Food As Medicine: Summer Recipes

In the summer, we find balance by eating foods that are bitter (cooling, moist), such as: cucumber, olives, kale, celery, corn, quinoa, and millet.

It is also important to take time to rest, sit in the shade, breathe deeply, and absorb the green color that surrounds us. Chinese Medicine explains that the hotter months are an ideal time to harmonize the heart and small intestine.

What better way to support the heart muscle and cleanse the intestines than to eat more vegetables? Produce provides fiber, antioxidant phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals support a healthy inflammatory response, support the body’s natural detoxification process, and promote longevity.

Try to include these foods and herbs in your summer cooking. They will help you cool down, nourish yourself, and appreciate summer’s vibrant energy.

  1. Basil– Digestive tonic and aromatic immune support. Contains water-soluble flavonoids, which support the normal growth of healthy white blood cells.
  2. Cilantro– Supports the secretion of insulin and supports healthy levels of total and LDL cholesterol. Its volatile oils are also useful for immune support.
  3. Corn– Technically a vegetable, zea mays, corn, is considered a grain because it contains amylose starch, which maximizes corn’s antioxidant value even when it’s dried or ground into flour; high in fiber and B vitamins to promote digestion and maintain balanced blood sugar.
  4. Millet– Gluten-free grain, alkaline enough to balance body’s pH; nutrient dense, hypo-allergenic, complex carbohydrate; offers a balance of B vitamins to support digestion and provide consistent energy.
  5. Peppermint– Stomachic and cooling, it soothes indigestion and colonic muscle spasms with its affinity to smooth muscle tissue. Peppermint contains rosmarinic acid, which supports a healthy bronchial passageway and sinus.
  6. Parsley– Digestive, stomachic, and tonic. Rich in Vitamin C to support a healthy response to inflammation, beta carotene to strengthen natural immunity, and folic acid (B vitamin) to support cardiovascular health.
  7. Quinoa– Gluten-free, nutrient-dense complex carbohydrate; offers a balance of B vitamins and magnesium to support digestion; useful in countering the mucus-forming effects of bread/cereal.

Quinoa Pilaf

You will need:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, and cinnamon
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil, minced
  • 5 medium radishes, chopped
  • 1 head of fennel, sliced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 Tablespoons
  • olive oil

Rinse, drain, and cook quinoa in 2 cups water with turmeric, cinnamon, and salt. Add peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Meanwhile, chop / mince all other ingredients and mix together in a large bowl.

I like to use all parts of the fennel plant. Add cooked quinoa, mix well to incorporate, and enjoy!


You will need:

  • ½ head green or Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Slice cabbage. Mince the fresh herbs. Place in a large bowl. Whisk all other ingredients together. Pour them over the cabbage and herbs. With a wooden spoon, bruise the cabbage until it becomes watery and all the juices from the sauce are incorporated. Set aside in the refrigerator overnight for best results. This dish is wonderful for a picnic along with hard-boiled egg salad and cornbread.

Millet Squares

  • Soak 1 cup millet for 2 hours or so. Strain and rinse millet.
  • You can also cook without soaking. This process removes phytic acid, making millet more digestible.
  • Pour into a cooking pot with 4 cups water.
  • Bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer.
  • Simmer until millet begins to thicken (about 20 minutes).
  • Stir occasionally, as though cooking oatmeal.


  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • a few sprigs each of mint and parsley, minced
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • Cook on low heat and stir occasionally until millet thickens.
  • Pour millet into a glass baking dish or container.
  • Allow to cool and set.
  • Slice as you would bread.
  • Enjoy with your favorite nut / seed butter or alongside grilled chicken and vegetables.


Lisa Masé is a nutritional therapist, food justice activist, homesteader, and folk herbalist living in Central Vermont. She helps people find their true sources of nourishment through her knowledge of nutrition science as well as traditional nutritional philosophies such as Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, Macrobiotics, and the Mediterranean Diet. For details and recipes visit >>

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