Summer Food For Fire Element

[East West Perspective]

Summer Food For Fire Element

by Christina Barea Young

Summer is a period of growth, it is a time when nature expresses her bounty to the fullest. To be in harmony, with the atmosphere of summer, one should awaken early in the morning and reach to the sun for for nourishment to flourish as the gardens do.  Work, play, travel, be joyful and grow into selfless service.  The bounty of the outside world enters and enlivens us.  Use plenty of bright colored fruits and vegetables.  Cook lightly and regularly add a little spicy, pungent or even fiery flavor.  When sauteing, use high heat for a very short time, and steam or simmer food as quickly as possible.  Use little salt and more water.  On hot days, excessively cold drinks and ice-cream can weaken the digestive system by contracting the stomach and blocking the digestive process. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine View of the Heart

The Heart is considered the “Emporer” as it is the house of the Shen (Spirit) and is the representation of the “Fire”/yang energy of the body. The Emporer was considered the link between Heaven and Earth, and thus the Heart as home of the Spirit holds the same symbolism in the body. The Heart governs the qi and Blood. The heartbeats rhythm, rate and length is determined by the quality of Qi of  the Heart. The Heart governs the Blood in 2 ways: by transforming food energy (gu qi) and circulating Blood.  The Heart controls the blood vessels, and the vessels determine the harmony, smoothness of Blood flow in veins, arteries etc. The quality or condition of Heart energy manifests through the complexion. The heart displays outward vibrancy through the complexion and “shining” like appearance of tone of voice, skin, motivation, overall action.  Houses the Shen (Spirit) and Zhi (Will). The Heart is responsible for mental and emotional activities such as intelligent consciousness, long term memory, capacity to judge right & wrong; it influences sleep and controls spirit travel, soul or spirit projection, dreaming.

General Symptoms of a Heart-Mind Imbalance

· Scattered and confused mind

· Excess or no laughter

· A ruddy or very pale face

· Speech problems (stuttering, excess verbiage, confused speech)

· Depression

· Mental illness

· Loss of memory

· Poor circulation

· Weak spirit

· Aversion to heat

Tips for eating healthy in the summer and nourishing the Heart

On hot days, excessively cold drinks and ice-cream can weaken the digestive system by contracting the stomach and blocking the digestive process. Instead, serve more cooling and fresh foods such as salads, sprouts (mung, soy, alfalfa), fruits and cucumbers which bring down the internal heat without damaging the digestive system. Drink teas from flowers or loose tea leaves like chrysanthemum, chamomile, mint.  Fruits which cook great in the summer are apples, lemons, limes, watermelons, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple, mung beans, squash and zucchini.  Heat dispersing spices  bring out internal heat from the body. These are red and green hot peppers, cayenne peppers (fresh), ginger, horseradish, black pepper. Remember to use them moderately so as to not weaken or loose too much Yang energy. Eating heavy foods in the summer (meat, eggs, nuts, seeds and grains) cause sluggishness and heaviness.

Heart Healthy Diet

Diet is a major contributing factor to heart health. It is generally accepted that foods containing high cholesterol, or that cause the body to make more cholesterol, affect heart disease. Foods containing fiber, potassium, nitric oxide (in green leafy vegetables), monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, saponins, lecithin, stanol, sterol, phytic acid, phenolics, antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids, or tannins are said to lower cholesterol levels in the body. Foods high in grease, salt, trans fat, or saturated fat are said to raise cholesterol levels. In simplified terms:


1. alcohol

2. tobacco

3. caffeine

4. trans fats – What is Trans fat? Basically, trans fat is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil–a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor stability of foods containing these fats. Trans fat can be found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when food manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine. A small amount of trans fat is found naturally, primarily in some animal-based foods. Trans fat, like saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, raises the LDL cholesterol that increases your risk for CHD. Although saturated fat is the main dietary culprit that raises LDL, trans fat and dietary cholesterol also contribute significantly.

Look For:

1. Omega 3’s  and 6’s – Fish oils, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and tofu, vegetable oils, including soybean and flaxseed oil.

2. more vegetables

3. more fruits

4. more fiber


Like omega-3s, omega-6s play an important role in health and are found in a variety of foods commonly used in the kitchen or added by food manufacturers to a plethora of products. Rich in omega-6s are oils from corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower, and sesame, plus sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and pecans.  Scientists believe the typical Western diet has an excess of omega-6s, especially in ratio to omega-3s. This lopsided ratio may be responsible for much of the chronic inflammatory diseases seen today. Early humans ate a ratio of 1:1 omega-6s to omega-3s; current estimates push a ratio of 10:1 (and up!) by those consuming a Western diet. The cause? Less fish intake and excessive consumption of omega-6-rich oils. While some experts focus educational efforts on returning the omega ratio to its former dietary balance, many more recommend that consumers simply increase their overall intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Arugula, Apple, and Radish Salad with Cider Vinaigrette


1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 bunches arugula, thick stems removed, rinsed and dried
1/2 pound radishes, thinly sliced on mandoline
1 red apple, peeled, cored and finely diced

Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, shallot, salt and pepper. Toss arugula, radishes and red apple together. Toss salad with dressing right before serving.


Recipe courtesy

4 ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
2 cups tomato juice
1 cup diced stale or lightly toasted baguette bread
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper, seeded (can substitute hot sauce)
Kosher salt
Sliced or diced avocado, for garnish

Bring salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Cut an “x” shape on the tops and bottoms of the tomatoes. Boil the tomatoes until the skin begins to peel back, about 20 to 30 seconds. Plunge the tomatoes into a bowl of iced water to chill. Peel and seed the tomatoes, then chop them.

In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, and tomato juice. Mix well, and then add the diced bread to soak. In another bowl, combine the chopped tomato, cucumber, red pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, and cilantro. Reserve 1/2 cup of this chopped mixture for garnish, if desired.

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Serve chilled and garnish with the avocado and reserved diced vegetables, if desired.

Christina’s Macedonia (Fruit Salad)

2 bananas

1 pint strawberries

2 kiwi fruits

3 cups fresh squeezed orange juice

In a medium bowl (enough to hold all the ingredients) place the bananas sliced in rounds about ¼” in width, strawberries in quarters, kiwi sliced in rounds and then in halves. Pour the orange juice over the fruit and keep in refrigerator. Wait about 2 hours before serving for the first time to allow the juice to react with the fruit. Enjoy chilled, not cold. Must be consumed fresh, keeps for up to 48 hours in refrigerator.

Christina Barea-Young

Christina Barea-Young is a Daoist Priest and a Medical Qigong Therapist. She dedicates her time to helping people find balance through Medical Qigong Therapy, Qigong & Tai Chi instruction and TCM related talks, workshops and courses. She is a member of the National Qigong Association and currently serves on the Board of Directors. For more information about her please visit:


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