We live in a culture where most foods are available to us at any time of the year. Go into your local food store in the middle of winter and you will probably find strawberries, despite the fact that they are only able to grow in our climate for a few months of the year.
However, long ago it was discovered that our internal organs respond in very specific ways to seasonal changes in the weather and diet. Our bodies function best when we eat like our ancestors did, consuming foods appropriate to the season. In every season, particular foods stimulate chi—or vital energy—to flow through our organs. This cycle repeats itself every year, creating Mother Nature’s perfect plan for nourishing each organ of our body.
Although this concept may seem new to some of you, it is something you know intuitively. Think about the foods that you crave in the warm summer months and those you are craving now. Are they the same? Probably not. While fresh fruits, smoothies, and salads may make your mouth water in the summer, warming soups and casseroles are more likely what your body may be starting to crave.
Below are some of the ways your cooking should change as you adjust from the warmer to the cooler months ahead:
Cooking Style: more heat; longer cooking time; more baking, boiling, stews, soups, crock-pot meals; less raw foods
Vegetables: rounder, denser, compact veggies such as winter squash (acorn, butternut, delicata, kabocha), potatoes, yams, root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips); sturdy winter greens (kale, collards, chard); less raw vegetables and vegetables juices
Grains: warming grains such as sweet or short grain rice, buckwheat, oatmeal, and millet
Beans: larger beans that require a longer cooking time such as chickpeas, black beans, aduki beans, pinto beans
Seasonings: more oils (olive, sesame, ghee); darker miso (red, brown rice); warming spices (ginger, garlic, cumin, cinnamon); more vinegar (balsamic, rice, apple cider, plum)
Fruits: only what is in season, possibly cooked (apples, pears, cranberries, pomegranate); less fruit juices
Not only does eating seasonally subtly connect you to your surroundings, it can give your organs a boost and help your body to function better. If you are not sure what’s in season where you live, visit your local farmers market to see what fresh produce is being offered. If you cannot shop at a farmers market in the winter, start by looking for some of the seasonal fruits and vegetables listed above.
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed
1 small pear, cored and shredded
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
1/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp honey or agave nectar
- In a large pot, steam the kale until tender. Once cooled, squeeze out the excess liquid and place in a large bowl.
- In a medium bowl, combine the shredded pear, cranberries, pomegranate, and walnuts.
- In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, olive oil, cinnamon, sea salt and honey to taste; add to the pear mixture.
- Top the kale with the sweet cinnamon dressing, pears, cranberries, pomegranate and walnuts.
- This dish tastes best when it sits for at least 30-minutes before serving (allowing the kale to soak up the dressing).
This is one of my favorite holiday recipes! The colors are so vibrant and festive on any holiday table 🙂