Autumn Tips – Spice it UP!

In Ayurveda, our spice cabinet is our medicine cabinet.  Eating food cooked with seasonal spices helps to balance the elements in our body and deliver a powerful punch of nature’s medicine.  In autumn, it is often the elements of ether and air (vata) that are increased.  If they are not balanced with diet and lifestyle choices then our tissues can become cold, rough and dry.  Knowing how to use nature’s medicine cabinet in the whole food form of spices to keep one’s body in balance is an ART.  

Where do you start?  Follow your nose! 

My nose tells me what my body wants and needs.  Granted, I have spent years doing daily breathing practices, the neti pot and nasya to heal my nasal passages, so at this point my nose is a fine-tuned instrument that guides my self-healing process.  I grew up completely unable to breathe through my nose as I was allergic to a long list of foods that are prevalent in the SAD (Standard American Diet).  But after years of practicing Ayurvedic principles for the purpose of creating my own health, with a heavy focus on digestion and detoxification, I have arrived in my adulthood without allergies and able to breathe fully through my nose.  Being able to breathe easily through the nose has a plethora of health benefits, but that is for another day. 

Right now, the topic is;

How to balance one’s body in Autumn with food.

Spice it UP!!!

What would autumn be without Cinnamon? Warm baked apples, squash and pumpkins become so healthy and delicious with Ceylon Cinnamon.  Ceylon Cinnamon (aka Sri Lankan Cinnamon) is the ONLY true Cinnamon.  In Ayurveda, we belief that a person is as old as their digestive system and it just so happens that one of the best ways to stimulate your digestive fire is by eating a baked apple with ghee and fresh grated cinnamon with breakfast (see recipe below). 

Ceylon Cinnamon is highly regarded as an anti-oxidant that supports healthy blood sugar levels.  It has a sweet and pungent taste and is warming to the digestive system. The Vedic texts say that Cinnamon destroys all deep cold in the body. Cinnamon is said to be useful for cold hands and feet as it increases circulation in the joint space.  Cinnamon increases circulation everywhere, especially in the lungs.  Cinnamon pairs very well two other POWERHOUSE spices; Ginger and Turmeric.

Homage to Ginger!  Ginger is known worldwide as a wide spectrum tonic and remedy.  Ginger’s benefits include improving digestion, circulation and immunity while reducing inflammation and nausea.  Ginger, when eaten fresh initially has a warming effect on digestion (rasa & virya) but the post digestive effect (vipak) is sweet. Fresh ginger breaks up congestion and burns ama (toxins).  If ginger is taken dried then it has a heating effect during the entire digestive process.  So, which one you choose depends on whether or not you are dealing with excess heat.  I add fresh ginger to teas, juices and pretty much any vegetable dish. See fresh ginger tea recipe below.

We can’t mention powerhouse spices without mentioning Turmeric.  Turmeric is said to invigorate and move the blood as well as stimulate blood formation. Turmeric is the sun in a bottle. When you ingest turmeric, you bring the solar quality to your blood. A small dose is said to support liver and blood cleansing. Turmeric also has anti-inflammatory properties.  Use it in broths, teas, curry dishes and to spice up vegetables. It is important to note that Turmeric is not absorbed well unless taken with a healthy oil (ghee or coconut oil are my favorites). For best results, cook the Turmeric into ghee before using. The Cork Cancer Research Centre's test results show that turmeric can kill gullet (throat) cancer cells in 24 hours.  India has one of the lowest rates of gullet (throat) cancer in the world.  Could it be due to their daily intake of Turmeric? 

Whichever spice you choose, remember to let your nose guide the way! 

Your nose knows!   

(I wonder if it is a coincidence that nose and knows sound exactly the same.  I don’t believe in coincidences)

Simple Autumn Spice Recipes;

Baked Apple with Cinnamon and Ghee

Half and core a whole apple (do not peel), put a little ghee and fresh grated Ceylon Cinnamon on top.  Bake for 20 minutes on 350 degrees.  This is a great way to kindle your digestive fire! Add some fresh grated Nutmeg for it’s calming, soothing and warming qualities. Add some fresh ground Cardamom for helping to break up congestion.  Cardamom is Ayurveda’s #1 anti-mucus spice.

Ginger-Turmeric Tea

1 qt. of purified water
15 ¼-inch slices of fresh ginger root
1 ½ tsp. of dried turmeric powder

A pinch fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp. of raw honey added to each cup you drink (optional)

Place the turmeric, ginger and water together in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and take out the ginger chunks. Add in some ghee or coconut oil while the liquid is still hot to make the Turmeric more absorbable. Then let it cool before adding the raw honey. The tea will last for up to four days stored in the refrigerator. It is best to drink the tea hot or at room temperature. (Use the stove, not microwave, to reheat.)

Some other fabulous Autumn Spices are;

·  Cumin (digestive support)
· Rosemary (uplifting and warming)
· Asafetida/Hing (grounding digestive)
· Nutmeg (warming bitter with a sedative effect)
· Cardamom (carminative/reduces gas and anti-mucus)
· Saffron (very special and very sattvic/pure spice with a bright orange color indicating that it has loads of carotenoids and antioxidants)

Susan Bass is a NAMA Ayurvedic Practitioner and NAMA Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist in Portland, OR works with people who want to support and heal their bodies naturally; drawing on the knowledge of the oldest continually practiced health care system in the world, Ayurveda.

What is Vata? Vata is the principle of movement and change, often described as “wind”.  Vata is the element of ether and air in the body.  Ether has a spacey quality and air has movement. 

What is Ayurveda? Ayurveda is the oldest continuously practiced health care system in the world. It originated in India and comes from The Vedic Texts.