Transition Time: from Late Summer to Fall

Today is the first day of Autumn, officially the Autumnal Equinox. However, we’re not really into fall yet; we’re in transition time, which is the perfect time to prepare! According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, we’re in the 5th season, known as Late Summer. I actually love this, since it’s so evident. We’re coming out of summer before the crisp weather of fall — it’s still hot at times, joyful, brilliantly colorful and sensual. Definitely not summer and definitely not fall. In between!

During transition times we can wisely learn to pay attention to what feels good and is good for us. Our awareness can lead us to the right foods for health and harmony, and to a great deal of seasonal pleasure at the table!

Healthy foods for transitioning into fall

Fall is beckoning, but we’re not quite ready to get out our big heavy braising pots. The last of the heirloom tomatoes and fresh corn sit side-by-side with figs and apples at the farm market, along with the first pickings of winter squash (kobocha, delicatas, butternuts). 

Winter squashes and many of the star root vegetables (carrots, beets and parsnips) are EXCELLENT for cognitive functioning, focus, and learning (just in time for back-to-school!). Fall Immune boosters include winter squashes (antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant), and pomegranates (antiinflammatory, memory and mood enhancers). Sweet potatoes are blood pressure regulators and helpful for cardiovascular health. Definitely handy! See also Eating with the seasons: orange is for fall

Recipes for transition time

Getting in the swing of eating veggies is like igniting a pilot light on a stove: it may take several tries, but once it’s lit, the flame burns steadily. My challenge is to present important vegetables—and, none is more vital for brain health than kale—in ways that will kick-start your taste for this superfood. Here, I’ve paired kale with an autumn favorite, delicata squash, along with garlic, red pepper flakes, and freshly squeezed lemon juice to create a dish that’s both a delight to the eyes and the taste buds.The chopped roasted hazelnuts take the entire concoction completely over the top. It’s ablaze with flavor and should leave you burning for more.

Back in the days when I was a kitchen serf, I received a great piece of culinary advice from a cook. She said to take a food you wanted to work with and imagine preparing it thirty different ways. That’s a mental exercise that has served me well over the years, because certain foods are so valuable from a health perspective that they need to show up time and again in new and interesting forms. So it is with lentils. They’re so versatile, and they act as a great backdrop for salads and side dishes. In this recipe, they’re the foundation for a wonderful blend of citrus and crunch, with fennel, sweet roasted beets, and walnuts all gleefully playing together in the sandbox. Now I just have to come up with twenty-nine more lentil combinations to satisfy that cook.

Are you aware that sweet potatoes CAN be a scrumptious treat? These delicious bars are a great favorite from The Longevity Kitchen. They remind me of a healthier version of the lemon bars I used to make as a kid. Probably because this is a treat any youngster would like, a great combination of a vegetable-based sweet snack and a nutty, gluten-free crust. Sweet Potatoes and cinnamon have great antioxidant and blood sugar regulating capacity, making them a great anytime bar. They’re so nutrient dense it doesn’t take much to feel completely satiated, and the tastes are so delightful that you’re blissfully aware of every bite.

IT’S TIME TO GET SEASONAL AND START INCORPORATING SOME OF THOSE SAVORY FLAVORS OF FALL! ISN’T IT INTERESTING HOW MANY OF THE WINTER SQUASHES AND ROOT VEGETABLES ARE IMMUNE-SYSTEM BOOSTERS? WE CAN PREPARE FOR FALL/WINTER AND DELIGHT OUR TASTEBUDS AT THE SAME TIME :)