Seasonal foods are nutritional miracles. When we eat locally, Nature provides just the right fruits and vegetables to match the season. In Spring we see our first greens in New England – lettuce, beans, spinach and kale.
These foods have astringent qualities and counteract the gloppy sniffly mucous that surfaces from spring allergies. Summer foods bring back more liquid – think summer squash, lettuce, berries, peaches, plums and melon to keep you hydrated.
If you live in a tropical climate, you may find water filled produce through most of the year. In frigid climates, you may see more dried fruits and root vegetables through the coldest months.
Nature Knows What We Need in Each Season
You may see a pattern here, in that Nature and local foods provide you with the nourishment you need to be in sync with your environment. When we eat in season, we get what we need to stay our healthiest.
New England, where I live, is known for its glorious foliage. Orange, red and yellow bursts forth starting in late September, reaching a crescendo by mid-October all over the countryside. Coinciding with the stunning colors cascading from the trees we have those same colors and more stacked on roadside farmsteads and backyard gardens, waiting to be taken home and savored or stored for the winter.
For most of us, dealing with a pandemic for nearly two years has heightened our attention to health. As a lifelong wellness specialist, I look at nutrition as a major pillar of health. The food you eat every day is the fuel used not only for energy, but for building healthy immune cells, muscles, bones and tissue.
What if you took Nature’s offerings and ate the food that coincides best with your body’s needs in each season? Would you be less vulnerable to colds, flu and viruses? Most likely!
Best Autumn Foods
Beyond Western medicine’s expertise in treating illness, we also have traditional practices in other parts of the world that approach health in a more holistic way. Traditional Chinese Medicine and India’s Ayurvedic Medicine are two such examples.
In both cases, the types of foods consumed in each season are related to building resistance to illness and improving well-being. If you live in a climate where you are entering cooler weather and less light, check out this list of foods that can best optimize your health:
Garlic and Onion
Often described as medicinal foods, garlic is a strong immune builder while onions contain strong antioxidants and can quiet inflammation.
Squash, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin
These yellow/orange vegetables contain up to 750% of your daily requirement of Vitamin A, and have high levels of magnesium (think sleep, mood and calcium absorption). They are also high in fiber.
Beets and Turnip
Known as root vegetables, both are filled with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.
Carrots and Parsnips
Also root vegetables, they contain nutrients and antioxidants that may improve immunity, enhance digestive health, and aid weight loss.
From this list, think of garlic and onion as the flavor enhancers and medicinal foods with the rest being foundational to a solid Autumn plate. They can be prepared in multiple ways – roasting, sautéing, steaming or juicing.
We hear a lot about mineral deficiency today in the Standard American diet because of the lack of vegetable consumption. It happens that minerals are only obtained in vegetables so it is essential to find a variety of them that you like and to eat them often. The freshest vegetables will be the local vegetables, so try to stay local when you buy them.
Preventing Winter Illness
Covid and flu news can make us nervous. But we know being nervous does not prevent illness and it can inhibit immune function. Action in the area of self-care and prevention are tools that can be put in place to keep you well.
In my lifelong wellness practice, I offer a 7 day nutrition and self-care program that provides a foundation for entering the colder, more challenging time of year with a well-nourished body. You are welcome to learn more about it here.
In closing, here is another link to one of my favorite Autumn soups – Moroccan Pumpkin. It’s super flavorful and easy to make. If you like it, come back to my website and plug the word recipe into the search bubble and you’ll find many more.
Wishing you a healthy nourished Autumn.
What do you eat in autumn that is local, healthy and nourishing? Where do you buy it from? Do you have a favorite autumn recipe?