For optimal health and vitality, traditional medical teachings recommend eating seasonally and locally. In keeping with the ancient belief that we are healthier and happier when our bodies are in tune with the cycles of nature, it follows we should eat foods that grow in our geographical area while they are in season. Traditional systems teach that foods and people in the same geographical area have "similar energy." This may be true in the sense that plants and the people living as neighbors share the same weather, air, soil and "roots." Whether indigenous or adoptive species, plants that thrive in particular areas are there because they are well-suited and have established harmony with their surroundings. When we eat foods that exist in harmony with our surroundings, it's believed we allow take some of that harmony into our own bodies.
Yet as we enter deep fall, some of the most touted fertility foods, like berries and melons, are heading out of season. But that's no reason to panic. Instead of spending a fortune this winter on raspberries that have been shipped from half-way across the world, take a deeper look at your flora. Farmer's markets are an obvious way to explore what's locally and seasonally available in your area. In addition, many larger grocery chains have begun to label produce as locally-grown when applicable.
Here are some tips for reaping the best of Fall's fertility bounty:
- Think slow, think stew. Fall and winter vegetables tend to be tougher and heartier than the delicate sprigs and tender fruits of spring and summer. Kale, collards and sweet potatoes hold up well to slow-cooking methods like stewing or braising. The benefit of stews and one-pot-meals is that the veggie cooking liquid is consumed as part of the dish, thus preserving nutrient content.
- Turn on the oven. Cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts release a caramel sweetness when slow roasted in a hot oven. These vegetables are fertility "must eats" and contain compounds that help regulate our body's hormone levels.
- Experiment with beans. Bean soups and chili are nourishing dishes that contain fiber that promotes healthy digestion and elimination.
- Squashes and sweet potatoes are anti-oxidant powerhouses. Slow roasted or mashed, they can also quench a sweet tooth.
For more info about a nutrition consultation with a Pulling Down the Moon nutritionist call 312-321-0004 (Chicago) and 301-610-7755 (Rockville).