Flowing into Fall With Nourishing Foods for the Season

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The sour flavour of this borscht recipe is only slight and provides a seasonally appropriate therapeutic effect without overpowering the dish

(Updated Sept 1st, 2020)

Now that summer is behind us, we begin to switch seasons into fall. As the leaves begin to change, we pull out our fall wardrobe and tuck away the summer’s old. Whether we realize it or not, we are also preparing ourselves internally for a new season, a time to let go and become more introspective.

Fall brings new awareness and the opportunity to dig deep within ourselves and cultivate a new meaning of life. Without this change, we fall victim to the idea of holding onto the old. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, fall is associated with the lungs. So with every inhalation there is an inward energetic movement, and upon exhalation we have the power to let go. When we hold onto sadness, the energy of our lungs constricts, and its partner organ (the large intestine) becomes affected. As a result, we experience constipation as we hold onto the old and still remain emotionally attached. So during meditation, why not visualize or simply be aware of what you would like to free yourself from?

During this time of year, can food help facilitate this change and aid us to look inwards? Yes. Foods which ground us and support introspection include sour foods and root vegetables. Beneficial cooking methods are those that require less water such as sautéing, baking or slow cooking our food. How do we put this together into a fall meal that makes sense?

A Recipe with Roots

During my childhood years, my mother, who is of Russian origin, made borscht for our family during the fall and winter months. Slow cooked vegetables used for this dish – tomatoes, beets, onions and potatoes – help draw in our energies and thicken our blood for the cooler weather. In recent years, I’ve tasted several versions of borscht in the city and consistently felt disappointed as my spoon picked up watery beet soup.

My mother told me that the key is to make a hearty stew incorporating flavours that are sweet, slightly sour and spicy. The sour flavour that is present in many Eastern European dishes has a cooling effect on the body so it’s important to have small quantities during the fall and winter months.

According to Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford states, “Sour-tasting food is also the ‘proper food’ for the ‘heart-mind’ (the Chinese concept of the union of heart and mind), as it plays a role in organizing scattered mental patterns.” In essence, it draws our spirits back in with its contractive, grounding nature.

The sour flavour within the following borscht recipe is only slight and provides a seasonally appropriate therapeutic effect without overpowering the dish. The spices in the recipe encourage us to free ourselves from the old and open up any constricted lung Qi caused by unresolved grief or sadness, while the root vegetables keeps us focused and centred.

I always like a good slice of bread on the side. Despite what’s been said in the past, bread isn’t all bad. The beauty of Chinese Nutrition therapy that I’ve always appreciated is its ability to find the right balance with our foods. For example, foods like bread aren’t considered bad, and can be eaten in moderation and balance.

Breads like organic rye (which tend to be bitter) have a plethora of benefits. It builds muscles and promotes energy and endurance. According to Ayurvedic Medicine (East Indian Medicine), rye reduces kapha, the water element. After a damp, humid summer, organic rye bread can aid in removing excess water from our systems.

So with great pride, I offer you a recipe that has been passed along through several generations in my family.

Russian-style Borscht

2 Tbsp organic cold-pressed olive oil
4 organic garlic cloves, minced
1 organic onion, cubed
3 Tbsp organic unpasteurized apple cider
Juice from 1 organic lemon
4 organic beets (cut in sticks)
4 organic potatoes cut in chunks (Yukon works best)
2 large ripe organic tomatoes in small chunks
2 large organic carrots or 3 small ones
1 large organic yam in small chunks
Quarter organic green cabbage, shredded
2 sticks of kombu seaweed
Quinoa or brown rice flour for thickening
Small chunks of natural or organic beef
1/2 of a medium sized pot filled with distilled water
1/2 of a medium sized pot filled with organic chicken or vegetable stock
1-2 organic jalapeno peppers
2-3 Tbsp raw honey
Sea salt as needed
Organic sour cream (for topping)

1. Sauté onions, garlic and jalapeno pepper for 5 minutes. Add tomato and sauté until the tomatoes release some of their juice. Once the tomatoes are soft and juicy, add meat. Sauté for 10 minutes until meat is cooked.

2. Once cooked, add beets and sauté for an additional 5-7 minutes. Add flour to thicken mixture. Add water and stock.

3. Add remaining vegetables to the pot and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium until vegetables are soft and leave for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in salt, vinegar, lemon and honey. Turn heat down to a simmer for approximately an hour so that flavours can marry. Flavours should be slightly sour, sweet and slightly spicy. Add salt or honey to taste and finish off with a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!

Shifting our gears into the fall helps us evaluate the usefulness of things around us. We are able to recognize the difference between what is necessary to hold onto and what we are free to let go of. Doing so provides for something new and vital. However, we can’t be asked to commit to such a task without the necessary tools. Food is our base and our foundation. It helps facilitate our being with the earth, ourselves and our spirit. It permits us to enter into the change of the seasons and flow in accordance with them. Without it, we simply don’t have the right equipment needed to let go and evolve into what we’re meant to be.

Nutritionist, Acupuncturist and creator of Sexy Food Therapy, Melissa Ramos offers a fun, attainable, and sexy way of obtaining good health. Building on that Melissa has built a strong online business selling out programs and developing entertaining and informative videos that have received worldwide attention. In addition, Ramos was a regular on CBC's Steven & Chris and has made appearances on Virgin Radio and on Yahoo! Canada's Shine Network. She has been named Woman of the Week by Women's Post magazine and also is an official health and food blogger for Huffington Post who she was named as being the top 50 health tweeters in Canada. For more, please visit: https://www.sexyfoodtherapy.com

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