Summer Cooking and the Fire Element

Summer Cooking and the Fire Element

Today, I’ll be talking about summer cooking and the fire element. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, we are approaching the summer season, which corresponds to the Fire Element and, therefore, influences the heart and small intestine. We have previously discussed this ancient cosmology, which describes the energetic movements of nature throughout its different cycles. Consequently, in this post, I want to discuss what we should eat in summer to harmonize with our environment.

Universal Laws

There is a universal law underlying the great philosophies in human history: everything changes. In other words, life is in constant change. For example, we can observe how the seasons follow one another within the grand pulse of contraction and expansion, yin and yang, always opposite but complementary, contained within each other and in constant transformation.

Undoubtedly, nature is wise. Consequently, it provides us with the necessary foods to balance ourselves with each season of the year. Therefore, if we eat according to the “natural laws,” meaning local, organic, and seasonal products, we will be much more in tune with our surroundings. Moreover, we “consume” our environment to balance with it.

However, if we consume tropical fruits, excessive sugars, ice creams, and other overly expansive or contractive products (fried foods, meats, barbecues, pizzas, smoked foods, excessive salt), we will hinder this balance, and consequently, our body-mind will suffer.

Summer and the Fire Element

It’s summer, and we can feel the sun, the heat, the light, long days, profuse growth, bright colors, exuberance, celebration… all of which remind us of fire. It’s no coincidence that fire is used in the celebrations of the Night of San Juan to mark the climax of life and the shortest night of the year.

In many traditions, fire is associated with love. Notice how when we like someone or something, our heart rate increases. This archetype is also connected with the harmony we feel when enjoying something intensely and with the power of enthusiasm, communication, and modulating the rhythm of life. Therefore, the Fire Element as an archetype is related to passion. But be careful! Passion can be used positively (to communicate, enthuse, compassion, empathy) or negatively (rashness, falsehoods, appearances, emotional manipulation).

Balancing the Heart and Small Intestine in Summer Cooking

People with a balanced fire personality are generally very good at feeling the rhythm of others. They know how to reach the heart and empathize while maintaining calm, stability, and respect for the natural rhythm. They are enthusiastic, good communicators, and cheerful.

However, when a person with a fire personality is unbalanced (due to poor eating habits or other reasons), they often have heart problems, their arms hang limp, or they make exaggerated gestures. Typical personality traits can also include an agitated mind, multitasking, verbosity, and arrogance.

Foods to avoid for a healthy Heart and Small Intestine

YANG: Promote artery hardening, block heart function and circulation.

  • Processed meats
  • Red meats
  • Aged cheeses
  • Baked, barbecued, fried, grilled foods
  • Excessive (or poor quality) salt
  • Eggs
  • Ham
  • Barbecues
  • Ribs

YIN: Stimulants harm the heart and circulation. They also produce moisture, weakness, and fluid accumulation.

  • Sugar
  • Marijuana
  • Spicy foods
  • Stimulants
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Vinegars
  • Tropical fruits and vegetables

Summer Cooking for the Fire Element

Summer cooking for the fire element will therefore enhance light and active energy, refreshing and opening. We will reduce cooking times, use less oil, and avoid flours and baked goods. Similarly, we will avoid overly contractive foods and cook more with blanching, marinating, steaming, quick stir-frying, quick pressing, and, of course, introduce raw foods into our menus, depending on individual digestive health.

Key Ingredients:

  • Toasted seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin)
  • Nuts: walnuts
  • Summer vegetables are juicier and more refreshing. Depending on individual health, salads and vegetables should not be missing.
  • Bitter flavor: artichokes, lettuce, endives, escaroles, kale, Brussels sprouts, dandelion, chicory, mustard greens, okra, chives, chard, turnip greens, collards.
  • Seaweeds: nori (benefits heart and circulation), wakame, dulse, agar-agar.
  • Whole grains: Corn (and grits), popcorn, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, seitan.
  • Other vegetables: asparagus, red peppers, tomatoes, beets.
  • Legumes: tofu, large beans, fava beans.
  • Condiments: tamari, tekka.

Representative Recipes: Do try these delicious recipes!

Can you think of a famous person who fits the characteristics of an unbalanced fire energy? What do you think they should eat to behave more rationally?

Leave a comment!

Don’t forget to cook the recipes I recommend and have fun!

Leave a comment