I have always loved the crisp air, warm spices, comforting foods, grounding energy, and the return to routine that autumn brings.
As I sit here at my computer I can almost hear the crunch and smell the earthy leaves of fall. The days are slowly getting shorter but the sun still shines brightly and lasts just long enough for sport practices and a short walk after work. It is the season of harvest, preparing for the winter, and even some lunchtime trail rides with the kids back at school. Tapping in to the energy of the season is a wonderful and important way to connect to the rhythm that we have evolved for thousands of years to be in synch with and fall is one of my favorite times to do this.
In the autumn I am immediately drawn to my kitchen as it feels grounding after the endless light and go of summer. The slightly cooler and darker evenings quietly beckon me back in. I now crave this return to the kitchen. Fall foods are comforting, warming and cozy. We brew up warm soups and stews that cook for hours and fill the kitchen with mouth watering smells all afternoon. These longer cooked dishes are wonderful for gut health as they are easier to break down and give the gut a bit of a rest. Plus, we use quite a bit of bone broth as a base which has healing gelatin, collagen and minerals. In different ancient healing practices around the world this grounding in the fall is important to balance the dry, windy, and transitional energy of the fall. With the right lifestyle and eating changes we can feel nourished by the fall instead of depleted. I find this to be true for me and am happy to bring my energy down into my roots this time of year and ground into the season.
I love when I get to pick my own apples but regardless we try to see how many different varieties of apples we can taste and cook with each fall. Stewed apples with cinnamon are one of my favorite gut healing treasures in the fall. The fiber in apples feed our good bacteria in the gut and they produce metabolites that heal our gut wall, talk to our immune system (which is really important in the fall), and even talk to our brain. We eat these stewed apples many mornings and in the afternoon with a sprinkle of chia seeds and hemp seeds and even some mct oil for a good fat. Apples rank at the top of foods with phenolic antioxidants making them high in antioxidants and especially cancer fighting quercetin. My 10 year old Clay loves to bake spicy apple crisp and even makes it gluten free for me to enjoy. Gretal loves baked apples with cinnamon, coconut sugar, and walnuts. I love making spiced gluten free apple cake and John’s heart lies with an almond and cranberry apple pie. But really, is there anything easier and more delicious than sliced apples with cinnamon?
Stirring My Brew (aka spicy chai)
There is not much more that says fall in our family than a brewing pot of chai on the stove. It lures people out of their rooms and into the kitchen to comment year after year “ah, it smells like fall”. The spices of chai are warming to the body and the soul. Cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, cloves, and pepper. All full of healing nutrients to boot (see below). We brew these spices for an hour and then add black tea for a few minutes and strain. After we pour this into anxiously awaiting mugs we add honey and a splash of milk of choice (some like coconut, some cashew, and others full fat cows milk) and savor each cozy and warming sip.
Fall Ritual- Prepping for winter
There are years I am better at preserving foods than others. Sometimes I jar tomatoes or chop and freeze squash, green beens, berries, etc but what I am most consistent with is prepping my fall and winter supply of Fire Cider. I love this ritual. People have been enjoying the immune support and digestive support of fire cider for decades. I love this kind of preserving because there are no rigid rules or formulas. Once you do it a few times you can change it up, add different ingredients or change up the quantities to your liking. My favorite recipes are part of the Healing Foods Club . Making Fire Cider is affordable and rewarding. I take a shot of this fire cider in warm water every morning as part of my morning fall/winter ritual to support my gut, my immune system, and my morning energy.
The fall reminds us that it is okay to let go of what does not serve us or what has transitioned on. As I watch the beautiful golden and red leaves fall to the earth I am reminded to let go. Just when the world is so supremely beautiful, with the snow on the mountains and the bright leaves on the aspens, it is time to let go. All things have their time. Their seeding, their growing, their burning bright, their clinging, their letting go, their becoming one with the earth, and then the seed again. Our crazy world today allows us to think we can have it all all the time but leaning into the seasons reminds us of the importance of the cycle and also gives us a chance to slow down, release, enjoy what is right in front of us. I use my breath, specifically my exhale, as much as I can to release what is not serving me, even if I want to cling to it forever. I use my inhale to feel gratitude for all that I have and love. It is a practice every day as I am far from perfect at this.
The Female Cycle and The Seasons
I love teaching the Women’s Hormone Club and one of my favorite parts is when we go into the different energies of the female cycle. When we tap into the different hormones that are present during each phase of our monthly cycle we often notice that there is a time of the month that we feel more driven, a time we feel more social, a time we feel more introspective, a time we feel like planning, and a time we feel quieter. When we put that cycle over the time frame of the year there is a similar pattern for the seasons of the year. The fall is the time associated with the luteal phase in a woman’s cycle. The time after ovulation when progesterone rises, bringing with it a feeling of calm and going inside oneself a bit more, a coziness, and preparing for what is to come.
Trick or Treats
As a nutritionist some of the candy and food coloring that comes along with Halloween drives me nuts. I have learned that having some treats around the house this time of year that I feel better about curbs the craving to get ravenous around some of the scarier options out there. Some of our favorites are making chocolate mint, chocolate peanut butter, and lemon coconut cups. Another favorite is gluten free pumpkin squares with cream cheese frosting (I also love these as muffins without frosting). These are delicious and remind me of growing up! Another thing I try to do is load the kids and adults up on plenty of protein rich foods before they snack on treats so they do not eat candy when they are hungry. Do you have a trick to keep a happy or balanced relationship with the treats of halloween?
Fall Foods and Spices
Foods that are in season in the fall include- pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, chard, apples, broccoli, sweet potatoes, kale, mushrooms, cabbage, fall squash, grapes, pomegranate and more. Download my cozy fall recipe book loaded with clean recipes here and share what fall foods you love to cook in your kitchen. Check out my blog and Instagram for more seasonal recipes too. My seasonal elixir guide is part of the Healing Foods Club. Classic fall spices incude-
- Ginger – is a wonderful spice for digestion, it reduces nausea, is anti-inflammatory, and has anti-microbial properties
- Cardamom -may help to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and protect against cancer
- Cinnamon – may help with blood sugar balance and downstream hormone balance
- Cloves – may also help regulate blood sugar, reduce inflammation, protect against cancer, and support the liver health
I grew up celebrating harvest on the farm and now have a small backyard garden to work and enjoy. I love taking the time to harvest what we have put energy and intention into. This is true for harvesting food but also harvesting ideas, plans, emotions, relationships, work, etc. In the spring we consider what seeds we want to plant, how we will feed and water them, and then in the fall I try to reflect on how things have been going and celebrate the work I have done. This has become a wonderful ritual in the fall for me. I consider how my heart feels, how my body feels, and how my brain feels this time of year and celebrate all that has grown and honor what I have learned so far in the year.
All of this and we haven’t even talked about Thanksgiving yet! I suppose that is for another time.
Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP
Lover of the mountains, the seasons, all things wild, and also helping people understand the physiology of their body and how food and lifestyle impact their health.