Every year around this time, I get nostalgic as summer draws to a close and the season starts to change. The dry heat and sticky humidity that radiate from the pavement before sunrise turns to fresher, cooler air and I prepare to say goodbye to sunny skies and sandy beaches and embrace rich harvests and crisp breezes.
Fall is my favorite time of year. During the summer months I find myself living a light, airy more whimsical lifestyle while fall signifies a time of deep grounding and getting back to my roots.
As the seasons change, food plays an important role in how I support my body and eating seasonally cues my mind as to what foods are best to prepare. Think of the foods that appeal to you in July and those that are more attractive in January.
In the heat of summer, our bodies crave foods like cucumbers, watermelon, green salads and sea vegetables like seaweed and wakame. The quality of these foods tends to be more cooling. Both color and preparation are at the core of cooling characteristics. Green, blue and purple fruit and vegetables have more cooling properties and eating these foods raw or preparing them lightly by steaming or blanching supports their cooling nature.
The cooler months call for heating foods like soups and root vegetables such as onions, cabbage and winter squash. Like the leaves on a tree in October, red, orange and yellow fruit and vegetables are naturally more warming and cooking these foods longer as in baking or frying enhances their warming properties. Adding herbs and spices can also make a food cooling – lemon and cilantro – or warming – cinnamon, clove and cayenne pepper.
The concept of cooling and warming foods is rooted in the ancient Chinese medicinal teachings of yin (cooling) and yang (heating) and the quest for balancing the two. The energy of food and how it affects the body is dependent on whether it is cooling or warming thus expounding on the old saying, “You are what you eat.”
Just as we retire our bathing suits and break out our sweaters as the temperature drops, so we should behave similarly with our food. As a CSA member, I am fortunate to have easy access to seasonal foods. Add to that an ounce of mindful preparation and a pinch of a listening ear to my body and I have the perfect recipe for surviving any season.