Eat More Water!

watermelonThis article first appeared in Wellness magazine

Water is essential for life. Staying hydrated is crucial for peak body function – everything from digestion to brain function requires water in considerable quantities for optimal performance. It is widely accepted that we should sip water regularly between meals, you can even install ‘water apps’ on your phone to remind you to imbibe.

The number of bottled and ‘enhanced’ waters available has increased dramatically over the last few years, but we overlook the fact that some of the best quality water is available in the foods on display at your local produce market. The water found in vegetables and fruit has undergone some of the most complex filtration before it lands up in the bits which you eat, and is one of the best sources of good quality pure H2O.

As things heat up in the summer months it becomes especially important to keep your fluid intake in check. Warmer weather increases the amount of moisture that the body loses through maintaining its built-in cooling system. Thankfully, what we find naturally available during this time of year includes a wide selection of luscious and water-dense ingredients. Eating water-rich foods can be an excellent way of boosting your daily fluid intake. Here are 4 mouth-watering dishes that will ensure that you keep your cool on even the hottest summer days.

Watermelon & Green Chili Soup
When I started including this recipe on Summer retreats, it was always met with looks of sheer disbelief. Watermelon makes the perfect stand in for tomatoes in this exquisite chilled soup. The next time someone suggests that there is no nutrition in watermelons, tell them that it is a very high quality source of the most important nutrient needed for health – the water itself.

4 Cups Watermelon, de-seeded and diced
1 Small Onion, quartered
2 Cloves Garlic
2 Celery stalks, finely chopped
1 Pepper, diced
1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
½ Cup Dhania (fresh coriander), roughly chopped
1 Green Chili, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Reserve a little of all ingredients to add texture to the soup after blending, except garlic and onion.
Place Watermelon, Onion and Garlic in blender. Blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, except Chile and blend until smooth. Combine with reserved ingredients and chopped Chile Adjust seasoning and serve or chill until needed.

Mung Bean and Avocado Dip
Sprouts are an extremely water-rich food which help cool the body in warm weather. Here they are whizzed up with creamy avocado to make a summery dip that is perfect served with crudités vegetables.

1 Large Ripe Avocado
1 Cup Mung Bean Sprouts
1 clove Garlic
1 TBSP Lemon Juice
1 TBSP Olive Oil
½ tsp Salt to taste
Black and White Pepper to taste
10 ml chopped fresh herbs (optional)

Method:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Variation: to make a zesty guacamole, stir in ¼ cup finely chopped cherry tomatoes, and a dash of Tabasco into the dip before serving.

Asian Rice Noodle Salad
Salad ingredients are an excellent source of water, and here they are combined with soaked, and naturally gluten-free, rice noodles to make a luscious and exotically flavoured meal.

100g Rice Stick (one cake)
2 Cups Cucumber, grated
1 Cup Red Cabbage, finely shredded
1 Cup Lettuce/Chinese Greens, shredded
1 Cup Sprouts,rinsed
2-3 Spring Onions, finely sliced
3 Tbsp Dhania, chopped
1 Cup Beetroot, grated
2 Tbsp Sesame seeds, toasted
1 TBSP Pickled Ginger (Gari), chopped

Dressing:
2Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1Tbsp Lime Juice
1Tbsp Rice Vinegar
20ml Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
Salt and White Pepper (to taste)

Method:

Roughly crush the noodles and place in a bowl. Cover with boiling water. Soak for 10-15 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
Combine dressing ingredients. Combine all ingredients together, reserving a little Spring onion and Dhania to garnish. Garnish and serve.

Coconut & Pineapple Panna Cotta
Jellies are a joyous way of consuming a higher water content in hot weather as they bring great merriment to an al fresco feast. Vegetarian jellies are easily made with agar flakes which are readily available at health shops and Asian supermarkets.

2 Cups Pineapple Juice
2 Cups Coconut Milk
1 tsp Agar Powder (China Grass)
2 TBSP Brown/Coconut Sugar, to taste
1 Cup Pineapple, chopped
½ Cup Coconut Flakes, toasted

Method:

  1. Place the coconut milk and pineapple in a saucepan. Sprinkle with the agar and sugar bring to the boil stirring constantly. Simmer gently for 2 minutes.
  2. Arrange pineapple in a serving dish. Pour in the liquid. Allow to cool before placing in the refrigerator. Refrigerate at least one hour before sprinkling with toasted coconut flakes and serving.

Daniel Jardim teaches popular retreats and demonstrations throughout South Africa with a strong emphasis on how to live in closer harmony with each season. He created the recipes for the hugely popular ‘The Cake the Buddha Ate,’ and released his first solo cookbook in 2014 titled ‘Retreat – the Joy of Conscious Eating.’

For more recipes or to find out about upcoming foodie events log onto www.seasoncookery.co.za or www.facebook.com/seasonalcookery

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