As of September 22, we are now into the Fall season. Suddenly, we have to pay more attention to our bodies in order to keep steadily good health. The first round of Late Summer has just passed through, which helps us more gradually shift from the two more active seasons of the first part of the year to the two more passive seasons of the year.* If you live in an area where all the seasons are experienced each year, this is even more true for you. (* There are 2 more weeks of Late Summer essence at each of the other major season changes.)
Even people who don’t usually cook for themselves often find they want to take command of their own meals, when Fall comes.
The following are some easy tips to transfer your meals into Fall:
1. Cut your vegetables into larger pieces before cooking – they will be able to withstand longer cooking times at lower temperatures, hold the heat longer, and be more warming to the body.
2. Adjust your fall meals to match up with the nutrients needed to “fuel” your lungs and large intestine. This is the organ pair in the Respiratory system that is getting an extra supply of blood and oxygen for healing purposes, in the Fall. Pungent tasting foods and spices help to break-up mucus, congestion and stagnation pattern and help protein be broken down more easily. Here’s an easy example – try steaming carrots, yellow onion, turnips together and add basil and thyme spices plus a little sea salt during cooking. Stir in a bit of umeboshi plum paste and a few pine nuts before eating.
3. Cook with less water, at a lower heat, and for longer periods of time to help carry your attention more inward and downward, and to help you stay focused after the typically more scattered activities of the warmer time of year. The increased focus helps you to “gather” yourself together in all ways, round up the supplies you need on hand before colder weather sets in. Add in a little more salt in your cooking gradually as fall leads to winter.
4. Increase the foods that are moistening such as: barley, millet, brown rice, peach, pear, apple, persimmon, spinach, soy milk, tempeh, miso, almond, pine nuts, rice syrup, eggs, oyster, herring, creamy or watery soups. This will help protect your respiratory organs from the typically drying conditions of Fall.
5. Include enough good quality protein in your meals to give your body the deep strength to deal with the colder season. Also add in enough fiber (cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus) with the meal to help your body digest the protein more easily. Use more vegetable proteins than animal proteins at the evening meal. Ideas: homemade black bean burritos, lentil soup, veggie burgers, miso soup with bits of cooked fish (e.g. cod or halibut), vegetables, water chestnuts and seaweed. Aim to be done eating by 7:00 PM if possible, for best digestion and a better night’s sleep.
6. Use foods that are rich in essential fatty acids to insure that you get enough quality fats in the Fall. Your body will use up quality fats more quickly with the cold weather and increased brain activity as you read and study more. Ideas: flax seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, olive oil, walnut oil, fish oil, soy milk, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds, avocado, salmon, ghee, eggs. Try lightly roasting any of these nuts or seeds to give the body more warmth. For those who don’t digest nuts well, try soaking before you eat them or blending them into nut milks.
7. Use heartier, aromatic, spices (e.g. cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, cumin, onion, curry) when cooking root vegetables and grains to stimulate the appetite. Since the essence of a meal is first detected through the sense of smell, these flavors are helpful for enjoying your meal, opening you to eating potentially larger meals than in the warmer seasons, and better digestion.
8. Aim to include all five tastes (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, salty) in the main meal of the day to help you feel truly satiated and balanced. This satiation also helps you avoid the unnecessary weight gain during Fall and Winter.
9. Email me with some of the meals that “dawn” on you, as you “Fall into Cooking!”