Healthy Food Bites To-Go: Getting ‘Rooted’ in Seasonal Eating

As autumn skies grow darker earlier and temperatures drop, the body’s immune system gets tested in the transition. We are more vulnerable now, more susceptible to colds (note to self: wear a warm coat!) Our resistance is low. Dips in mood and additional fatigue and stress are knocking at your door. Don’t answer it. Instead, eat foods that the season is currently providing in abundance to get grounded for winter and prosper in it.

Cooler conditions call for warming measures, especially in the kitchen. Consuming more whole grains and root vegetables pushes blood to the surface of the body to generate heat. The inclusion of spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, Chinese 5 Spice and pumpkin spice add warmth. Manipulating food -cutting, chopping, pounding and stirring generates heat in the body while allowing theses foods to release energy. Chewing food well turns up the body’s thermostat too.

Are you eating seasonally?

Vegetables harvested from deep in the ground a.k.a. root vegetables – sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, beets, burdock root, rutabaga (a cross between cabbage and a turnip), lotus root and onions provide heartiness and sustainable energy. They ‘root’ you. And as it gets cooler outside members of the squash family such as acorn, butternut, kabocha and pumpkin heat you from the inside out.

Try something new.

Have you discovered organic Honeynut squash? This cross fits in the palm of your hand and has about 10X the sweetness and squash flavor of more traditional varieties. Bake it alone or toss into a pot of grains such as protein-packed quinoa. Sautee onions and mushrooms in a separate pan to add flavor and even more nutrition to this dish. The grain will act like kindling in your body and keep heat in!

Buy local produce.

The average American meal travels 1500 miles from farm to table. Support local farmers and tap into freshly harvested food with an optimal nutrient load. These single ingredient foods sans packaging offer bold flavor and require very simple preparation. Google is a good place to find easy cooking instructions for healthy fast food. Type in your fall favorites and get cooking.

Support the body by adjusting cooking methods for this time of year.

Slow-roasted and baked foods are in stark contrast to the raw foods of summer which are cooling. Add to the health benefits of eating raw foods (year round) by ADDING-IN hearty , slow cooked warming foods to nourish and chase away the cold.

Keep a pot of soup in the fridge for easy heating all week long. Made-from-scratch soup, ladled soup from the cafeteria, or boxed soups available on grocer’s shelves are all good options. Among my store bought soup picks are Trader Joe’s boxed black bean, tomato and butternut squash soups as well as canned lentil and minestrone. Add water to dilute added salt.

Make a conscious decision to experiment with seasonal eating in your local produce aisle. These foods act as durable logs on the fire within. Maintaining a balanced system that allows us to adjust to and thrive in the often demanding arctic air of winter is a warming thought.

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