In Southern Ontario, Autumn is in full swing. And we love it. Unfortunately, like many of our friends, we have also been affected by the cold virus. That’s something that can happen with the changing of the seasons.
Now that we are mostly feeling better, we have been going outside every day to enjoy the changing landscape and enjoy the crisp chill in the air. Apple-picking is a favourite fall activity for our family. The boys always get a thrill out of running through the orchard and choosing the juiciest apples they can find. So, on Sunday, we dressed warmly and headed to our favourite organic orchard to pick apples.
Upon returning home with our delicious bounty, I was filled with inspiration to get in the kitchen and cook something seasonal and heart-warming. More on that below.
In Ayurveda, the fall season is governed by Vata, which is composed of ether and air. It’s no surprise that for many of us, this season also signifies the start of the cold virus. The lazy, lingering summer days are rarely strictly structured, keeping us up late at night and encouraging us to take cat naps in the hot and hazy afternoons. The following fall season signifies a complete change in energy. Suddenly, everything moves faster as we try to get back to our regular routine, sometimes anxiously struggling to keep up. This sudden change in routine can be incredibly stressful for the body and the mind.
As someone with a dominant Vata dosha and a bit of Pitta, I love the fall season for the relief it provides from the humid and hot summer days. However, I get cold very quickly and when it seems to me like most people around me are walking around in September with short-sleeved t-shirts on, I can be seen wearing a cozy sweater. I no longer feel self-conscious about this. I do what I need to do to take care of myself.
What else do I do to take care of myself, following the lessons of Ayurveda for the Vata season? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll share with you what I do, and please feel free to borrow these ideas for your own self-care, particularly if your constitution is mostly Vata.
I go to sleep between 9 and 10 p.m. every night and wake up at 5 a.m. This ensures that I get 7-8 hours of sleep on most nights. In the morning, after oil pulling and brushing my teeth, I drink a tall glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice and then exercise for an hour (yoga, cardio, pilates, or weights). After I shower, I do an oil massage before sitting down to have breakfast.
I eat at approximately the same times every day: breakfast at 7:30 a.m.; lunch at 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.; dinner at 5-5:30 p.m. I consume a lot of healthy oils (avocado, coconut oil, EVOO) and hot, unctuous, mostly liquid foods such as steel-cut oats with cooked apples and cinnamon, soup, vegetable stews, etc. I still eat my greens (kale and spinach are great), but I either sprinkle the leaves on a hot bowl of stew/soup or consume a salad massaged with a lot of oil (see above) immediately prior to eating my soup/stew. I eat cooked/roasted root vegetables with — again — lots of oil. Why is oil consumption so important? The air and ether qualities of Vata mean that during this season, we have a tendency to feel dryness. We need the moisture, both on the surface of the skin and on the inside of the body.
If you, like I do, eat meat occasionally, I would suggest eating salad (at room temperature), followed by lean meat at lunchtime. Our digestion is strongest from 10 a.m. to 1-2 p.m. As such, my substantial meals are breakfast and lunch. Dinner for me is small and simple. Usually, I will have a bowl of soup with a toast of sprouted grains topped with avocado and sea salt. Eating dinner before the sun sets is also ideal, because our digestive system slows down after sundown. Of course, since the sun starts to set earlier these days, it’s best to try to eat dinner at around 5 p.m., if possible.
Interested in additional information on self-care during this season? I love this website and use it frequently as a great resource.
So, to summarize, this is a time to sloooooow down and get grounded, luxuriate under warm blankets, eat grounding food with healthy oil, and get plenty of rest. What about exercise? That, too, should be more grounding at this time. Long walks are excellent, as is a yoga practice with slow, deliberate Vinyasa and standing/balance postures held for a few long breaths. Restorative yoga is excellent right now.
A couple of years ago, shortly after our younger son was born, I felt I needed to get outside and move, but I also craved rest and relaxation to get me through the long days of taking care of our two children. And no, that pattern has not changed. Here is a video I made during that time, a how-to of one of my favourite restorative yoga postures, Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose):
Feel free to use a few blankets and cushions in lieu of the bolsters and blocks, if you do not have those at home. Relax and breathe in the pose for about 10-15 minutes.
So, back to the weekend… Here is what I cooked using butternut squash and the beautiful apples we picked on Sunday:
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP
We started with a few basic ingredients:
Then, we chopped the onion and sauteed it with ghee while continuing with the preparation of our apples and butternut squash…
We reserved the butternut squash seeds and roasted them later on a baking sheet at 300F for about 30 minutes. I didn’t add any oil or sea salt to the seeds this time, but that’s a great option, if it’s the way you like your pumpkin/squash seeds.
Cook the squash and onions in a large soup pot, and then add the apples, a teaspoon of sea salt, and a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground turmeric.
Add enough distilled water to cover the chopped squash and apple, and then top with another 3-4 inches of water. You can use vegetable stock in lieu of the water.
Bring the soup to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes or until the squash is completely tender. Allow to cool a bit before using a blender to create a smooth consistency:
Yes, our soup was steaming hot while we blended it, simply because we were hungry and our children kept asking when dinner was going to be served. I would highly recommend allowing the soup to cool before blending it.
To serve, we sprinkled the soup with cinnamon, but those roasted seeds were also great. We garnished the soup with the seeds for dinner the following day.
1 tbsp ghee (coconut oil or butter can also be used)
1 medium-sized white or yellow onion
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped, with the seeds reserved for roasting
2 apples (choose firm, tart apples that will hold well together during the cooking process)
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Enough water to cover the chopped squash and apples, plus 3-4 inches on top. An alternative is to add vegetable stock.
Enjoy, and let us know what you think!
Our final update is regarding our latest product finishes. We are preparing for the Made by Hand Show and creating new, unique, interesting pendants for you.
Knitting-inspired pendant, made of Purpleheart wood and crushed shell inlay.
SUP-inspired pendant, made of Red Amboyna Burl, with turquoise inlay.
We do like insects! Praying mantis pendant, made of Purpleheart wood with crushed shell inlay.
As always, please leave a comment to let us know what you think of our new products, this week’s recipe, yoga pose, or about whether you enjoy the fall season as much as we do. If you did take the Dosha quiz (link above), let us know what your Dosha is and how you cope with weather changes.
Until next time, enjoy the week!