As the seasons change we naturally start favoring certain foods that contrast the conditions outside and keep us feeling good and energized. In the heat of summer, that means a lot of lighter, easy to digest and hydrating foods to keep us cool—sweet fruits, colorful salads and the occasional frozen treat!

spicy foods

However, one of the best ways to help your body deal with climbing temperatures is a lot less intuitive for most of us—eating spicy foods! They may not seem so appealing when you’re already sweating in the sun, but the peppers and spices of cuisines from the hotter parts of the world—think Thai food, Indian curries and Mexican salsas—make you sweat more initially, but have an overall longer-lasting cooling effect on the body. The same goes for hot teas and soups.

Other energetically cooling foods include: dark leafy greens, berries, sea vegetables, bananas, coconut, avocado, melons and mushrooms.

This fresh tomatillo salsa recipe has a double kick from two kinds of peppers. Try it as a dip, in a taco or on top of grilled fish or veggies (like the cooling ones listed above!)

Spicy Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa

If you have a low tolerance for spicy foods, use only one serrano and be sure to seed it completely. On the other hand, if you like a lot of heat throw in some of the seeds when you puree everything together.

1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 small onion, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
2 serrano chiles, halved and seeded
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt

Position an oven rack 6″ from broiler; preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange tomatillos, onion, serranos and garlic cloves on prepared sheet. Broil, turning occasionally, until soft and slightly charred, 10-15 minutes. Let cool. Peel garlic; transfer to a processor. Add tomatillos, onion, serranos and any juices from foil, along with the whole chipotles. Purée until mixture is as smooth as you like. Transfer salsa to a bowl. Stir in cilantro; season with salt.

Need help incorporating spicy foods into your diet? Schedule an appointment with one of our nutritionists today.

Written by Flannery N., Bastyr University student intern

Recipe slightly adapted from

Palca, J. (n.d.). Cool Down With A Hot Drink? It’s Not As Crazy As You Think. NPR. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from

Palmer, A. 10 Cooling Foods to Eat in the Summer Heat. One Green Planet. Retrieved June 29, 2017 from