Why we crave summer time foods

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Ever wonder why do we crave salads, juicy fruits and white wine in the summer? Most restaurants know about the changes in food preferences as a result of consumer demand. That is why they often change the entire menu for summer. There are far less orders for chili and beef stew in the summer and far more orders for salads, grilled vegetables, white wine and other refreshing alcoholic beverages.

Listen to your body, it usually doesn't make mistakes. If you are craving something, there's usually a reason for this. Physiologically, when the weather turns warm, our appetite is affected and we often don't feel very hunger. Our basal metabolic rate does slow down a little, actually decreasing to 10 percent lower in the summer compared to the winter. This is because we don't have to work so hard to keep our body temperature at 98.6. We also digest our food more slowly in hotter weather, which leaves us feeling fuller, longer. According to studies out of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Georgia, our average caloric intake decreases about 200 calories per day in the summer compared to fall and winter.

We tend to order more drinks and fruits and vegetables because we are thirsty due to increased sweating when the temperature is high. Our bodies crave rehydration through drinks, the juices of fruits and vegetables. Here are some cool, thirst quenching recipe ideas for your summer cravings:

Smoothies for breakfast

Cold Summer Soups - tomato, radish or watermelon gazpacho, pureed asparagus, sparkling pineapple soup, pureed carrot soup, avocado soup or melon soup.

Fruit parfaits and fruit salads

Vegetable Salads - add edible flowers (roses, lavender, thyme, dill, cilantro, day lily, squash blossom, Nasturtiums, chives, and basil) for a wonderful fresh twist on traditional salads.

Here is one of my favorite cold soup recipes:

Chilled Persian Yogurt Soup

1/2 cup roasted walnuts

1/4 cup edible rose petals* (the best are the ones that smell good and that you grow yourself)

2 cups fat free plain Greek yogurt

1 1/2 cups ice water

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and finely diced (1 cup)

1/4 cup finely chopped mint or 1/4 cup finely chopped dill (I like both of them)

2 small cloves garlic, minced (optional)

1/4 cup finely chopped chives

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Optional Ingredient: Freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt with the ice water. Stir in the raisins, cucumber, mint, dill, chives, walnuts and rose petals and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until very cold, about 1 hour. Serve the soup in shallow bowls, sprinkled with sumac.

Makes 6 servings.

One Serving 156 cal, 6 gm fat, 1.5 gm sat fat, 15 gm carb, 1 gm fiber, 11 gm protein.

* All roses are edible, but make sure they have not been sprayed with insecticide or fungicides.

Dr. SeAnne Safaii, Ph.D., RD, LD, is an assistant professor at the University of Idaho.

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