Culinary Inspiration for Fall Wellness
Welcome back to our exploration of Autumn's wonders in Chinese Medicine! In our previous blog, we explored the profound connections between this season, our emotions, and the wisdom of the breath. Today, our journey continues as we delve into the realm of nutritional therapy—a powerful way to harmonize with Autumn's energies. Let's gather around the (virtual) table as we chat about how to embrace this season with the delicious and healing power of food.
When it comes to Fall recipes, pumpkins and apples probably come to mind first. We love these all-stars too, and they definitely have their place in a balanced diet, but in the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to nutrition, the real star of the Autumn/Metal season is WHITE foods with PUNGENT flavors! Think turnips, parsnips, radishes, cauliflower, onions, garlic, and horseradish.
Besides being delicious, these foods are high in fiber, which supports the descending quality of the Metal element by aiding in the healthy movement and emptying of the Large Intestine. Many of these foods have anti-viral, anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immuno-supportive properties that help with respiratory health and make us more resilient in the face of Autumn illnesses. The pungent/spicy flavor of these veggies clears out phlegm in the lungs and sinuses, while the fiber and moisture content helps to keep the bowels eliminating waste every day.
What else do we think of when Autumn rolls around? It’s soups and stews season! There's something undeniably comforting about a steaming bowl of soup or stew in Autumn. Beyond the sensory pleasure of savoring rich, flavorful broths, these culinary creations offer a myriad of benefits aligned with the season's energy. These hearty, slow-cooked dishes, often brimming with seasonal vegetables, nourishing proteins, and carefully selected herbs and spices are perfectly attuned to the needs of Autumn. They offer a harmonious blend of warmth and beneficial moisture, helping to bolster our body's defenses against the cooling and drying energies of the season.
The long, slow simmering of ingredients not only imparts a depth of flavor but also unlocks the medicinal properties of herbs and spices, creating a synergistic fusion of nutrition and healing. Mindfully enjoying soups and stews during Autumn is a profound practice of aligning with the season's rhythms, fortifying our bodies, and cultivating balance and vitality.
Eating for the Immune System
As for what to avoid, guess what’s on the top of the list? As usual, it’s cold and raw foods! Cold and cooling foods (looking at you, iced coffee!) cause the blood vessels of the upper GI to constrict, and that reduced blood flow makes for thickened mucous and sluggish digestion, which is a 1-2 punch to your immune system. Thicker, stagnant mucous means that when pathogens get trapped in the sticky stuff, they have ample opportunity to reproduce and multiply.
Raw foods (salads and all manner of raw vegetables) require extra heat to digest, which means your body has to work doubly hard to pull blood and Yang energy into your gut, leaving the external layer of your immune system wide open to pathogens like cold air and viruses! When you take care of your Spleen and Stomach by eating warm, cooked foods, your immune system will have the resources it needs to protect you from pathogens, and your lymph fluid will be able to circulate easily without becoming stagnant, a key factor in strong immunity during cold and flu season.
Let’s get cooking!
As we embrace the wisdom of Autumn's bounty and align our nutrition with this transformative season, you might be wondering how to put these principles into practice. Well, we've got you covered! Here are a few of our favorite easy recipes to get you started!
Chaga Chai Spice Cookies
(vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free!)