Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Five List: Beat the Heat!

This heat wave has been killer for me.  Normally, I LOVE the heat- the hotter the better.  Living in Canada, where we complain all winter about the cold, I welcome the heat each summer with open arms. 

This year is a bit different.  I'm 33 weeks pregnant, and feeling as big as a whale.  With temperatures breaking records and no rain in sight, I've been spending more time than I like in my air-conditioned house.  And still I sweat.  I woke up in the middle of the night yesterday thinking that somehow I had spilled something on myself.  I was actually dripping in sweat. EWWWW.  And my husband had the covers pulled up to his chin, because the house is actually like an icebox. 


Since I can't stay indoors ALL the time, I've had to be creative in my quest to beat the heat.  Starting next week my three year old is done daycare for the summer and will be home with me.  There's no way I can keep him indoors all the time, so here are my strategies for keeping cool in the stifling heat and humidity!

1- FLUIDS!  I always have a huge glass of ice water by my side to keep me hydrated, keep the swelling and bloating at bay, and to keep me cool.  I don't drink juice very often because I don't really need the extra calories (pregnancy is adding enough weight on its own, thank you  very much).  Sometimes, though, water just doesn't cut it, so I like to keep a pitcher of caffeine-free iced tea on hand. 

Here's my recipe:

          1- Bring 6 cups of water (or enough to fill whichever pitcher you plan to use) to a boil in a pot on the stove.
          2- Add 3-4 tea bags of choice.  I like caffeine free green tea or regular tea. Throw in some fresh, clean herbs that have been washed and torn.  My favourites are lemon balm or mint, but basil can be great too.  Remove from heat and let brew until desired level of strength.
          3- Strain tea into pitcher.  Add 1/4 cup of honey (or more to taste) and the juice of 1/2 lemon. 
          4- Refrigerate until cold, and serve over ice and a few more sprigs of whichever herb is in the tea. 

2- POPSICLES: If convenience is your thing, buying frozen treats are cheap and abundant.  Chapman's has gluten free popsicles.  If you're looking for something with a little less sugar, buy some popsicle moulds and make your own.  I routinely freeze sugar-free juice, or some fruit puree, or even yogurt mixed with fruit.  Cheap, healthy, and delicious.  My kid doesn't know the difference.

3- Shade:  I'm always under the gazebo, an umbrella, a tree, or a sun hat.  My son loves the sun, but he's not allowed out in it without a sun hat on.  Not to mention sunscreen.  I read an article the other day about sunscreen being banned from some schools in the US, which was interesting to me because my son's daycare requires a tube of sunscreen for every kid.   We put his sandbox and kiddie pool in the shade close to the house, and I avoid taking him out during the hottest hours of the day.

Always in his hat!

4- Speaking of kiddie pools...  While I would love to have a huge outdoor pool at my disposal, I don't.  Keeping my feet immersed in the water of my son's kiddie pool makes me feel like the temperature has dropped almost immediately.  Ditto for the sprinkler.  Who says that only kids can run through and get wet?  Get in, get wet, and then retreat to the shade.  Perfect.

5- Cooling snacks and meals:  There's nothing better than the fresh produce that's available during the summer, and I like to eat eat simple meals that require little or no cooking and can be eaten chilled.  Veggie sticks and fruit salads make great snacks, and chilled soups like gazpacho or cucumber can really help to hydrate and refresh.  Salads are also a great choice:  watermelon and feta, tomato, basil and mozzarella, tuna and chickpea... the list goes on.  One of the simplest meals we ate as kids was tomato with olive oil, salt and torn basil on bread.  There's no reason why this can't be recreated on a GF baguette!  This summer I plan to simplify my cooking routine and rely more on simple dishes that use fresh, local ingredients.

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