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The Kitchen Coach

You can use foods to keep your cool —

Rebecca Wood

It's fascinating how some foods warm you up and others — cool you down. This isn't new information. In early Persian, Indian and — Chinese literature, foods were ranked according to their ability to influence — body temperature. Fortunately, this wisdom is resurfacing. Let's examine — its basic, common-sense principles.

First, there's how you fix a food. Raw foods are more — cooling than are cooked foods. Additionally, a chilled, iced or frozen — food is more cooling than the same food served warmed or at room temperature. — Cooking energizes by adding heat and partially breaking the food down — which aids digestion.

Consider a carrot. A carrot soup conveys more warmth than — does a grated carrot salad. Carrot juice is more cooling and refreshing — than carrot salad. That same carrot cooked in today's stew is more warming — than if it had been previously cooked and refrigerated (or frozen and — then thawed), warmed and served. Freshly cooked foods are more warming — and enlivening than are leftovers.

To enhance a food's warmth, cook it with more time, more — fat or oil, at higher temperatures, under greater pressure or with less — water. Thus a grilled or fried carrot is more warming than a steamed or — boiled carrot.

Additionally, consider the range you're using. Foods cooked — over gas or wood heat impart more warmth than foods cooked with electricity. — A microwave-cooked food holds and conveys even less warmth than if cooked — on an electric range. Recall how quickly a microwaved cup of tea loses — its heat and becomes tepid.

Thus, one excellent way to support your thermal comfort — is to adjust your cooking techniques according to the season and to whether — you're feeling steamy or chilly.

A second tool is to examine individual foods. According — to traditional culinary wisdom, foods are hot, warm, neutral, cool or — cold. Spices tend to be warming and fruit tends to be cooling. Garlic, — for example, fires you up while peaches cool you down. If I were a football — coach, I'd rouse my team with garlicky buffalo stew. Not peaches and cr?me — fraiche.

To assess a food's thermal properties, you don't have — to memorize endless food lists. Rather, use the following guidelines for — your enhanced comfort and well being:

Growth time Foods that grow quickly, like bean sprouts, — cucumbers and summer squash, tend to be more cooling than foods that take — longer to grow, like cabbage, carrots and winter squash.

Color Blue, green, or purple colored foods are typically — more cooling than similar foods that are red, orange or yellow. Thus, — a lime cools more than a lemon. Blue fish is more cooling than salmon.

Region Tropical and sub-tropical foods tend to be more — cooling than temperate-zone foods. Strawberries and cherries are more — warming than are mangos and pineapple.

Water content Juicy foods tend to be more cooling than — dry foods. Therefore, Chinese cabbage is more cooling than is cabbage — and milk more cooling than cheese.

Using these guidelines, plus your intuition, test yourself — by considering the thermal properties of foods on the following recipes. — If you're not sure, cook them both and see how your feel. Note that both — recipes use garlic - it's a reminder that food is more about enjoyment — rather than about following rigid rules.

Spinach and Sprouts

— — — — bunch spinach, stems removed, leaves washed but not — dried

— —

Warm oil in a wok or wide skillet. Add the garlic, cook — over medium heat until it is aromatic and turns light gold, about — minute. — Add the spinach, bean sprouts and soy sauce or salt and lightly cook for — about — minutes or until the spinach is bright green and limp and the — sprouts are translucent. Season with pepper. Remove to a serving bowl — and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 2 to 3.

Barley Cod Chowder

— — — — — — — — — —

Heat the oil, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, onion, carrot — and barley in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Saut? for about — 5 minutes or until the onions have softened and the mixture is aromatic. — Add water or stock, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for — at least 45 minutes but for as long as — hours. (With long simmering, — add additional water if necessary.) Add cod, cover and simmer for — minutes. — Remove _ cup of the broth and place in a small bowl with the miso. Using — a fork, puree the miso until smooth. Return the miso mixture to the pot — and cook for one minute. Adjust flavor with additional miso if necessary. — Remove from the heat. Serve hot, garnished with scallion. Serves 4.

Local resident Rebecca Wood is a personal chef, kitchen — coach and author. Her book, "The Splendid Grain," won both Julia Child — and James Beard Cookbook Awards. You may reach her or visit her many recipes — and articles, at www.rwood.com.