Summer Soba Salad

Michelle's photos - Jan 2015 236

Cool salads are my go-to meals during the summer months. I’m on holidays and don’t feel like spending much time hidden away in the kitchen, and besides, no one feels like eating large, heavy meals in the heat.  With smaller portion sizes it is important that each bowl is packed with health-giving nutrients.

Soba literally means “buckwheat” in Japanese and is also the name of the thin noodles made from buckwheat flour. They are versatile, nutty and make a great gluten free option, as long as they do not contain wheat flour. The health benefits of including buckwheat into your diet are numerous and you can read more over here in a previous post.

This recipe also contains Umeboshi vinegar (it can be substituted but worth the investment). Umeboshi plums are considered the king of alkaline foods, highly respected in Japan for their remarkable medicinal properties in balancing the body and helping with indigestion. It can be used in any salads, just drizzle a small amount of Umeboshi vinegar over some olive oil–  it’s salty so start with only a little and taste from there.

Seaweed is known as an ancient super food and I include some Nori in this recipe to prop up the nutritional values. Seaweed draws an abundance of minerals from the sea. It is high in iodine, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamins C and A, protein, Vitamins B, fibre and, alpha linoleic acid, EPA, and so much more. There are many varieties and it is worth experimenting to find ways of including more sea vegetables into your diet on a regular basis.

When making this salad be sure to create a complete meal. Combine seasonal vegetables with your preferred choice of protein. Good options include pan-fried tofu, grilled fish or a poached egg. My children prefer a boiled egg on the side (not pictured).

Here is my variation….

Summer soba salad

Serves 4

  • 2 bundles organic soba noodles (if gluten is an issue check that the ingredients do not include wheat flour)
  • coconut oil for cooking
  • 2 medium carrots julienned
  • 2 cups shredded kale (remove stem first)
  • 1/4 small white shredded cabbage
  • 1 bunch chopped broccolini
  • 2 small raw Lebanese cucumbers julienned
  • 2 sheets Nori to garnish

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Umeboshi vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • lemon juice from 1/2 lemon

In a small jar combine salad dressing ingredients and shake to combine. Allow dressing to sit and infuse.

Cook soba noodles in boiling water according to packet directions. Drain and blanche in cold water  to avoid over cooking. Drain.

Lightly sauté cabbage, kale,  carrots and broccolini  in coconut oil until tender.

Heat a wok or non stick pan with a little coconut oil and lightly saute cabbage, kale,  carrots and broccolini.

Combine the raw cucumber, cooked vegetables and soba noodles in a bowl and drizzle with dressing.

Divide into 4 bowls and top with your choice of protein.

Use scissors to cut Nori sheets into thin strips and garnish.

 

how to keep your cool this summer

summer port mcquarie

As temperatures begin to reach well over 40°C here in Australia  the joys of summer begin to fade. The simple pleasures of juicy summer fruits, swimming in the ocean and outdoor gatherings are overshadowed as the fire element makes its presence felt and we all run for water and sunscreen.

Ayurveda , the ancient Indian “science of life” and a sister art to yoga, is based on practical principles that help you maintain balance in accordance with the seasons. During these summer months that translates into practical ways to avoid the symptoms of overheating.  Excessive heat brings with it dehydration, skin rashes, sunburn, lethargy and irritability. So whether or not your constitution is governed by Pitta ( the fire element), we all need to find ways to cool down – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Staying cool is not just about staying comfortable. It is about staying balanced during the warmer months.

COOLING DIET

One of the most important tips to adhere to during the summer is to stay hydrated. Coconut water, with its high mineral and electrolyte content, as well as water served at room temperature and herbal teas are great hydrating summer beverages.. Aloe Vera juice or gel added to your water is another cooling option. Be sure to avoid the stimulating and dehydrating effects of caffeine during these warmer months.

A cooling Ayurvedic diet in summer includes a lot of fruits and vegetables that are sweet, juicy, bitter and astringent in nature. Choose fruits such as melons, pears, cherries, mangoes and grapes. Vegetables to include are cucumber, broccoli, zucchini and asparagus. Fresh, homemade vegetable smoothies are a good inclusion.

Avoid hot, spicy and sour foods. Instead use cooling spices such as mint, coriander/cilantro, fennel, anise and cardamom in your preparations. You should also avoid foods with heating properties such as tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, onions, garlic and spinach.

Eating more lightly is also encouraged. Avoid deep fried foods and minimize the consumption of red meat and excessive amounts of alcohol.

COOLING YOGA AND EXERCISE PRACTICE

Any form of exercise should be done in the cool parts of the day. Try rising early and going for a beach walk, a swim or practicing some yoga, or get to a yoga class later in the evening. Avoid running or vigorous exercise in the middle of the day.  Whatever your choice of exercise, practice non-competitively and without force or aggression in order to prevent overheating. Cultivate a sense of calm and serenity to help cool the mind and body.

 Your yoga practice at this time should be slower, less vigorous and more nurturing, in an attempt to calm the nervous system. Including poses such a seated or lying twists, supported back bend or shoulder stand, seated forward bends or any wide legged poses will cool the body and help it regulate naturally.

COOLING LIFESTYLE PRACTICES

The mind is susceptible to overheating which leads to both mental and physical symptoms of irritability. To reduce the activity and stimulation of the mind avoid overworking and too much activity. Maintain balance with relaxation practices. A regular meditation practice or at least space for quiet time each day will help to quiet and still the mind.

Bathe in some moonlight to balance the sun’s energy. Take a walk after dark or practice yoga in the garden.

Cool your skin with unrefined coconut oil. Try a daily massage  before your shower allowing the warm water to help it penetrate the skin. This helps to protect against dryness whilst also cooling the skin.

Favour aromas that are cooling and sweet. Sandalwood, rose, jasmine, mint, lavender, fennel, and chamomile are all recommended.

Remember that summer is a time to slow down and take it easy. So relax in the shade, read something for pleasure, swim in  cool waters or do whatever you love that is calming and cooling. By taking action to keep your internal cooling system working at its best you will notice a real difference in the way you cope with the summer heat.