Being healthy means changing with the seasons. Having a diet of salads year round might sound healthy but in reality your body needs different nutrients than a salad can offer during the fall and winter seasons. So put down your salad fork and get ready to indulge your taste buds in the richness of Ayurvedic fall foods.
Each season has its own personality or characteristic. Summer is hot and fiery, spring is cool and wet. And fall is like a leaf being blown by the wind.
In Ayurveda we study each of these seasonal personalities and how they relate to our bodies.
The qualities in nature of fall are;
• Dry – think running through crisp, dry leaves
• Light – see coloured leaves blowing through the air
• Cool – notice the temperature of the evening and early morning
• Variable – all the changing leaf colours and quickly changing weather
• Rough – the crispness of the air and the crackling leaves
• Windy – each breath of wind brings in a new weather pattern
This week: Notice the qualities of fall that are around you.
The other part of this equation is YOUR personality.
Each of the seasons also relates your Ayurvedic personality or your dosha. Spring lines up with Kapha, Summer is pure Pitta, and Fall is all Vata. We all have each of these personalities within us but we have some that are dominant. In Ayurveda you get known by your dosha – “I’m Pitta- Vata”, or I’m mostly Kapha… that’s a topic for another day but feel free to take this test and see what you are.
How this relates to fall... If you are high in VATA, the windy cold days of fall will make you feel even more spacey, un-focused, and will throw your digestion out even more than usual.
With food and some simple habits. Food, or our belly and digestion are the key to most diseases in Ayurveda. If something is out it starts in the gut so that’s where we go to fix it.
The foods that are naturally in season in fall are the key to helping you stick to your routines, to get your digestive system working optimally and will help prepare your body for the colder winter days ahead.
Opposites bring us back into balance. When the weather is variable, dry, cool and crisp. Add in the opposite in your life. Adopt stable routines to keep you focused as the wind blows around you. Add moisture to your skin with oil massage.
Vata foods for fall need to oppose the qualities of fall. To help keep us healthy and boost our immune systems naturally we are looking for moist, heavy, dense, warm, smooth and stable on our plates.
Think of the Thanksgiving feast foods; Turkey – heavy, dense Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Vegetables like Beets, Turnips, Parsnips and Brussel Sprouts, Butternut Squash Soup… and of course Pumpkin Pie.
These are foods that counteract the dry, light, cool, airy nature of fall. They keep us grounded.
In the Vata season of fall, favour warm cooked foods and add flavour with warming spices. This helps our digestive system be able to fully extract the nutrients it needs when the temperature is cooler. Choose soups and stews that have been cooked together for ease of digestion.
Fruits – Choose Apples (cooked), Mangoes, Bananas, Pears, Figs. As we get further into winter Oranges, Grapefruits, Lemons, Limes and Tangerines.
Vegetables (preferably cooked) – Beets, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Green Beans, Pumpkins, Squash, Sweet potatoes, Onions, Parsnips, Peas.
Grains – Rice, Brown Rice, Faro, Quinoa, Oats, Wheat, and Amaranth.
Legumes – Red Lentils, Mung Beans, Dal, and Kidney Beans.
Nuts and Seeds – All nuts and seeds are great for the fall. Especially cashews, pumpkin seeds, pecans and walnuts.
Dairy – Most Dairy is OK; Ghee, Butter, Buttermilk, Cheese, Sour Cream, Kefir, Yogurt. Preferably not cold – drink warm milks and use products in cooking or serve at close to room temperature.
Meats – For those that can eat meat products this is the season for you. All meat products help to ground and balance vata especially Beef, Turkey, Duck, Chicken, Oysters, Venison, Shrimp, Lobster, Fish and Eggs.
Oils – Use these in cooking and for your daily massage; Sesame Oil, Avocado Oil, Almond Oil, Peanut Oil, Safflower Oil and Olive Oil.
Sweeteners – Raw Honey, Maple Syrup, Dates, Molasses and Rice Syrup work best for fall.
Spices – all spices are good for fall season. The warming spices such as allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, oregano, paprika and turmeric are especially good for aiding digestion.
Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean you need to give up your smoothie habit. This is still a key component to getting your energy and brain boost for the day. Instead choose ingredients for your fall smoothies from the list above and enjoy the energy boost while still honouring the season you are in.
Embrace the change in seasons and help your body adapt along with mother nature by bulking up for the winter with the nourishing fall flavours.
Share below what you love best about the rich Ayurvedic fall foods. Links to new recipes would be oh so amazing too!
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