Eating in season is something we rarely do these days. We can get things like tropical fruits all year round, meats and fish from Europe or Asia and all manner of great foods shipped straight to us from anywhere on the planet. Is this really great for us though? I’m with the Locavores: eating locally harvested foods in season just makes sense. Mother Nature knows how to take care of her kids.
Fall fruits and veggies display warm colors: the shiny red skin of apples, the browns of mushrooms and the deep oranges and yellows of foods like sweet potatoes and squash. Such foods are ripe for harvesting in autumn for a reason. They have grown slowly and steadily in deeper soil during the summer months and their meat is dense and sticks to the ribs, warming and nourishing the body in preparation for winter’s onslaught.
In keeping with this theme of warmth and warming, we should start to consume more cooked foods at this time of year. Hearty soups, plump whole grains and braised greens are more easily integrated by your digestive system in the colder weather than raw foods. Find a great soup recipe for your fall and winter roots and veggies as a first course, and then you can even have it again the next day as a lighter meal. One of my favorite fall soups is carrot leek ginger garnished with black sesame seed gomasio (Japanese condiment made of toasted sesame seeds & sea salt).
According to the philosophy of macrobiotics, starting our meal with a soup or a broth is beneficial, as this calms us down and balances the blood sugar a bit, helping to temper our appetite before we tuck into our entrée. Consuming a nice soup or broth can help us not to overeat. Staying balanced in our Yoga practice and diet is extra important this time of year. Ayurveda (India’s ancient system of healing) warns us to be cautious at the time of seasonal change as Vata (air or wind element) is elevated, and colds and viruses tend to blow in with those seasonal winds.
Consider these criteria while shopping for the elements that will become your meal. Is the food grown and produced within 100 miles of where you live? Is the food’s color vibrant and rich? Not only will varied colors make a beautiful plate, but they also signify the wealth of vitamins and minerals present in the food.
Finally consider the amount and type of fuel you’ll need to support your lifestyle, especially if you practice a rigorous style of Yoga, like Ashtanga or Kundalini. For example, you may want to consider that Ashtanga Yoga is very athletic and requires more protein to repair and build healthy muscle tissue, while Kundalini Yoga with all its cleansing breath-of-fire is Vata inducing. Foods that can help ground you are root vegetables, gourds, squash and heavier fats like nuts, oils, meats and dairy.
It’s all about balance. Have fun in the kitchen and on the mat!
Lavender Ginger Baked Apples
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Prepare an oven safe baking dish with 2 inches of water
Core apples, making sure all seeds are removed but leaving bottoms intact
Thinly julienne a 1 inch piece of ginger and put a few long strands inside each apple
Add small pat of butter to each apple
Sprinkle each apple with cinnamon and lavender
Bake covered for 30 – 40 minutes (depending upon size and density of apple)