AUTUMN COOKING: Cooking for a Harvest of Joy and Health
© Jane Q. Stanchich
Cooking is the art of life. Taking the time to prepare organic, whole foods from the Earth is one of the most life-affirming acts one can do to create and sustain good health. Cooking is a beautiful combination of nourishment for the body, mind, and spirit and eating, while fun and sensual, is truly a spiritual practice.
When we make the decision to eat foods that best nourish us and lovingly protect our Earth, we are attuning to the harmony and power of Nature. Our bodies can then achieve greater wellness and balance in each season.
It is now Autumn, the season in which the Earth gives us a profound and beautiful gift of life: a bounty of health-giving grains, beans, and vegetables to nourish and sustain us through the coming winter. As we give ourselves and our loved ones these wholesome foods, we may truly enjoy, savor, and appreciate their goodness.
Autumn days are now becoming more chilly and crisp. We observe the leaves changing from green to gold and red, deepening in color, becoming dry and falling from the trees. Golden sweet squash and pumpkin add to the harvest abundance. We can begin to prepare our bodies for storing up greater warmth and strength through the foods we select and the manner in which we cook.
In the summer months with the colorful salads, juices, raw foods and fruits, we cool our bodies, now it is time to begin to stoke up the heat here in the mountains. (Climates vary, of course. I am addressing those who need more warmth in their foods due to climate change or personal needs.) To eat an excess of raw food in a cold climate is like going out on a chilly day wearing a thin T-shirt.
Traditional macrobiotic wisdom teaches us that now we need longer, stronger cooking with food prepared with more fire, time, pressure, and a bit more salt. However, each person’s condition, climate, and needs are unique, so study and get proper guidance for your health.
Autumn entrees, if one wants more warmth, are created from ingredients that are generally cut larger, cooked longer, with a bit more salt, are less watery, and served warm. Appropriate in Autumn are savory stews, richer soups, longer boiled (nishime-style) vegetables, more pressure cooking of grains, along with essential pressed salads, simple steamed or boiled greens, desserts and beverages. Sweeter flavors, soothing textures, and “comfort type” favorite foods bring us greater warmth, health, and joy at this season.
Careful organic food selection helps us better acclimate to and enjoy the cooler weather. Select warming grains such as millet, mochi, and whole oats, as well as brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, and other delicious whole grains. Root vegetables are at their height of perfection this time of year. Along with the perennial carrot, daikon, cabbage, greens, and onions, prepare rutabaga, turnip, parsnip, beets, and the vast array of colorful squash and pumpkin. If cutting squash is difficult, as your produce manager or farmer to cut it for you. We love to visit organic farmer’s markets to fill bushel baskets with all of these life-giving foods.
Celebrate with very close family members at a Thanksgiving dinner and savor the blessings of hearth, and health. Add in a virtual toast and visit with distanced family and friends. Stay safe and well this Autumn!
Love and Gratitude to my amazing genius of a husband, Lino, who saved my life by introducing me to the macrobiotic diet and lifestyle and has brought me great joy and fulfillment in this adventure of life ~ Motto: “Never a dull moment!”