Eating with the Late summer season (no recipes)

INDIAN SUMMER

It can get a bit challenging to say goodbye to all the fun we had in the summer, canuing down the creek, hopping on our bikes to get to our favorite ice cream shop or just spending endless hours outside in the warm weather. Yes indeed, it can get tricky for some of us to let go. But we have a few weeks to do it! Now we can enjoy the warm weather without the heat and maybe even the mosquitos. It kind of feels like we are rocking on a sailboat on calm waters during a sunset. But at the same time it would be wise to start thinking ahead. Yeap there is that nip in the air in the morning … the cold weather will be coming!

This transition is considered to be a short season and has been recognized by many different cultures. In the United States, it is called Indian summer, in China, the Earth season and in Hungary, old women’s summer (vénasszonyok nyara). Seasonal transitions are important to be aware of as they can be challenging on our bodies. It is worth paying attention to, especially if you are prone to problems now like having excessive mucus, digestive problems, feeling of heaviness/edema, tiredness, metabolic problems, low self esteem or craving sweets.

The ancient Chinese have observed this short time period, the Earth season (Wu Xing, 地球), to be different from all the other four seasons. This is the time of stillness when everything seems to just stop. The heat of the summer is gone, our busy lives are finally slowing down and activity becomes effortless. It is associated with stability, patience, and thoughtfulness. It is the time to stop and observe abundance around us and things we have created. As the days are getting shorter, we are moving from the time of abundance and expansion to focusing inward and cessation of abundance.

In Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with a natural element so the Indian Summer is paired with the Earth element. Also, each element has corresponding western organs. The western organs of the Earth element are the Spleen, Pancreas, Stomach and the organs they control (Muscles, Mouth). (I capitalized the organs because in Chinese Medicine, it is more like an organ is considered to be the organ itself and in its energetic functions as well).

Let’s look at the nature of the Stomach and the Spleen/Pancreas. The Stomach likes to be be cool. It starts breaking up the food it recives and passes it for further digestion. The Spleen and the Pancreas on the other hand, like to be warm. Their main job is to further work on digestion and nourish the body. The Spleen has other functions including its role in the immune system that is important especially in the fall. The Pancreas releases digestive enzymes and also is involved with regulating the blood sugar.

Just like Mother Earth in nature, our Earth element is responsible for nourishing the body. Digestion is important all year around but especially during this time to ensure that we can ease into the cold months. There is a branch in Chinese medicine that belives the Earth element is the most important for good health. Yep this season is all about eating good, healthy food. Remember this is the Harvest season.

The flavor of the Earth element is sweet. These foods are meats, dairy, and complex carbohydrates including grains, vegetables and legumes. This flavor enters and nourishes the spleen/pancreas. It has a harmonizing effect on the body exactly what we need now. This flavor is great to have any time of the year but especially important right now. However, the sweet flavor also has a tendency to cause dampness and to slow down the body; therefore, pungent flavored foods like onions, ginger are also recommended at this time. (Just on the side, exercise has similar effects).

Chosing your sweet foods wisely is also importamt. I should mention that the sweet flavor should not be overdone especially by individuals who tend to gain weight and retain water easily. This is also true for the pungent spices, they should be consumed in moderation to make sure that heat does not stay trapped in the body. Definatelly practice moderation. Of course, overprocessed foods should be avoided.

All the vegetables that grow right now are great. If you go to the farmers’ market you will see eggplants, beets, cabbage, celery, chard, cucumber, lettuce, potatoes, mushrooms, squash, sweet potatoes, yam, bitter melon. Fruits are apples, tomatoes, pears, grapes, plums. Nuts are walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, chestnuts, sesami seeds.

To harmonize with this season, it is wise to make changes to our cooking style. The emphasis should be on moderation and creating simple, harmonizing dishes with ingredients that attune with the Earth element: round, mildly sweet, yellow or golden in color. Feel free to use herbs that help digestion like dill, oregano, ginger, anise, caraway seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, lavage etc. Also, try to avoid foods that are complicated with too many ingredients or are heavy, greasy and too spicy. In other words, we need to help our digestion so we can move into the new season effortlessly. Also, it is nice to start including more warming foods in our diet like winter squashes.

If you are looking for dishes to make during the Indian Summer time period, please, click on the Indian Summer ‘keyword’ on the right and you should get all my recipes or see a few from last year below.

Plum gnocchi

Turkish stuffed eggplants

Vegetarian moussaka

Spaghetti squash stew

Maroccan eggplant stew with garbanzo beans

SOURCES

  • Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods
  • Art: Sailing by the shore by Leonid Afremov

Text by twincitiesherbs.com

Eating with the summer season (no recipes)

SUMMER

Here is the season that we had been waiting for since the winter! We have been witnessing the buds emerging on the plants and maturing into full grown plants … oh and the days getting longer and warmer. Now finally we can appreciate what nature can give: warmth, light and food. This is a great time to get outside, socialize, travel, eat the abundant fruits and vegetables or just have fun. We can take an advantage of all the gorgeous flowers blooming outside and bring them inside.

In Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with a natural element so summer is associated with Fire. Also, each element has corresponding western organs. The western organs of the Fire element are the Heart and the Small Intestines and in addition, the Pericardium and the Triple Warmer are included. Also, this element contains the Mind, a rather difficult concept for Westerners. (I capitalized the organs because in Chinese Medicine, it is more like an organ is considered to be the organ itself and its energetic functions)

One of the elements in nature is Fire, in fact, it is probably the most important one for our survival. Fire or warmth is essential to keep the body going, our metabolism and our whole body depends on it. According to Karl Jung, Fire is needed to have clear perception. Also, “psychotherapists believe that ‘cooking’ is important for meaningful changes to occur in their patients”. In fact, “throughtout the history of humankind, the symbol of Fire has always been synonymus with life”.

In Chinese Medicine, the heart, the Emperor of our body, is not necessarly treated directly as it depends on other organs for its nourishment. Basically, you are to take care of your body in order to keep the heart healthy. For prevention, we are supposed to attend to all the other organs all year around to help the heart function properly. There are several foods that are beneficial for the Heart but this list is pretty short. So this could be a quick write-up if I just wanted to list these foods but there is so much to this element and it is quite fascinating.

It is believed that if the heart is not happy, nobody is happy. So let’s see what would be ideal for a happy heart. The heart needs to be warm, neither cold or hot. So avoid getting overheated during the summer and getting too cold during the winter. Another factor that can influence our heart is our emotions. Emotions out of balance can negatively effect the heart. Furthermore, the heart’s energy tends to move downward that the bitter flavored foods support.The heart also enjoys nourishing foods. So let’s see what we can do with cooking and eating.

The heart’s ‘partner’, the Small Intestine is responsible for sorting out the pure from impure, separating the wheat from the chaff. It absorbs the usable food for assimilation and gets rid of the useless material through the colon. This is also true not only at the physical level but at the spiritual level, too. The Small Intestine helps the body sort through important information and toxic information. So the healthy Small Intestine helps us in letting go of unneeded things in our life and by the same token an unhealthy Small Intestine will accumulate toxins leading to the pollution of our body, mind and spirit.

We can certainly nourish the small intestines with food. It is part of the elimination system in our body so food would be important. Fiber rich foods will make the intestines work more efficiently and hence result in a more efficient absorption of nutrients. Foods like nuts and seeds can supply this necessary protein and fiber. Of course, any kind of whole grain is helpful as well in providing fiber. In addition, it is summer, so we can take an advantage of all the fruits and vegetables, they are an excellent source of fiber. Probiotics such lactobacilus and bifidobacterium can be beneficial for the small intestines as well which can be found in yoghurt, kefir, fermented foods etc.

The biggest issue during the summer months is the heat. So all cooling foods especially the brightly colored fruits and vegetables are great. In Chinese Medicine, the red color is associated with the Fire element. It is believed that consuming foods that are red (watermelon, strawberries, red beans, goji berries, red peppers, chili peppers, hibiscous flower) and heart shaped (chickpeas) are beneficial for the heart.

Also, to help calm the mind and deal with the heat of the summer, it is recommended to eat a more simple diet with light foods and avoiding complicated dishes. Oyster shells, whole grains, mushrooms, barley, oats, cucumber, basil, mulberries, lemon, ghee are especially useful. The flavor of the summer is bitter and it is recommended to eat bitter foods because it brings energy from the brain, the mind down to the body. (Summer bitter foods include all whole grains, bamboo shoots, celery, dill, lettuce).

To work with the summer season, mainly its heat, we need to make some changes to our cooking methods. Of course, most people will eat some raw foods; however, cooking some food is still recommended supplementing the raw foods. Cooking should be quick on high heat using little salt and more water. Add hot, pungent natured foods to your meal and eliminate heavy foods to avoid sluggishness. In hot climates, it is customary to add lots of hot peppers to open up the pores and release the excess heat from the body. (Of course, this should be done with some caution as too much hot pepper can injure the stomach).

SOURCES

Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods

Gary Dolowich: Archetypal Acupuncture

Art: Unknown

Written by twincitiesherbs.com.

A quick reference to my summer recipes

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2020/06/26/zucchini-fritatta-with-basil/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2020/07/01/blueberry-lemonade-with-basil/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2020/06/19/summer-soltice-cookies/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2020/06/08/fresh-salsa-recipe/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2020/06/06/sweet-and-sour-pork-with-rhubarb/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2020/05/30/hot-and-sour-tofu-with-rhubarb/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/10/01/moroccan-eggplant-stew-with-garbanzo-beans/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/09/19/vegetarian-moussaka/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/09/11/eggplant-parmesan/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/08/23/hungarian-cucumber-salad/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/08/18/hungarian-sour-cherry-soup-meggyleves/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/07/09/kohlrabi-soup-karalabe-leves/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/06/18/hungarian-pea-soup-borsoleves/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/06/04/black-bean-burger/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/05/21/rhubarb-cobbler/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/08/12/cucumber-pickles-1/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/08/20/pesto/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/08/31/turkish-stuffed-eggplants-with-lamb-karni-yarik/

https://twincitiesherbs.com/2019/08/31/turkish-stuffed-eggplants-vegetarian/

Eating with the spring season (no recipe)

SPRING

People in general welcome the spring season. I know it is not everybody’s favorite season but I personally get very excited about spring. I enjoy watching the plants grow and seeing how nature is slowly waking up. We can finally sit outside, eat fresh plants and wear lighter clothing. I feel that spring gives my creative energy a nice boost …

Spring is an important transition time of the year when we are moving out of the cold of the winter time into heat of the summer time. It is true as they say spring comes in as a lion and leaves as a lamb. If we prepare our body, our immune system will be able to handle the changes easier. In addition, it is important to work with this transitional season so we can cope with its harshness easier and can enjoy the heat of the summer later.

In Ancient Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with a natural element so spring is associated with wood. Also, each element has corresponding western organs. The western organs of the Wood element are the Liver and the Gall bladder along with the organs that they control: the Eyes and the Ligaments. (I capitalized the organs because in Chinese Medicine, it is more like an organ is considered to be the organ itself and its energetic functions).

However, Chinese Medicine is not just concerned about the physical body, it believes that our spiritual health is also important. The health of our Wood element can greatly effect this higher self and vice versa. It enables us to make plans, have a clear vision and allows our energy to move freely in the body. In other words, eating well during the spring can have an effect on the spiritual aspect of a person.

Our body should be flexible like a tree in the spring wind both mentally and physically. A healthy tree can easily yield to any wind and not fall over. We try to create this in our body by nourishing the liver and giving our body a break from all heavier, fatty, denatured foods, chemicals and intoxicants.

The energy of spring is more ascending and expansive like the new shoots on the plants. In a similar fashion, the liver’s energy tends to move upwards and is more active. To create this outside climate inside our body, Chinese Medicine recommends that the diet be the lightest of the year and to eat more sweet and pungent flavored foods. More complex carbohydrates like grains, cereal grasses, legumes, seeds, young beets, carrots along with all new spring foods are great sweet foods. Pungent cooking herbs like basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaves are great to help the liver’s active energy.

As I mentioned earlier, we need to give our liver a break from heavier foods. As spring comes, we naturally tend to eat less. In fact, people have been traditionally doing their fasting early spring to make a smoother transition into spring and be able to cope with summer’s heat easier. Many cultures do their annual fasting in the spring that is around what is known today as Ash Wednesday in Christianity until Easter or around the time of the first full moon after the spring equinox. The detoxifying process can be a very spiritual experience.

The bitter, sour and detoxifying foods can help this fasting process. Bitter foods are burdock root, dandelion root/leaves, artichoke, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, amaranth, quinoa, alfalfa, radish, citrus peel. Foods that detoxify and cool the liver are mung beans, celery, seaweed, lettuce, cucumber, watercress, tofu, millet, chlorophyll- rich foods, mushrooms, rhubarb stem/root. Also fresh ginger, oats, sage, fennel, pine nuts, flax seed oil are also beneficial for the liver. In addition, small amount of vinegar or lemon have all three properties. For instance, people often drink a little lemonade in the morning with maple syrup or sugar (but not honey!) and cayenne pepper to get the liver ready for the day. (Caution: do not take too much vinegar or lemon, as you can achieve the opposite effect). The juice of one lemon is great.

Our eating and cooking habits should change as spring moves in. Food should be cooked quickly at higher temperatures in other words the quick sauté method is preferred. Also, it is best to eat dinner earlier than during the winter months. I would say dinner should be done by 6-8pm. According to Chinese Medicine, Liver time when our liver is the most active is between 11pm and 1am so our food should be digested by this time so the liver can do its jobs more efficiently … and it has 100+ jobs that it does regularly …

Spring is definitely the time when we eat less and eat lighter foods. In general, the liver likes to be cool and well nourished. We should be minimizing salt, fats, meats and eggs and eat more vegetables, legumes and grains. Of course, all over-processed foods should be avoided. Just like we do spring cleaning in our homes, we need to ‘clean’ out the inside of our body.

Source

  • Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods
  • Art: Unkown

Eating with the winter season (no recipe)

Winter is rather a complex and mysterious season. It is more like cold and darkness desiring warmth.

When I’m outside in the woods in the winter, it is so quiet, I can hear every step, every movement. I always wonder about what is inside the Earth and deep inside the lakes. It is almost like you can hear it. It is so mystical. Where are all the plants and animals? As a great Hungarian poet, Petöfi Sándor put it “Nature doesn’t die, it is just sleeping”.

Winter is an auspicious time of the year for sure. In the absence of many distractions, our life quiets down. We naturally tend to turn more inward and spend time in the quiet. With the scarcity of warmth and light, we start acknowledging them more as we bring them into our lives by making bon fires outside, lighting candles or by sitting by our fire places.

In Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with a natural element so winter is associated with Water. Also, each element has corresponding Western organs. The Western organs of the water element are the Kidneys and the Bladder and in addition, the Adrenals’ and the Sexual organs are also included. I capitalized the organs because in Chinese Medicine, it is more like an organ is considered to be the organ itself and its energetic functions.

Let’s look at what the Kidneys are like. The Kidneys provide warmth and moisture and are the source of vitality. Salty (pork, salt, sea weed, barley) and warming foods (squashes and root vegetables) are great. The Kidneys ‘govern’ water metabolism and ‘control’ the Bladder. It is important to keep the Kidneys healthy during the winter months so they can perform these functions now and later in life. For vitality, it is essential to avoid too much stress and try to rest more, curl up on your sofa and read a book or do whatever your heart is desiring.

This is a great time for eating nourishing foods like bone or vegetable broths, meats and beans especially kidney and black beans. The Chinese and many other people take their nourishing, rejuvenating herbs at this time. Of course all kidney nourishing foods should be mentioned here. As we are preparing for the Holidays poppy seeds, walnuts and pork come to my mind. In addition, the following foods are also great to nourish the kidneys: millet, barley, mung bean, potatoes, spirulina, cheeses, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon bark, cloves, onions, quinoa, lamb, salmon, trout, wheat berry, sweet rice, animal kidneys, almonds, royal jelly, bone marrow soup, butter, ghee, chicken liver, chestnuts. Oh and let’s not forget the cranberries!

Paying attention to our cooking and eating methods could help us get through the harshness of the cold winter easier. Just like the trees that move their sap deep down and inward, so too energy in humans should have the same movement. The flavors of the winter, bitter and salty (of course in moderation) should facilitate this sinking, downward moving and storing energy. The bitter foods help the body’s energy to sink downward and get the body ready to store food. Winter bitter foods are oats, rye, quinoa, kale, celery, turnips, cranberries, citrus peels. Salty foods are able to move energy inward concentrating warmth inside while keeping the outside slightly cool. Salty flavor also keeps the kidneys stay moist and healthy so they can promote fluid metabolism. Salty foods are pork, barley, seaweed, salt.

Winter cooking method should focus on storage and moving energy inward. Mainly cook your foods longer at lower temperatures and use less water. Try to avoid ice, raw and greasy foods, excessive salty and bitter foods and over-eating.

If you are looking for dishes to make during the winter, please, click on the winter ‘keyword’ on the right and you should get all my winter recipes.

Sources

  • Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods
  • Art: Unkown

Eating with the fall season (no recipes)

AUTUMN

As the fall season is arriving, I feel like a little squirrel trying to get ready for the colder months: eating the colorful fruits and vegetables, storing up foods, making last minute repairs and just mentally getting ready. By now we are aware that summer is gone and a new season is coming with all its beauty and challenges. It was the Autumnal Equinox a couple of days ago, when the days and nights are equal and from now on the days are going to get shorter and colder as well.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

by Robert Frost

Autumn is a very special and unpredictable season. Every year, I marvel the beautiful vibrant colors of Autumn, the leaves on the trees and the vegetables on the table. It is the time when nature puts on its fancy clothes for the last time just to drop everything within a few weeks. It is the ending of a cycle and we know that all those leaves will turn into something new in the spring.

When I walk through the forrest, I feel so peacful. This is a time of tranquility when we start turning inward, a great time for spirituality. In the absence of creating new things, we can now focus on the importance of our existence, our spirituality. In Chinese Medicine, ” Metal symbolizes the spirit that brings meaning and purpose to existance”. We can support our Metal element and this spiritual process with foods as well.

In Ancient Chinese Medicine, the fall season belongs to the Metal element. Like every element has corresponding western organs, the Metal element’s organs are the lungs, the large intestines and ultimately the skin. If you experience problems during this season like having frequent colds/flus, dryness, skin problems, excessive mucus, try to pay attention to your eating habits as well. If the metal element is strong, the qi, the life force will circulated easier and can help our body stay health.

Let’s look at the nature of the lungs. The lungs like to be moist and warm. Moistening foods can help the lungs stay healthy (foods include spinach, barley, millet, pears, apples, almonds, eggs, home-made soy products and a little salt). Of course, warming foods of the season are great like all the squashes, carrots parsnips etc. In addition, fall is associated with the color white (leeks, white onion).

As I mentioned earlier, this season is also associated with the large intestine. Of course, it is important to include fiber rich foods … and yes … in addition this is the season of letting go … letting go of things that no longer serve us physically and mentally.

The flavor related to the Metal element is pungent. The pungent flavor is both protective, dispersing and cleansing for the lungs and the colon, exactly what they need now. To stay healthy, the stuck energy in the lungs and colon need to be dispersed. Pungent foods include all white vegetables, onions, garlic, hot peppers, chilies, cabbage, turnip, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

To attune to the fall season, we need to make some changes in our eating and cooking habits. Let’s remember this is the Harvest season! “We must be aware of its abundant yet contracting nature” that can be accomplished by eating more heartier and astringent foods. So we have grown all the foods that will be used now but have to be thinking of the weather getting colder too. Also, we need to pay more attention to cooking now as more complex dishes are needed compared to the summer quick foods. It is getting colder so try to eat more heartier soups and warming dishes instead of the salads.

Astringent foods for the fall are cranberries, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, rosemary, turnip, potatoes, chestnuts, walnuts, pears, apples, spinach, burdock root, buckwheat, millet, buttermilk, whey, kale, chard, lavender, rose, grapes and many types of beans and lentils including black, mung and aduki beans, tur dal, urad dal etc.

If you are looking for dishes to make during the fall season, please, click on the fall ‘keyword’ on the right and you should get all my fall recipes.

Sources

Written by twincitiesherbs.com.