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Cool Lunch Food for Warm Days

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s back to school time, but the weather is still hot. So the kids may not eat the typical lunchbox fare.

What’s a parent to do?

According to Chinese medicine, some foods are considered cooling to our bodies. Both modern and traditional medicines say food has energy. Western medicine evaluates a food’s energy through it s calorie content. In layman’s terms, the amount of calories in a food correlates to the amount of energy released in our bodies. Traditional medicine says that foods have either a warming energy or a cooling energy, regardless of the calorie count.

Because nature seems to provide what we need when we need it, the cooling foods are more likely to be harvested in the summer. Most of us are more active in the summer and enjoy an extra hour or two of daylight, so our bodies benefit from the extra energy derived from the natural carbohydrates and sugars found in summer fruits and vegetables. Think corn, peas, plums, melons and berries. We also need more liquids when temperatures rise, not just in the form of drink, but also through liquid-rich foods such as a juicy watermelon or peach.

Here are some ideas of ways to “cool down” a lunch box:


  • Raw foods are more cooling than cooked, so try sliced yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes and snap peas
  • Many of summer’s fruits and vegetables are essentially edible water. Load a lunch box with watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers and tomatoes to keep your child hydrated
  • Instead of a heavy sandwich, replace the bread with a crisp, watery piece of celery and add some peanut butter.
  • Add a juicy tomato and lettuce to any sandwich to supply cooling properties
  • Rice, bean and corn salads deliver protein and carbohydrates and are more cooling than a ham and cheese sandwich.
  • Place gazpacho or any cold summer soup in a sealable container. Your kids might take pleasure in drinking their lunch.
  • Cabbage is cooling, so add coleslaw to the lunch box.
  • Spicy, acidic and greasy foods are believed to create heat in our bodies, as do meat and most dairy products, so look fo r substitutes for these food groups.