The Autumn/Fall Season
By Ellasara Kling
The Autumn/Fall season is perfectly designed for letting go. Letting go of the things we have allowed to reside within us that cause irritation/disruption/sadness/disharmony of all sorts whether large or small. Like the leaves that are now preparing to leave the trees, we can prepare to release what we have clung to that no longer serves us, and by doing so, gain greater clarity, detachment, understanding, rectitude, — essentially balance and harmony. How do we know what no longer serves us? Read on in this month’s health topic for some ideas on this issue.
Autumn/Fall is Lung Season
The organ system for this season is the Lung/Large Intestine. Among its many other functions, we are most familiar with the idea that the Lungs are in charge of the flow of air in and out of our bodies. They connect our “insides” with our “outside” through the nose, its sense organ. The Lung is literally the highest placed organ in the torso and directs the qi it receives downward to the other organs. It is therefore known as the administrator of the organ system. The Lung is known as a “delicate” organ and is, indeed, very sensitive to changes in hot, cold, dryness, dampness, and wind. The Lung is responsible for providing proper moisture to the skin and similarly through its paired partner, the Large Intestine, dry hair is a sign of Lung/Large Intestine imbalance. Skin problems are always associated with the function of Lung energy, as the skin is its “outer” representative. It also breathes, is delicate and it protects our “insides” from the outside. Grief and sadness are the emotions associated with the Lung and crying is its “sound”. An attitude of rectification (setting “things” in balance) can counter balance Lung sadness, which is important as too much sadness can dissipate qi.
The Autumn (Lung Season) is also known for the beginning of cold/flu season. It is most important to take care of our health by getting the proper rest, exercise (qigong/taiji/meditation/yoga practice is vital), along with eating for our health and energy. On those wonderful clear Fall days, be sure to get lots of fresh air and fill and empty the Lungs completely with long, deep breaths and enjoy the sensation of air going in and out of the lungs and the inhalation and exhalation of your skin as well. The beginning of Autumn is a wonderful opportunity – ENJOY!
Eat Seasonal, Buy Local, Think Global!
Some Foods That Harmonize With Autumn
Apples, Apricot, Bamboo Shoots, Barley, Basil, Bai Mu Er – aka White Fungus, Cauliflower, Chicken Egg, Chickweed, Cilantro, Coriander, Cow’s Milk, 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, Spinach, Strawberry, Walnut, Water Chestnut,
This is a light satisfying soup that is relatively quick to make and that nourishes the Lung and Large Intestine energies.
Spinach Soup w/Snow Fungus
2 bunches of fresh spinach ½ cup of Snow fungus 2 beaten eggs 1-1/2 qt light vegetable broth or chicken broth 2 thin slices of ginger 1 TB soy sauce ½ tsp salt 1 tsp black pepper 4 oz tofu – cut in ½” cubes 2 TB toasted sesame oil
Carefully and thoroughly clean the spinach, remove the stems and cut leaves into 2” pieces
Soak the Snow fungus in hot water until softened and rinse a few times.
Cut into small pieces removing the “stem”.
Bring the broth to a simmer; add the snow fungus, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper – bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes, add the spinach, stir simmer until spinach begins to wilt
Pour in the eggs slowly in a steady stream stirring the soup gently in one direction only
Add the tofu and heat through.
Serve and sprinkle a little sesame oil on top of each bowl.
A Fall Congee:
Congee is especially good for the elderly, people who are ill or recovering from illness, or people suffering from loss of appetite, and makes a healthy, breakfast as well.
Make rice congee* w/ ginger, when 90% complete, add scallion whites with a bit of the green, when ready to serve add chopped cilantro and diced pressed, black tofu (seasoned with Five Spice Powder and Soy Sauce).
* New to congee a/k/a rice porridge? Here is a basic recipe: 1 cup of rice to 9 cups of water. Wash the rice so that the water runs clear, add fresh water to a large, heavy bottomed soup pot, bring water w/rice to a boil, reduce heat, cover with the lid slightly tilted to let some steam out and stirring occasionally (to make certain the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom).
Cook slowly for about 1-1/4 hours until the rice is creamy. You can add more water if necessary or if you want it thinner.
You can add almost anything to congee to create the flavor you are looking for. There are innumerable variations, so use your own imagination. It is best to keep the taste light, but as above, it can be very flavorful. Serving congee with small bowls of “added ingredients” gives family/guests the opportunity to flavor it their way to their own taste.
As mentioned in other articles, every culture has foods that coincide with the flow of nature. Here are two lively Autumn examples from the Middle Eastern area of the world.
They each are aromatic/pungent flavored dishes that use many spices you may already know with a familiar vegetable in, perhaps, a different way.
Middle Eastern Style Cauliflower
Ingredients1 large head cauliflower 1-2 tablespoon grapeseed oil Enough boiling water to finish the quantity of rice you are using. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1/2 teaspoon curry powder 2 cloves finely minced garlic, chopped 1 teaspoon salt White rice that is ¾ cooked water drained.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Break the cauliflower into large florets and place on a baking sheet
Lightly brush the florets with the oil and bake until they just begin to brown, remove from the oven.
While the cauliflower is baking, place all the spices in a saucepan/wok and heat through – being careful not to burn the spices. Then add the boiling water stir and add the partially cooked rice. Finish cooking the rice. Serve by placing the fragrant/spiced rice on a platter and then putting the baked cauliflower on top.
The rice carries the fragrant spices and the roasted cauliflower adds a sweet mellowness.
MOROCCAN STYLE PARSNIPS
Ingredients2 cups water 2 pounds parsnips, washed, peeled and cut into triangular type slices 5 tablespoons grapeseed oil 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 3 cloves garlic, finely minced 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves 1 TB lemon juice 1 TB chopped cilantro or flat parsley
Steam the parsnips until tender, but still strong. Set the parsnips aside separating them from the steaming liquid which you will save.
Heat the grapeseed oil in a wok/heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat till it shimmers. Then, reduce the heat and add the spices. .
Lightly toast the spices, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Add a 1/2 cup of the parsnip water and simmer covered for 15 minutes not allowing the water to completely evaporate – -add more parsnip water if necessary.
Stir in the parsnips, covering them with the spice/water mixture and heat through for a few minutes.
Place on a platter, sprinkle with the lemon juice and cilantro/parsley.
*Ginger tea: So many variations on Ginger Tea. . . .So useful on a daily basis and pleasant to drink. And here’s some of the reasons for its ongoing popularity: Ginger tea has been used for literally thousands of years in Asian cultures as a medicinal as well as a pleasant, relaxing and invigorating warm drink. Ginger is known to calm the stomach, reduce inflammation (as in arthritis and ulcerative colitis), relieve headaches, stuffed up sinuses and other cold/flu symptoms, reduce menstrual cramps, alleviate nausea, increase circulation, and much, much more. It is almost a panacea that also has brilliant culinary benefits.
Ginger tea can be as simple as chopping fresh ginger (about 1 tsp. per 6 oz cup) and placing it in a pot with cold water, bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer for a couple of minutes. Pour into your cup and sip. . . add honey or other sweetener, if desired.
OR: Ginger tea can be made: 1” of chopped ginger, the whites only of 4-5 scallions (depending on size) and the dried rind of one tangerine in a quart of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 4-5 minutes (longer and it begins to get bitter), remove the “ingredients” and add sweetener – or not – and sip slowly. This common recipe is terrific for “knocking out” the symptoms of a cold/flu; warming up from a chilly day, or if you have become drenched, as I just did in a sudden summer rain storm.
OR: Ginger tea can be made with red dates, peppermint, almonds, or other ingredients if you want to also “target” other experiences you would like to enhance or balance out. The variations are multitudinous. Experiment and enjoy!
Health Topic Letting Go: A path to health and vitality. Whether we live for five more minutes for 500 more years, I think we would all agree that we want that “time” to be healthy and filled with vibrant energy. Put another way, we want to “vibrate” in accord with the energy of Life moment-to-moment-to-moment, for all the moments we have in this consciousness. What prevents us from having that experience? The things we hold onto and use to “jam up” our energy and thereby cause energy stagnation. Where there is vibrancy, there is flow. Where there is stagnation, there is “dullness” as our rate of vibration in that area slows down.
Of course, we now say, how do I flow more, how do I let go of the habits, thoughts, feelings, beliefs that are hindering my sense of aliveness? How do I let go of these things? How do we decide what to “let go” of? One way to get a clearer look at these things is to consider what is out of balance in our body. Use our physicality as a mirror for our consciousness. Use Five Element Theory to understand what that physicality is telling us is stuck in our mind, emotions, beliefs and use the principles of Five Element Theory to understand how to create the change that brings us that greater vibrancy, harmony and balance. Ask yourself, for example, if Lung/Large Intestine/Fall have the emotion of grief/sadness, what would balance out the sadness I hold onto and carry about? How and where is that manifesting in me? What do Five Element theory and the principles of Chinese medicine suggest for creating harmony and balance? How do I apply that to my life?
Another method might be to ask ourselves what do we believe we cannot live without? A friend wrote me today that there was a time that she didn’t think she could “go without” cheese, even though it created dampness in her and that created congestion. However, now that she has done so, that actually small change in her diet is part of the greater health she is experiencing. I suggest we challenge ourselves and pick something we think we cannot live without. It doesn’t have to be the BIG thing, start small, especially if this kind of challenge is new to you. Experience letting go of “it”. Perhaps, for some people it would be for one day, for others much longer. It doesn’t have to be giving up a food. It could be including something in. For example, including in new foods that carry the messages of benefits for the areas you want to strengthen. Including in seasonal foods from a local market. Or, it could be changing a way of relating to others, to oneself. Such as finding the time in your busy day to truly listen to the concerns of those around you. To let go of “busyness”. It could be letting go of staying indoors instead of finding a pretty place to walk outside. The possibilities are endless. In choosing to increase our vibrancy our intention will lead us naturally to those things that will work best for each of us. In these ways, some very small and others not so tiny, we increase our vibrancy, balance and harmony. In doing so, we increase the quality of our days here and isn’t that ultimately what we often really want when we say we want longevity? The ability to have the time to create an harmonious/balanced/flowing/vibrant/healthy life? Start now.
Wishing you good health! Remember to smile at all things.
[Following the threads of her personal tapestry, Ellasara, a long-time student of Master Nan Lu, weaves her life around the exploration and sharing of self-healing through a variety of modalities, primarily focusing on food, common herbal plants, Qigong Meridian Therapy and Qigong for Women’s Health. For comments, questions, consultations, email@example.com]