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The Cycles of Seasonality: Fall

October 16, 2017

The Cycles of Seasonality: Fall

Our bodies respond to cycles of seasonality like all living things. In the Chinese medicine model, Fall is associated with the element of Metal, which is responsible for developing ritual and engaged in the search for meaning and inspiration. The organs associated with this element are the lungs and the colon, so techniques for self-care orient to these areas.

Chinese medical theory provides insight into how best to nourish ourselves as the days shorten. Chinese philosophy holds this as a time to turn inwards, and allow for introspection. One strategy for engaging the lungs and this mandate are in the development of a daily meditation practice. Simple techniques include selecting a time we are regularly uninterrupted (at first waking works for some, or following children's bedtime for others), setting a timer or guided meditation, and dropping into the body with a body scan, and ultimate focus on the in and out of breath.

Another approach towards increased mindfulness is around our food selection and rituals surrounding consumption. In California, we are fortunate for our access to local seasonal produce. Many of the foods arriving now at our farmers markets are unique tools for implementing rituals of nourishment, and perfectly timed for our system's needs.

Consider some of these unique techniques paired with the offerings:

Baked Asian Pears - in China, Asian pears, which are especially moist and hydrating, are baked with grated ginger and cinnamon. This is used as a preventative treatment for dry coughs and throats. 

  • How? Steaming these pears, after coring, in a basin of water, and adding a touch of maple syrup and crushed walnuts before consuming, keeps the intestines moist and promotes regularity around elimination and hydration.

Local citrus - Cara Cara Oranges, local lemons and mandarins, arrive in time for cold and flu season. The vitamin C and antioxidants support our immune system. and the astringent quality of citrus, particularly in lemon, help launch a cascade of liver detoxifying enzymes, called the p450, which support the liver in metabolizing toxins.

  • How? Starting the day with lemon water, and following meals with a peeled mandarin. The rind of these fruits is also rich in pectin and digestive supporting enzymes-- try grating a bit into hummus, on top of stir fries, and as a garnish for soups. The Chinese will often make an infusion or tea of the dried peel to stave off "dampness" and keep the liver "qi" coursing.

Tubers and gourds make their debut. While Pumpkin flavored everything dominates the commercial stage during the fall, the seasonality of this offering is a perfect fit. Orange and yellow vegetables are an abundant form of beta carotene (excellent for vision) and also contribute potassium, which helps maintain our hydration. Additionally, these root vegetables are an excellent source of "starch resistant" carbohydrate, creating balanced blood sugar by titrating their impact on our insulin production system. This allows them to be more slowly synthesized than other starches and grains, thus producing less stress to metabolize than other carbohydrates.

  • How? Sugar pie pumpkins can be baked and their meat added to muffins, curry sauces, or pureed into soup with cauliflower and turmeric.

Warming spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and coriander, are supportive in warming our systems, promoting circulation and improved digestion. These spices engender our capacity to assimilate fatty foods and our colon in moving synergistically with our digestive process, allowing for effective elimination and nutrient assimilation.

  • How? Add cinnamon to almond milk and warm, steam veggies and top with coriander and ghee, make infusions of ginger root skin.