Autumn is the time when we harvest our crops from the earth and once again nature is providing us with a clue as to what is best to eat during this dry, windy, Vata time. The foods available to us in autumn are grounding, nourishing and warming to the body and also help calm the mind. Preparing root vegetables makes us aware of how important it is to let go, clear our mind of the past and make space for rest and reflection.
When it gets colder our digestive fire increases and therefore autumn represents the perfect time to add more fats, oils (ghee), and sesame seeds to our cuisine. These foods will promote lubrication, moisture and instantly calm restless Vata. Best for this time are warm, freshly sautéed or cooked vegetables with salty, sour or sweet taste: carrots, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, asparagus, couscous, rice, honey, almonds, pistachios, dates and cashew nuts. Warm spices in addition, not only warm the body, stimulate circulation and detoxify but also have a calming effect on the mind.
Couscous/Amaranth with Raisins and Nuts
Starting your day with a warming and nourishing amaranth or couscous dish represents a perfect choice for cooler, busy autumn days. Sweet in flavour, this dish will ground your active mind and awaken a feeling of deep contentment. The high fibre content of the mixture not only encourages weight-loss and cleanses the bowels but also satisfies hunger and cravings for sweet foods. The sour taste of raisins warms up the metabolism and stimulates digestion, the ghee lubricates your tissues, and the sweet spices increase circulation, which in turn warms up your body, increases energy levels and overall happiness and joy.
Collect and prepare:
- 1/2 cup of amaranth or couscous according to your choice. You can also use rye or oats.
- 1/4 cup of almonds
- 1/4 cup of raisins
- 1/4 cup of dates
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 cup water
- Feel free to experiment and add cooked apples to the dish, although fruits are best eaten on their own before a meal if possible. During autumn the best way to prepare fruits is to steam or cook them.
- Soak the almonds overnight; peel and chop them in the morning. Remove the stones from the dates and cut them into small pieces.
- Melt the ghee and add ginger, cardamom and nutmeg.
- Add all the remaining ingredients (except the water) and stir well.
- Finally, add the water and bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until the amaranth becomes soft to chew. If you choose to use couscous, boil water in a separate pot and pour it over the mixture, then remove from the heat and allow for the ingredients to absorb the water.
- Once the dish has cooled down to room temperature, you can sweeten to taste using natural honey and decorate with a pinch of cinnamon.
Butternut Squash Soup
This nourishing and moisturising soup is a perfect mix of warming vegetables and stimulating as well as grounding spices. The autumn winds are known to make us feel anxious, empty and restless but this soup will bring comfort, satisfaction and cosiness to the autumn. Butternut squash is very nourishing, easy to digest and will heal stomach complaints and constipation brought on by the change in weather. More importantly, due to its anti-inflammatory properties and its carotene (also found in sweet potatoes, carrots and potatoes), it soothes and cools down overheated livers and nourishes dry eyes. Garlic, onion and ginger, also known as 'tri-root', boost your immune system, which needs support during the autumn. Garlic and onion improve circulation, and ginger and black pepper help your body to remove excess damp and mucus from the lungs, protecting you on cold, damp days. Sweet, warming spices help to digest all of the ingredients. This brings contentment without feeling heavy after a meal, aids with detoxification, and prevents inflammation in heat-sensitive Pitta.
Collect and prepare:
- 1 butternut squash
- 3 potatoes/1 sweet potato
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/2 lime
- 2 tablespoons of ghee
- 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
- Black pepper
- Cut and peel potatoes, sweet potatoes and cut the butternut squash into small cubes without pealing.
- Melt the ghee in a large wok. Add sliced onions and sauté.
- As the onions start to brown add the chopped ginger and garlic. Add salt, pepper and fennel seeds. Continue sautéing for a couple of seconds, then add butternut squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes and sauté once again.
- Add water and let simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes.
- Purée with a blender, add the juice of half a lime.
- Feel free to garnish with cashew nuts and add additional seasoning according to your taste. Serve with healthy and grounding home-made brown bread.
Baked Apples/Pears with Warming Spices
This is another very simple, high in fibre, grounding and nerve relaxing dish, with ingredients taken directly from your own garden! It can be either eaten for breakfast to aid morning detoxification and increase your energy levels ready for the day ahead or on the other hand, it can be consumed as a sweet treat to help ease you into evening relaxation on long, rainy, autumn days. While cooked apples give you the feeling of being nurtured and soothe your digestion, hot ghee lubricates the entire gastrointestinal tract, helps body tissues rejuvenate and relaxes the nerves. Cardamom, ginger and rosemary reduce gas, promote relaxation, sweating and the expulsion of toxins through the skin.
Collect and prepare:
- 3 apples/pears
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- Preheat oven to 190 degrees.
- Wash apples/pears, cut them in half, remove cores, then spread out on baking paper with the flesh facing up.
- Use melted ghee and evenly drizzle over the apples or alternatively brush over every single one.
- Sprinkle fresh rosemary, cardamom and ginger evenly over the top of the apples. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Serve hot and feel free to sweeten with honey.
- Feel free to try adding other spices such as clove, cinnamon or vanilla.
Collect and prepare for one glass:
- 1 cup organic whole milk (almond milk is ok)
- 1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
- 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
- Pinch of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom powder
- Tiny pinch of saffron (optional)
- Raw honey to sweeten
- Bring the milk to boiling point but make sure it does not boil over.
- Add the ghee and spices while stirring and keep simmering over a low heat until all the powder dissolves in the milk. Optionally you can use a hand blender.
- Remove from the heat and cool down to drinking temperature.
- Add honey to sweeten; you can also add extra cinnamon if you like.
As it gets colder outside, return back home earlier in the day in order to spend some time experimenting and preparing warm, nourishing and soothing dishes for your body and mind. Once you have tried out one of the soothing recipes, your body will naturally ask for more, which may inspire you to invent an entire bunch of new autumn recipes!