from Ayurveda Today, Volume 22, Number 1, Summer 2009Serves one generously
Here’s a cooling drink to enjoy in the heat of the summer as a breakfast beverage, an afternoon pick-me up or a light dinner. The recipe is inspired by a cucumber milk recipe given by Vasant Lad for calming internal heat and appeasing pitta skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema, rashes and skin inflammation.
When it comes to therapeutic summer foods, cucumber arrives at the top of my list of thirst-quenching, instant-cooling vegetables. Diuretic, an effective reducer of heat and inflammation, and a good skin remedy (both topically and internally), the moisture-promoting, juicy cucumber contains more than 90% water and is rich in minerals. If it is true that we become what we eat, then in the heat of the desert, I want to take on the qualities of a cucumber.
According to Rebecca Wood, brilliant author of the equally brilliant, must-have resource, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, cucumber assists in cleansing and purifying blood, positively affects the heart and stomach, and contains erepsin, a digestive enzyme that is useful in breaking down protein, clearing the intestine of parasites (such as tapeworm) and cleaning the intestines. Cucumber increases kapha and brings pacification to vata and pitta.
In addition to internal benefits, here’s a household remedy to try on: while preparing cucumbers this summer in your kitchen, pause for a moment to apply a strip of peel to your forehead or forearm for an instant heat-reducing skin therapy. Your eyes will love a cucumber treatment, too. Reserve two cucumber slices to place over the eyes while you take an afternoon catnap or enjoy a savasana. This not only soothes the eyes but also reduces puffiness and inflammation.
Of the easy herbs to grow at home, mint tops the charts. It also joins the small handful of pitta-reducing garden herbs. Mint has been used medicinally for centuries across cultures for its stomach-soothing, digestive properties. Use it creatively and lavishly during the pitta-challenging months of the year in salads, in herbal tea mixtures, with vegetables such as zucchini or cucumber, or as an alternative to basil in pesto. In the above recipe alongside the cucumber, coconut and milk, it serves to further reduce pitta through cooling.Doshic Notes
Vata + Add a pinch of pippali to bring a bit of warmth if necessary
Pitta = Pacifying
Kapha + – Use water instead of cow’s milk and consume as an occasional treat
1/2 cuporganic whole milk* (unpasteurized and non-homogenized, if possible)
1/2 cup water
1 cucumber, medium sized
1 handful mint leaves
1 Tbs coconut butter (otherwise known as coconut cream or coconut concentrate (substitution: 1/4 cup coconut milk)
1 tsp maple or brown rice syrup
*If sensitive to cow’s milk, substitute with goat’s, almond, hemp or rice milk, herbal tea or water.
Bring the milk and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the cucumber by slicing it in half lengthwise, removing the seeds with a spoon and chopping it in 1/2-inch slices (peeling is optional).
Place the chopped cucumber, fresh mint leaves, coconut butter, and sweetener in a blender. Add half of the cooled milk and blend. When smooth, add the remaining milk and blend again.