[Seasonal Harmony 季节的和谐]
Autumn is Lung/Large Intestine Season
By Ellasara Kling
The organ system related to the fall season is the Lung/Large Intestine. Among its many functions, the Lung is responsible for providing proper moisture to the skin and, through its paired partner the Large Intestine, the hair. Dry hair and/or skin are signs of Lung/Large Intestine function imbalance. Providing proper moisture balance to the Lung/Large Intestine system is very important and you will see a recipe below which aids in that purpose. Skin problems are always associated with the function of Lung energy, as the skin is its “outer” representative. The skin as we are taught, is the largest organ of the body and is “our protective shield” to the influences of the environment.
The Lungs connect our “inside” with our “outside” through the nose, its sense organ. Part of the Lung’s function, therefore, is protective as it filters the air we breathe. The Lung is very sensitive to changes in temperature, dampness, dryness and wind. The Lung’s awareness of changes in the environment alerts us to conditions that can be detrimental so we can protect ourselves, and conditions that are supportive so we can increase our use of them. During the Fall season we look forward to many pleasant days with low humidity and comfortable temperatures, especially in early Fall. On these days, filling the lungs fully with fresh air, will certainly assist the function of the Lung/Large Intestine system and our entire body.
A small note about sleep. We are all aware of the necessity of a good night’s sleep to create and maintain good health. Yet, many people awaken around 3 a.m. and cannot return to sleep until around 5 a.m. This is the time that is “ruled” by the Lung according to the flow of meridian energy (3 a.m. to 5 a.m.) The Large Intestine’s time is from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Two natural sleep aids are Snow fungus and lotus seeds. There is a lovely recipe below for Snow fungus and Pear Soup that along with its other benefits is very relaxing to eat.
Here is a common Chinese recipe to use Lotus Seeds as a natural sleep aid: place about 10 seeds in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, reducing the liquid to 1 cup. Let cool to a drinkable temperature and sip slowly. Honey or rock sugar may be added for a sweeter taste.
Some Foods That Harmonize With Autumn
Almonds, Apples, Apricot, Bamboo Shoots, Bananas, Barley, Basil, Bai Mu Er – aka White Fungus, Cauliflower, Chestnuts, Chicken Egg, Chickweed, Cilantro, Coriander, Cow’s Milk, Crab apple, Daikon radish, Eggplant, Fennel bulb, Garlic, Ginger, Job’s Tears (Chinese Barley), Kohlrabi, Kumquat, Lily Bulb, Lotus Root, Lotus seeds, Mustard – leaf and seeds, Onions – Green, Yellow, Red, Shallots, Parsnip, Peanuts, Pears, Peppermint, Persimmon, Pine Nut, Radish, Sesame, Spinach, Strawberry, Walnut, Water Chestnut, White turnips.
Butternut Squash Soup with Bengali Spices
2 tsp salt
¼ cup grapeseed oil
1 medium whole bay leaf
1 tsp panch phoran (This is a combination of equal amounts of fenugreek, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds and cumin)*
½ tsp crushed red pepper (mildly hot should be fine)
1-1/2 cups white onion
1-1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 TB ground coriander
1 TB freshly grated ginger
4 cups cold water
1 TB ground garam masala
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
4 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into large pieces
1 small peeled sweet potato (orange flesh) – no more than approximately 1 cup uncooked.
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas – drained
4-6 cups water or mild broth
Cilantro leaves for garnish
Small pitcher of coconut milk – about ½ ounce per person.
*This blend is available at Indian and Asian markets. Should it not be available, your local grocer most likely carries fennel seeds, cumin and mustard seeds. Even if the nigella seeds and fenugreek are not available to you, at least mix together the other 3 spices in equal portions. As you can see, you need very little for this recipe, but you might enjoy experimenting with these spices this Fall.
First gather all of your measured spices into small, individual containers (I have been told that cupcake papers work well for this)
Peel the squash and sweet potato, cut into large chunks and set aside
Chop the onion and set aside
Now: Sprinkle 1 tsp salt on the base of a 5 qt sauté pan and heat over medium heat
Add the oil, bay leaf, panch phoran and crushed pepper: stir the spices into the oil which is spread across the bottom of the sauté pan and heat, then
Add chopped onion: stir the onion into the spiced oil so that the onion is completely coated. Let the onion sauté, stirring regularly, not allowing it to burn, but allowing it to turn golden, pretty much throughout.
Next: Add the ground turmeric, cumin and coriander, salt, ginger and combine into the onions thoroughly. Once combined, add the 4 cups of cold water and stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil. Add the garam masala and fennel seeds and stir well and turn down the heat to a simmer.
Add the butternut squash, sweet potato and chick peas. Bring it back to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer slowly. Cover the sauté pan allowing a small space for steam to escape.
Simmer until the squash is completely cooked. Turn off the heat and let it cool down.
Blend in a blender (or use hand blender) in small batches, until entirely pureed. Return to sauté pan.
Turn heat to low, add water or mild broth to create a “bisque-like” consistency or consistency that you prefer. When heated through:
Garnish each bowl with cilantro leaves, serve with coconut milk on the side for those who like to add it.
This soup is flavorful and mildly spicy. The pungent flavor is the keynote flavor for the Autumn season and is said to strengthen the Lung function. The pungent/spicy flavor has an upward and outward movement which can help regulate the inward/downward movement of the season. Among other things, pungent flavors aid circulation. Sweet potatoes/yams are excellent for maintaining metabolic function.
Snow Fungus and Pear Soup
1 piece of dried snow fungus
1 qt water
12 red dates
Break 1 piece of snow fungus in ½. Place it in a bowl of warm water. It will immediately soften. With a small knife or pair of scissors, carefully remove the hard “orange” core on the bottom of the snow fungus. Discard the water. Break the snow fungus up in small pieces and rinse and drain several times in warm water. When done, the snow fungus will be white and flowery.
In a 2 or 3 qt pot, place the water and ½ the snow fungus. Bring to a boil and let simmer while you cut the pear into pieces – 1” long by ½” wide works very well, some people prefer just cutting in quarters. (Remember to remove the seeds.) Add to the pot.
Rinse the red dates well and add them to the pot along with some rock sugar to taste.
Simmer for at least ½ an hour and possibly up to 3 hours (adding water as necessary).
The longer the snow fungus is cooked, the softer it gets, some people like it mushy and some a little crunchy. It’s personal preference. How sweet to make it is also personal preference. The “soup” will be thickened by the snow fungus. Although you want enough fluid for it to be a soup, this is a healthy dessert soup and does not require lots of liquid, just enough to form a sauce around the fungus, pears and dates.
Pears nourish the Lungs and Large Intestine and are moisturizers for them. Cooked together with some rock sugar they are very effective in breaking up phlegm. Snow fungus (available at Asian markets) is considered excellent for the skin and can aid in sleeplessness. Many people add cooked snow fungus to many soups, stews and stir fry vegetable dishes throughout the year.
Green Onion Crepes
½ cup soy milk – plain unsweetened organic
½ cup water
½ tsp salt
2 TB grapeseed oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup scallions cut into very thin rings using whites and light green part only
Grapeseed oil for cooking.
¼ cup measuring spoon and tablespoon.
Parchment paper cut to double the size of a plate and folded in half
¼ cup cilantro leaves chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
½ cup dipping sauce
¼ cup toasted sesame oil
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
¼ cup chili sauce
Lemon juice that is lightly salted and lightly diluted.
In a large bowl (about 2-3 qt size) place eggs, soy milk, water, salt and oil. Stir together until blended, but not frothy. Overbeating will only make your crepes “tough” in texture.
Add in the flour slowly so that it can be combined without lumps and without overbeating.
Then add in the chopped green onions. (the upper dark parts are too tough – use only tender parts) and stir lightly so that the green onion is evenly distributed.
Using a crepe pan or 7-8 inch sauté pan, coat it well with grapeseed oil and heat the oil. Medium heat. . never high. Optimally, you want a pan that is light enough for you to lift and swirl the batter. Pour excess oil into a small cup. You do not want too much oil or too little oil in the pan. Too much would look “saucy” and too little would be no excess at all.
- When your oil is hot, but not smoking, pour ¼ cup of your batter into your pan – if the pan is 8” add an extra tablespoon of batter. If your pan is too heavy to lift and swirl, then use the back of a metal ladle to quickly swirl the batter around the bottom of the pan taking care not to press the batter into the pan as that will cause it to stick.
- After about 1 minute lightly shake your pan, the crepe should move slightly. If not, it probably has not cooked long enough. You can check its progress by gently lifting a side with a spatula /flipper and peeking underneath.
- When it is completely set, carefully slide your spatula/flipper underneath the crepe and flip it over. The top side will now either be slightly golden in places or completely pale. If completely pale, you will flip it again after the side now on the pan has cooked. After about 1-2 minutes, flip your crepe again. If the original bottom was pale. Let is sit over the heat another minute or two so it gets a little golden. The top should be lightly golden as well.
- When your crepe is lightly golden on each side, place on the plate and cover with the parchment paper. Place the next crepe on the parchment paper, and cover with the folded part, continue until all the crepes are done and “sandwiched” between the parchment paper.
Repeat 1 through 4 until you have used all the batter. This recipe will make about 6-7 crepes. The crepes can now be placed on a serving platter, you can leave them flat or roll them gently and garnish the plate.
Autumn Tea Suggestion: Barley Water: This is a simple, delicious drink that can be made a day ahead. It is excellent for reducing heat, can relieve a dry, tickling cough, it is said to relieve both constipation or diarrhea and is an anti-inflammatory. Preparation: Place 2 TB Pearl Barley into 1 qt (4 cups) of water. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add honey to taste. As a variation, add vanilla bean as it cooks or a few drops of pure vanilla extract.
Eat Seasonal, Buy Local, Think Global!
Wishing you good health! Remember to smile from the heart at all things.
The information in this article is based on the theories and principles of Chinese Medicine/Five Element Theory. Ellasara, a practitioner of Wu Ming Qigong, has been studying with Master and Dr. Nan Lu for many years and has participated in special classes through TCM World Foundation and the Tao of Healing in New York City. For comments, questions, consultations, firstname.lastname@example.org