Fall Into Winter With Ease
As the trees shed their color at our feet, we find ourselves in the midst of an extraordinarily beautiful, sunny fall season here in Portland. This gift of extra sunshine has inspired me to spend more time walking outside in the crisp autumn air, observing nature as it prepares for winter.
In this moment of transition from the warmer active seasons of spring and summer, to the colder more passive months of winter, we tend to be more introspective. We take stock of our accomplishments and may be drawn to clear away the clutter in our minds as well as our physical space. This is the essence of the autumn season
One of my favorite things about Chinese medicine is how it relates the physical body to the landscape of the natural world. One example of this is seen in the names of the acu-points such as “Joining Valley” and “Bubbling Spring” , referring to the structures of the body and the flow of Qi through the meridian channels which are likened to rivers. Another example of this relationship is offered through the Five Element system, wherein each Element (fire, earth, metal, water and wood) is correlated to a season, direction, flavor, smell, sound, color, direction, constitutional type, as well as a pair of organs in the body. These poignantly poetic analogies offer us insight into ways we can grow, cultivate, purify and create a healthy mind and body with reverence for our greatest teacher, nature itself.
The element of Autumn is Metal. Metal represents a time of transition in seasons and a chance to harvest all of the hard work done during the active seasons. Its energy is concise, clean, decisive and crisp as the air outside.
The paired organs associated with Metal are the Lungs and Large Intestine. Energetically, the Lungs are responsible for taking in the new, receiving experiences and creating a flexible boundary between that which we are open to receive, as well as experiences we want to close ourselves off from. As the most external of our vital organs, the lungs are also our first line of defense. Being directly connected to the outside environment, this makes them more susceptible to conditions such as wind and cold. We can protect these tender organs during the colder seasons by dressing warmly, making sure to cover our chests and necks with warm sweaters and scarves, and by choosing foods that keep them strong and clear.
The emotion of the Metal element is grief. There are varying degrees of grief such as the loss of a loved one, a missed opportunity or the sadness we feel with the waning of summer sun. However this feeling shows up for us, it is important to not hold it in our bodies. This season encourages us to purge emotional and physical clutter and to allow heavy emotions to fall away. One effective method of moving stuck emotions is by taking a little time each day to journal, or to transmute what you’re feeling into some form of creative outlet, such as intentional movement practice, breathing exercises, or even a good cry. The lesson is to release it to move it through like your exhale.
Fall weather tends to be very dry, and this dryness can damage the lungs. It is especially important to stay hydrated during this time of year, and to moisturize the skin (which is affiliated with the health of the lungs). Proper hydration is key to the health of its paired organ, the large intestine.
By keeping adequate moisture in the digestive tract ensuring the systems continue to flow.
The Large Intestine is the end of the line in the transformative processes in the body and is responsible for letting go of the old. It helps us to be relaxed and move with ease through daily life, allowing us to focus on the moment. It separates the pure from impure, absorbing the rest of the clean water and nutrients left over from the food we consume and excreting the turbid. The lesson of the large intestine is to let go of physical as well as emotional waste that is no longer serving us.
We can keep our systems strong and healthy through seasonal transitions by following the guidance provided by the cycles of nature. In the spring, we consume the flowers and leaves of plants that are sprouting and vital on the branches. In the fall, that vitality sinks down into the roots and tubers. Some ideas for foods for this season are those beautifully colored orange and yellow roots and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squashes, as well as seasonal fresh greens, apples, pears and aromatic herbs. Our preparation method also should shift to fit the season. Low and slow is the theme in the autumn kitchen. Rather than sauteing and steaming our food, choose instead to roast, stew or use a crock pot to prepare your dishes.
We want to avoid eating a lot of raw or cold food this time of year, including iced beverages. This can cause the digestive process to slow and lead to imbalances in the body. Instead try drinking warm lemon water, herbal teas, room temperature water or sip on a cup of spiced bone broth.
Remember to take your time. Prepare your meals intentionally and breathe deeply. You can keep your blood and Qi circulating by taking long walks, practicing Tai Qi or Yoga and allowing yourselves to become more meditative this season. Seek preventative care like Amma Therapy treatments to encourage good Qi flow to keep your immune system strong.
I would like to invite you all to welcome the shift in seasons with gratitude in your hearts!
I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.
----Stephanie and the ATC team
Below I have shared some warming, Autumn recipes for your holiday table:
Kabocha Squash, Apple and Chestnut Soup
1 medium kabocha squash
2 firm, tart apples such as fuji or pink lady
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
I inch of fresh, chopped ginger
1 tsp sea salt + more to taste
1 medium kabocha squash, peeled, seeded + cut into 3/4 inch dice
2 cups roasted + peeled chestnuts, roughly one pound
8 cups filtered water or bone broth
½ cup of coconut cream
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, de-stemmed and chopped
3 bay leaves
2 tsp tamari
ground black pepper
Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until quite soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir, cooking for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. To the pot, add the salt, persimmons, water, thyme and bay leaves. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves and purée the soup in batches in a blender and return to the large pot. Add tamari, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve hot and garnish with a dab of coconut cream in a swirl in the middle of the bowl :) Enjoy!
Wilted Fall Greens with a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
1 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
2 fresh, ripe persimmons, sliced.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup pecan halves
10 shallots, peeled
2 bunches fresh spinach, torn
2 bunches tatsoi, torn
2 bunches mustard greens, torn
For the Vinaigrette
8 ounces bacon, diced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons local honey
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup avocado oil
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Wrap the shallots in parchment paper and then in aluminum foil. Bake until tender and slightly caramelized, about 1 hour. Once the shallots are cool enough to handle, chop coarsely and set aside.
Toss the pecans in a tablespoon of the oil, salt and pour a tablespoon of honey spoon the nuts onto a baking sheet, set in the oven when the shallots come out and roast for 10-15 minutes until tender stirring once to flip. Remove from oven and set aside.
Cut off the stems from the persimmons and cut into ⅛’ slices. Set aside.
To make the vinaigrette:
In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy; transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve the fat in the pan. Once the fat has cooled slightly, strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a measuring cup that has a spout. In a blender or food processor, combine the mustard, honey, vinegar, thyme, tarragon, and pepper and blend for 30 seconds. Slowly add the strained warm bacon fat and the oil through the cap of the blender or the feed tube of a food processor, blending until thoroughly combined.
Pour vinaigrette into a large mixing bowl. Add the shallots, bacon, candied pecans, cranberries, komatsuna, tatsoi, and mustard greens to the mixing bowl and toss with the warm vinaigrette.
Top with slices of fresh persimmon. Serve immediately.
Roasted Fennel and Fall Vegetables
5 med rainbow carrots
1 bulb fennel
1 small red onion
1 kohlrabi root
8 ounces brussel sprouts
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns ( if available, sub black pepper)
¼ tsp smoked paprika
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut the parsnips, carrots, fennel, kohlrabi and red onion into bite-sized pieces. Trim the brussel sprouts stems. If your sprouts are very large, cut them in half so they are closer to the size of the other vegetables.
Transfer all of the vegetables to a large bowl along with the whole garlic.
Toss with the olive oil and schezwan pepper.
Arrange the vegetables on a large rimmed baking sheet and cover.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover, stir the vegetables, then return to the oven. Turn the heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and let the vegetables cook for another 10 minutes, or until tender and browned.
This recipe is full of flavors and colors of the fall. Roasted roots and brussels tossed with aromatics like schezwan pepper that is activating to the circulation and will literally make your taste buds tingle. If you haven't tried yet, it’s a favor not to be missed!!
Probiotic Fermented Pear- Applesauce
4 large Fuji apples ( or other tart variety)
4 medium ripe Bosc pears
2 tbls whey or water kefir
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 sanitized glass quart jar
Core and chop fruit, puree in high powered blender or food processor. Stir in cinnamon kefir and salt. Pour into quart jar making sure there it’s least an inch from the top to leave space for fermentation. Let sauce ripen on the counter at a cool room temperature for 3 days then serve or refrigerate until use.
We all know about the health benefits of probiotics, fermented foods, are simple to make at home and can be another form of good bacteria to feed your healthy microbiome this fall : ) Try this applesauce with your holiday ham or on some potato latkes. Yum!
Poached Pears with Autumn Spices
4 medium Bosc pears that are just starting to ripen
1/2 c. honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
4 whole allspice
1 star anise
A few whole black peppercorns
Peel, core and quarter the pears.
Place in a medium pot and cover with water. Add the honey and spices.
Simmer covered until the pears are tender, 25-30 minutes. When they are tender, turn off heat and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Serve warm with some of the juice. This dish is a classic Chinese medicine preparation for lung health and helps to moisten and clear the lungs when congested. It is also a super delicious, low sugar option you will feel good about serving your family. Poached pears will keep several days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Spiced Golden Milk
Golden Milk , is a traditional Ayurvedic beverage from turmeric that can help us enjoy its earthy, nourishing flavor in a form that can be therapeutic, while satisfying and soothing to the nerves and digestion. Turmeric is widely used for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties and can be very effective at reducing chronic pain. The added spices give it a warming nature, and the black pepper especially improves the bio-availability of turmeric, making it more effective. This recipe can be adapted in any number of ways. You can substitute other types of milk based on preference or your constitution. You can also add turmeric to your bone broth instead of milk to add a depth and richness to the basic broth. This makes a hearty morning drink that leaves you feeling full and satiated for hours and can help minimize morning aches and pains.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 teaspoons ground turmeric or a large finger sized fresh turmeric root, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4-5 cardamom pods
2 thick slices of fresh ginger
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of raw honey, stirred in to taste
Melt the coconut oil over medium heat, stir in the turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper. Stir until combined into a paste. Add the almond milk and whisk until smooth. Cover and bring to a simmer, then turn to low. This will take about 5 minutes, continue to simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes then remove the saucepan from heat.
Using a mesh sieve, strain out the solids over a measuring cup with a spout. This will make it easier for you to pour and improve the texture. Pour the golden milk into cups. Stir in a little bit of raw honey to taste and enjoy while the milk is still warm.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy all these recipes with your loved ones.