As we transition from Fall to Winter our bodies naturally start gearing-up for the time to draw inward and gather strength for the cold season ahead. Even in Austin, TX, or at least we can pretend can’t we? According to Ayurveda, it’s the time of year to start incorporating rich sources of protein, grains, and hearty vegetables.
Ayurveda is India’s ancient health system that focuses on balancing the body and mind through diet, herbs, lifestyle, and yoga.
So let’s take a look at what we’re growing out there in our gardens. Deep-dark-nutrient rich leafy greens, peas, and root veggies like sweet potatoes. All things that naturally grow during this time help our bodies sustain through the corresponding season and climate.
The qualities of winter are cold and dry.
Yes, it does rain during winter, but in general it has a drier quality when we add in frost and wind. Balancing foods are ones that will warm us, ground us and provide a healthy dose of nourishing fats and proteins.
Fats are fabulously soothing to the nervous system. When I spent 2 years living at a yoga community I was practicing a number of Ayurvedic remedies. During this time I learned about the different qualities of oils and their effects on the body.
Here’s a great remedy I learned after going through a bout restless sleeping. Rub sesame oil on the bottoms of your feet and/or your forehead. Trust me, it really works! Sesame oil has a warming quality that soothes the deeper nerves.
In Ayurveda the bottoms of the feet are thought of as the body’s internal pharmacy and entrance into the body. As for the forehead, this will soothe mental activity and nerves associated with the head.
Another thought is to drizzle some olive oil on your wintry meals.
By ingesting the oil we are nourishing the internal tissues, which is an important part to staying healthy during the harsher winter season.
When looking at what to do with all those fabulous winter roots and hearty greens there’s no need to be daunted.
Bake ‘em. Bake ‘em all; potatoes, beets, carrots, celery root, burdock root, radish, turnip, rutabaga, cauliflower, broccoli, herbs, even greens. Toss them in a baking dish, don’t over crowd, give them space to breathe as this will help create a caramelized flavor.
To start, toss them with salt, pepper and olive oil. Bake at high-ish heat, 400 degrees, until looking good and toasty and easily pierce-able with a knife. Serve with a hearty grain if you wish. Maybe add a protein rich piece of meat or some well-cooked legumes.
You’ve got a winter meal that will help calm and ground even the most strung-out of us.
Paying attention to what’s growing and in each season gives us insight into the effect it can have on our bodies. It’s really an experiential concept, so give it a shot and see how you feel.