The foods we eat influence our health, that is undeniable; but what foods to eat and WHEN is information that is not often explored in our modern, western approach to nutrition and medicine. Ancient healing arts such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are well versed in prescriptive eating to optimize one’s individual constitution as well as food item adjustments (addition or subtraction) for seasonal factors such as the dry, windy, cooler Autumnal air. Adding more oils, fleshy fruits (such as pears and persimmons), squashes (butternut and acorn squash) and root vegetables (turnips and lotus root) are great ways to counteract the potential negative effects that the change of season may have on our minds/bodies this late fall. Another easy addition to consider is warming spices added to every meal. Fall spice recommendations include: cardamom, cumin, fennel seed, hing (don’t let the smell scare you!), ginger, turmeric and saffron. Below are some ideas that bring a combination of the food items and spice recommendations to your table this season.
Crushed cardamom seed is wonderful in warmed milk, stewed fruit, or mulled beverages (mulled wine, cider or juice).
Cumin seed lightly toasted added to rice, beans, lentils and root vegetable dishes.
Fennel seed is a nice digestive aid which is not overly-heating. It can be used in sweet or savory dishes. It helps to reduce gas.
Hing (Asafoetida) is very strong smelling. It is used to reduce gas in dishes with pulses and legumes. A very small amount of it is needed. The strong smell dissipates with cooking. Once cooked, it has a pleasant, caramelized onion flavor.
Ginger is a great digestive aid; it can be used dried or fresh and added to any recipe. Try boiling a few slices of fresh ginger in 8-10 oz of water for 10 minutes; add a tsp of honey-makes a warming tea that will help keep your digestion moving.
Turmeric has many medicinal uses, not limited to anti-bacterial, anti-viral and helps fight cancer. It is warming and very healing. Add to soups, stews, rice and pulse dishes.
Saffron is great for lung issues (Fall can bring lung issues), increasing circulation, and other medicinal applications . It is great in any savory or sweet dishes.