Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Juice Combos for Brazilian Dog Days

We are aware that the majority of our readers live in the Northern Hemisphere, some of them in very cold locations, and for those readers thoughts of "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer" are far from mind. But Flavors of Brazil comes from Brazil and here in the Southern Hemisphere, January and February are the hottest months of the year (Just three weeks ago, Rio de Janeiro suffered under its hottest day since 1915 - 44C or 111F). So while you might be searching the closet for woolen mittens, or wrapping a thick scarf around your neck before heading out, here in Brazil, everyone is trying to stay cool.

One of the most effective ways to cool the body down is with a cold drink, nutritionists tell us, and Brazilians have long used icy fruit drinks to reduce body temperature when the temperature rises. (They also drink a lot of cold beer too, though nutritionists advise that alcohol impedes the cooling effect of icy liquids. So, in the interests of body-temperature management, we'll restrict the discussion in this post to fruit drinks.)

Brazil is famous for the variety and quality of its fresh fruit drinks, and juice stands are commonplace fixtures on streets and in shopping malls all around the country. Brazil has such an abundance of delicious tropical fruits (oranges, pineapples, mangoes, limes, passion fruit, watermelon, etc.) that juice menus often have twenty or more choices.

Recently, people in Brazil have begun to discover that mixing fruits together, or adding additional non-fruit flavors to a drink can have spectacularly delicious results. As a result, each year, new combinations become popular. A few years ago, fresh pineapple juice blended with fresh mint leaves swept the country, and today it's rare to find a juice stand that doesn't offer that combination. But we all crave novelty, so barmen and women in juice stands, hotel bars, and seaside restaurants continue to offer new mixtures to satisfy demand.

A recent report in Rio de Janeiro's O Globo newspaper highlighted the most popular new juice combos for summer 2013 in that famously hot city. One very popular drink this summer is mango with mint, which employs the cooling sensation that mint gives to pump up the refreshment factor of the juice. It's long been known that citrus-based drinks cool very effectively because their acidity encourages production of saliva which cools the mouth, so new citrus combinations are very popular this year, particularly tangerine combined with carrot.

The addition of non-fruit ingredients to juices is new in Brazil, but popping vegetables into the juicer along with fruits is increasingly popular. Vegetable juices aid in retention of water in the body, which increases the body's ability to resist heat, so there's a valid nutritional reason for adding vegetables as well. Nutritionist Andréa Santa Rosa Garcia recommends a mixture of coconut water and lime juice, blended with parsley and kale, and adds that this combination can also help to alleviate stress.

If it's 10 below where you live, tag this article for reference when the dog days return next summer. If you're enjoying a Southern Hemisphere summer, whether here in Brazil, in South Africe or in Australia get out your blender, get adventurous when shopping for fruits and vegetables, and combine, combine, combine.

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