Autumn Foods to Keep You Healthy When It's Chilly

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The earth is intelligent and generous, sending forth foods and herbs for our bodies at just the right time. We’ve written before about the dandelion, which bursts up in spring, and then helps the body slug off its winter weight. And we all know about the delicious and hydrating crop of cucumbers that arrives on the hottest summer day.

Now autumn is here, with all of the season’s attendant beauty and chills. Temperatures reach low, pollen counts change daily, and then in the middle of it all, the sun shows itself again for a happy but disorienting last blaze of summer.

Weather-watchers may anticipate, but our bodies just try to keep up, which is just the time to call on the earth as our ally. Here’s how:

  • Eat what’s around. Our oft-repeated advice, but especially important when you’re trying to flow healthily from one season to the next. The difference between summer and autumn, here, is that autumn veggies can’t be eaten right off the vine, and so require more preparation (think pumpkins and squash). Get recipes, and persevere!
  • Eat warming foods. Warming isn’t the same as warm (though warm is good too!) Warming is easiest found in spices – ginger is our go-to for the summer to fall transition. Garlic is another warming staple; so too cinnamon and of course curry blends (for the most part). As for fruits and vegetables, broccoli tops the charts. And most meats are warming, so boil a batch of bone broth (did you know you can freeze broth in glass mason jars?) and turn on the crock pot.
  • Tonify. No, this doesn’t mean tone, as in hopping on the exercise bike or running over to the latest yoga class. Tonify means to nourish, and the clue here is often the depth of color. Excellent tonifying foods include shitake mushrooms (or the less frequently found turkey tail), and deep greens like chard and kale.
  • Supplement. This is a wonderful time to supplement meals with herbal preparations, whether as teas or tinctures. While Echinacea isn’t as ubiquitously helpful as many claim, it can (in the right doses – best to consult an herbalist) be an excellent defense in the immediate onset of autumn colds. And aster provides a calming effect, wonderful for tightening muscles brought on by the chill.

With these tips on hand, you should be ready to step into autumn with vigor and excitement at the bonfires ahead.