Choosing Foods for Autumn, Changes in Schedule

Autumn has arrived and as with all change of seasons, its a great time to take a look at how we can incorporate more seasonal foods into our meals as a way to support our bodies. In the fall, is is suggested by Chinese Medicine to eat fewer cold, uncooked foods — such as salads — and more warm, cooked foods. Switch from salads to soups and steamed vegetables. Incorporate yellow and red foods into your meals.

The original texts that serve as the foundation for Traditional Chinese Medicine recognize fall as being a time of winding down, paying attention to emotional states and spending more time in quiet environments and contemplation.

“In the three months of autumn all things in nature reach their full maturity. The grains ripen and harvesting occurs. The heavenly energy cools, as does the weather. The wind begins to stir. This is the changing or pivoting point when the yang, or active, phase turns into its opposite, the yin, or passive, phase. One should retire with the sunset and arise with the dawn. Just as the weather in autumn turns harsh, so does the emotional climate. It is therefore important to remain calm and peaceful, refraining from depression so that one can make the transition to winter smoothly. This is the time to gather one’s spirit and energy, be more focused, and not allow desires to run wild. One must keep the lung energy free full, clean, and quiet. This means practicing breathing exercises to enhance lung Qi. Also, one should refrain from smoking and grief, the emotion of lung. This will prevent the kidney or digestive problems in the winter. “

                                                – Huangdi Neijing Suwen, Chinese Medicine Classic

When we shop for produce, the following supportive foods should be easy to find this autumn:

Fruits: Apples, Berries (blackberries, cranberries), Dates, figs, grapes, jicama, mandarin oranges, pears, persimmons, Plum, pomegranate, quince, rosehips, bananas

Veggies: Bell pepper, Bok Choy, broccoli, burdock root, cabbage (red, green, napa) carrot, Cauliflower, fresh corn, cucumber, diakon radish, eggplant, dried garlic, ginger root, horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, lettuces, okra, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, rutabaga, shallot, spinach, squash (acorn, banana, buttercup, butternut, delicata, hubbard, spaghetti), sweet potato, tomato, turnip, yams

In addition, these foods are great to fill in around your produce to complete a meal:

Grains(cooked): amaranath, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, wild rice, rye, wheat,

Beans: adzuki, black, black eye, carob, garbanzo, Great Northern, kidney, lentil, lima, Navy, peanut, pink, red, soy, white.

Nuts: Almond, Brazil, cashew, filbert, macadamia, pecan, pignolia. Pistachio, walnut

Seeds: Flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower

Spices: Rosemary, sage, thyme, cinnamon, garlic

In addition, I’d like to mention a scheduling change here at IHD. Going forward, Jennifer will be available for appointments on Tuesdays 8a-6p, Wednesdays 8a-6p and Fridays 8a-1p. Amy is available by request and you can reach her at (415) 889-0474. As always, feel free to request appointments online

Drinking Congee for Cold Season

With fall quickly approaching, we should be getting ready for cold season. Of course, the best plan is to not get sick by keeping your stress low, sleeping and eating well and washing your hands often. However, in the event a cold does make it past your immune system, it is best to be prepared with a tool box to fight with!

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Congee- or rice porridge- is frequently used to deliver medicinal herbs or foods into the body in a gentle and easily absorbed way. Depending on the condition of the patient the doctor will suggest specific herbs, spices or foods to be added to the congee to treat the ailment. Congee is made with plain white rice and should be cooked until it is thin enough to drink.

Here are 2 recipes I often prescribe for colds and cough that are common in the fall and early winter months:

For the beginning stages of a cold with chills, low grade fever, body aches, mild headache, congestion and a mild cough

Ingredients:

5 Whole Scallions
15g (about 4 or 5 one inch slices) Fresh Ginger Root

100g (1/2 c) White Rice (not long grain)

Cook rice into a porridge. You can do this over low heat on the stove on in a crock pot. It will take about 2-3 hours. Mash the scallions and ginger into a pulp (a quick trip through the food processor will work too). Add pulp to porridge and simmer for 20 more minutes. Divide into 2 or 3 doses and warm drink every 4 hours. Add water to reheat if needed.

 

For a cough with phlegm and wheezing with possible vomiting of phlegm

Ingredients:

60g (3/4-1 cup) Chopped Fresh Mustard Greens

100g (1/2 c) White Rice (not long grain)

Wash and cut mustard greens. Add to rice and cook into a porridge. You can do this over low heat on the stove on in a crock pot. It will take about 2-3 hours. Divide into 2 or 3 doses and warm drink every 4 hours. Add water to reheat if needed.

Balancing the Yang

Those of us who practice Chinese Medicine look at everything as being a balance between Yin and Yang. When we refer to Yang, we are speaking of things that are warming, active, outward focused, creative and energetic. Yin refers to things that are cooling, inward focused, calming, grounding, restorative. The balance between the two is essential to health in all aspects of our lives.

Chinese medicine also views the seasons as having Yin or Yang qualities. For example, Summer is a very Yang time of year when the weather is warm, we are more extroverted, we stay awake for more hours of the day. Winter, is certainly a more Yin time when the weather and daylight encourage us to sleep more and to spend less time at home instead of socializing.

It is important to remember that we can work to balance these seasonal influences when we feel symptoms arise. It is certainly possible for the Summer months to aggravate any Yang conditions like anxiety, skin rashes and insomnia. And while we may be feeling more energetic, it is possible to over exert that energy, leaving us exhausted and prone to colds or viral infections by the end of the season. The way we combat the heat and high Yang energy of the summer is with cooling Yin foods and calming Yin activities.

Some cooling Yin foods to combat the heat of the Yang Summer include cucumber, celery, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, tofu, yogurt, lemons and mung beans. A few of my favorite recipes are this Watermelon Salad and this Cucumber, Yogurt and Dill Cold Soup. 

Some calming activities to balance the high energy Yang activities of summer include yoga, walking, slow swimming, meditation and Qi Gong. Read more here about Yin Yoga and Qi Gong.

Hopefully you can include some of these to help you stay cool during this hot Yang season. Happy Summer!