hot enough for me, I decided to head further south to FL for some additional torture the other week. If you've never been to FL in the summer it feels something like walking into a wall of heat. It stops you dead in your tracks. I've been brutally reminded of the importance of proper hydration the past two weeks, especially post exercise in this weather, whether indoor or outdoor. I returned from a bike ride along the beach and my aunt commented that I looked as if I stepped straight out of a magazine or tv ad. My back was wet and glistening. And no, I had not just jumped out of a pool. I was drenched in sweat --- and LOVING it. For the same reasons I do hot yoga and prefer no air conditioning while working out (Which is why I don't really like working out in a gym. I do it but always wish I could ask the manager to turn off the air and all the fans in the joint. C'mon ladies with the make up and hair spray. A little sweat will do your skin wonders!), I love working out in 95* heat with a shit ton of humidity. If I'm going to sweat, I might as well pour. Which is also how I've uncovered some great recipes and drink concoctions to stay cool this summer. If this weather is any indication of what the rest of the summer is going to be like, it's gonna be a LOOOOONG, HOT one. Just how I like it.
Some drinks I've found quite refreshing and their recipes, if necessary, are below.
ICED PASSION TEA:
Bags TAZO herbal PASSION tea
(if you prefer a slightly caffeinated version, you can experiment with adding one or two bags of a green or white variety tea. I've done a white rose tea and a green lemongrass, both of which added a nice flavor with limited 'jitters'.)
4 cups boiling water
Stevia and/or agave nectar
Really, what could be easier? I've become addicted to this concoction this summer. Place tea bags in heat resistant container and add about 3 tsps of Stevia. I also add a little agave nectar. Play with your sweetener amounts. Depends on how sweet you like your tea. Pour the water over the tea bags and let sit for at least 20 minutes (I usually do longer). After steeping, remove and squeeze tea bags to ensure all flavor is eeked out! Begin to add ice, as the liquid will be quite concentrated. Chill in refrigerator and pour over ice anytime you need a refreshing lift. It's been the new staple in my fridge. Actually, I'm going to pour myself a glass now!
Something else I live off year round, but love it more in the summer, is the SYNERGY brand of Kombucha. Sadly, there has been some controversy over their truth in labeling the amount of alcohol (naturally occurring in all Kombucha due to the fermentation process) which has caused the company to pull it from the shelves of many major outlets (including all Whole Foods and most natural health food stores). I may have to resort to making my own again. Not the most space efficient task, but it definitely saves my wallet from being consistently drained! If you're interested in how you can 'grow' this healthy, amazing tonic yourself, click here.
Another great pick me up tonic, perfect for pre or post workout, is an Apple Cider Vinegar cocktail! Pour yourself some cold lemon or lime flavored sparkling water, add one to two tbsps. of Apple Cider Vinegar (I find Bragg's to be the best and they are the most well-respected brand), depending on how you like the taste, and a splash of cranberry juice. Easy and SO refreshing.
Of course, you can't beat coconut water in this heat. The best way to enjoy it is right out of the shell, but I know that isn't always the most convenient or easiest way to get the good stuff. However, in my humble opinion, it is the best. Need to know how to open your coconut? Watch this. Of course, when I do it, I'm much less graceful and mine does end up everywhere, but whatever works to get to the good stuff. Other options? Buy one of the many varieties you find on the retail shelves these days. My favorite is Amy and Brian's, as I feel theirs tastes most like the real deal. They even sell one with the pulp! Delish. I also like VitaCoco or O.N.E. brand isn't bad either. Yes, coconut water really IS nature's Gatorade supplying electrolytes and potassium to the body in a most tasty way!
And to beat the heat in the kitchen, and save time, I've really been wearing out my food dehydrator. You can slice apples, (or any fruit for that matter!) and toss them with a little bit of agave and cinnamon, pop them in the food dehydrator and a day later you have healthy homemade apple chips! It sure beats using an oven. I've also been dehydrating onions, mushrooms and zucchini and they make great add ons in salad, if they ever even make it that far. I tend to eat them right of the dehydrator tray! You can learn more about food dehydrators here. Mine is an Excalibur and I LOVE IT!
Ok, one more recipe and I'm done. It's too beautiful of a day to be sitting inside typing anymore! This is SO simple and healthy. Who wants to end up slaving in the kitchen during the dog days of summer? This literally takes about 5 minutes and will keep in the fridge for a few days.
Simple Broccoli and Avocado Salad:
1-2 heads fresh broccoli (Broccoli is not one of the 'Dirty Dozen' so it doesn't HAVE to be organic, although I will always recommend that. But hell, who am I kidding? I don't always buy organic either. And there you have it.)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Avocado (same with the broccoli with regards to 'organic')
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Super simple. Lightly steam the broccoli for about 3 minutes and until it's bright green (nothing worse than mushy broccoli!). Place in large bowl. With a small spoon, begin to carve 'chunks' of avocado and add to bowl. Add olive oil and juice of lemon and toss while still warm, as the heat from the broccoli will begin to 'melt' the avocado and combine with the lemon and olive oil to make a nice 'dressing'. Add salt and pepper to taste. Seriously. That's it. You could get creative and add some slivered almonds, or a little bit of red quinoa. Or just eat it out of the bowl. You can serve it warmor cold, in the air, in a chair. Speaking of chair, I need to get out of mine and get my ass outside! ENJOY SUMMER!