Autumn is the time when nature slows down.
The active spirit of summer is settling into calmness.
The air posseses a notable crispness.
Foliage is making its colorful journey from vibrant greens into drier yellow, brown, red and orange hues.
Furry animals are starting to grow their coats thicker to better contain warmth, and the squirrels gather and bury their last nuts before the frost sets in.
To cultivate autumn health, reflect the movements of nature, and begin to slow down in preparation for the winter season ahead.
In terms of lifestyle, autumn calls for retreat, turning inward, and gathering of resources.
Protect yourself from the coming cold by wearing a scarf, and expose yourself to the cooler air so your body can practice its defenses.
Now is also a great time to go to a sauna to strengthen your surface and resist disease.
In addition to protecting and strengthening your surface layer, you also need to acclimate your internal landscape to the season.
Move away from the cooling and dispersing foods that were so appealing in the summer heat and move toward more warming, nourishing foods to give your body resources to draw on when the winter arrives.
Late summer and early fall are a time of incredible bounty and harvest, so anything that is flourishing locally should be taken advantage of when creating meals.
It is also a time of transition from warm weather to cold. To help your body adjust, eat sweet, bland, and simple foods that are lightly steamed or boiled. These will nourish and lubricate your digestive system to counteract the dry cold autumn weather.
Good options include:
Vegetable Soups, beet greens, yams, squashes, chanterelles and porcini mushrooms, fish, and long-grain brown rice.
At this time it is best to avoid foods that have a cooling or dispersing action, such as watermelon or overly spicy foods, because these will deplete rather than store your body’s warmth.
This is the height of the dry season, so you want to eat foods that add moisture to your body.
Focus on eating sour flavors, fermented foods, and food cooked with plenty of water.
Steamed or water-sauteed seasonal vegetables are always a good option. Also think about eating pears and apples, okra, spinach with vinegar, radish kimchi, sauerkraut with caraway seeds, swiss chard, quinoa, sesame seeds, almonds, pumpkin, and plenty of tea (with a little honey if you want).
At this point it’s starting feel much colder outside, with winter weather just around the corner.
Nature is slowing down to an almost imperceivable level, and it’s a good idea for you to slow down as much as you can, too.
When it comes to food, your #1 goal right now is to bolster the warmth inside of you.
Food that is cooked for a long time will help you stockpile some inner heat. Baked, stewed, slow-cooked, and fermented foods are especially good at doing this.
Flavors such as sour, bitter, salty, and warming pungents (such as ginger and cinnamon) should be emphasized.
Recommended ingredients include smoked meats, borscht with dill, lamb stew, black sesame, and ginger tea.
If you slow down and eat the right food you will resist getting sick as the weather gets colder, and you’ll feel better through the winter too.
What’s your favorite autumn recipe? Share it in the comments section below!