According to Chinese Medicine, our diet should change with the seasons to keep us in tune with the energies around us. As the weather cools off for the fall, it makes sense that we should eat more warming, strengthening foods.
Using warming spices is an easy way to enhance the diet and warm the body during the colder weather. Onions, scallion, garlic and ginger help circulate qi and blood. Fenugreek, fennel, cumin, white and black pepper, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg can be used to increase the digestive fire.
Root vegetables are great fall foods because their qi moves downward, deep into the earth, which makes them nourishing for the Earth energy (Spleen and Stomach). Turnips, rutabagas, beets, carrots, burdock, daikon and parsnip are all excellent in soup or when cut into small pieces and baked with a small amount of olive oil. Try slicing a sweet potato, toast until browned and then top with almond butter and sliced banana. (Not the greatest for the Spleen Qi, but so yummy as a treat now and then).
Winter squashes like butternut, acorn, pumpkin and spaghetti squash are easy to prepare and can be used to create many different dishes. Try steaming cubes of winter squash and then dress them with olive oil, tamari, ginger and pumpkin seeds or top strings of spaghetti squash with pasta sauce. Or try baking butternut squash with a little shredded coconut and cinnamon.
Although we want to avoid excessive amounts of raw foods during the colder months, small amounts of bitter, spicy salad greens like arugula, escarole, dandelion greens or radicchio can be a welcome addition to the diet. Watercress is a traditional winter favorite with a tangy, peppery flavor. It is packed with vitamins and minerals, making it the perfect ingredient to help prevent seasonal colds.
As always, not every food is right for every person. Ask your practitioner for specific recommendations based on your Chinese Medicine diagnosis.