Monthly Archive: October 2011

Listen to Nature When it Comes to Food

I was lucky to be up at my family’s cottage in Muskoka over the Thanksgiving weekend.  The temperature during the day felt more like summer, but the nights and mornings were cool. The leaves didn’t lie about what season it was, and their bright orange, red and yellow hues lit up the sky. The views were spectacular and the colours reminded me that with a change of season, comes a change of diet. It was time to limit those cold and raw salads that we devour in the summer, and include more cooked and warming foods that the fall harvest has to offer. If we listen to nature and eat foods that have the colour of the changing leaves, then our bodies will be better equipped to handle the cold and dark days of winter. Pumpkins and squash are the perfect vegetables to incorporate into our diets at this time of year to boost immunity and prepare our bodies for the drop in temperature. As added bonuses, they are also in season and grown locally!

According to Chinese medicine, the lungs and large intestine are the organs most active in the fall. Our lungs are very sensitive to changes in temperature, and the wind and cold. They control our defensive energy (Wei-Qi) that keeps us from getting sick. It is important to use this time to boost immunity to prevent colds, the flu and sore throats. Our intestines also play a very important role in immunity. They act as a barrier against invading pathogens, and approximately 70–80% of our immune system is found in the intestines.

When the temperature is dropping, it is best to limit cold and raw foods as they can increase dampness and phlegm in the body. Cold and raw foods consumed in the fall and winter tax the digestive system. Our body can handle these foods much better in the warmth of the spring and summer. It is best to eat lightly steamed vegetables or cooked food in the fall and winter. Foods such as garlic, onions and ginger support lung function and help to break down phlegm and mucous in the respiratory system.  Dark green and orange vegetables protect the lungs and mucous membranes of the body and boost immunity because they contain beta-carotene. Beta-carotene boosts the defensive energy of the body, protecting us from the invading bacteria and viruses that make us sick.

I made this soup after the Thanksgiving weekend when my body was craving warming and nourishing food. I used turkey broth that I made from the weekend leftovers. You can substitute coconut milk for the broth and add in spices such as turmeric, cumin, curry powder and/or garam masala to spice it up if you like. This time I decided to keep it simple and not add any extra spices as the turkey broth I prepared had enough flavour. This recipe is quick and easy, and very powerful in preventing colds and flus. Our bodies have an easy time digesting this soup, and the garlic and onions further help to break down any phlegm or mucous in the body. Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium to large sized butternut squash

1 small head of garlic

2 small to medium sized cooking onions

½–1 cup of organic vegetable stock, turkey broth or chicken broth

Spices such as sea salt, turmeric, cumin, curry powder and/or garam masala (optional, to taste)

  • Wash the squash, cut in half lengthwise and place face down on a cookie sheet coated with a small amount of olive oil.
  • Peel off the excess skin from the garlic, leaving enough to surround the whole head and keep the cloves together. Chop off the top of the head of garlic so that there is an opening for each clove. This will make it easier to squeeze the garlic out once it is roasted. Wrap the head of garlic in aluminum foil with a little bit of olive oil, sea salt and pepper sprinkled on top for added taste. Make sure you seal the foil completely. Place garlic bundle on cookie sheet with the squash.
  • Peel the onions, chop in quarters and place on the cookie sheet with the other ingredients.
  • Roast in a preheated oven, uncovered, at 365°C for approximately 30–35 minutes (until the squash is nice and soft). You may need to cook the squash a bit longer than the onions and garlic.
  • Remove from oven, let all ingredients cool, and then add to a food processor. Blend while adding in broth of choice or coconut milk (spices optional). Add enough fluid to your desired consistency of soup. I like mine a bit thicker, so I don’t add too much broth.

Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. North Atlantic Books, 1993.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed healthcare practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Vote for Good Health

Today is voting day in Ontario. With one small “X”, you can exercise your power in shaping your city and your province. Yes, it can be a bit of a hassle: doing your research, following the debates and then waiting in line to mark that box. But why would you give up this opportunity to put your two cents in? Voting is free and a great reminder that we live in such a great land of choice and opportunity.

Have you been voting for good health lately? That’s right, you CAN vote for good health with every thought and action you make. Or are you just waiting for good health to come to you? Sorry, but I have bad news: it won’t come knocking at your door. You have to get out there and seek it.

“How,” you may be asking, “do I vote for good health?” It starts right when you wake up. You decide whether or not this is going to be a good day. I know, I know, today you have that presentation at work, your exam at school or that deadline to reach. You are exhausted and you didn’t sleep well last night. It may seem like the worst day to you, but remember: you have control over how you think about it. If you wake up and visualize yourself blowing everyone away at the board meeting, then you most likely will. If you picture yourself failing miserably, well, you just might, or you might worry all day leading up to it, which is a terrible waste of energy and gets you nowhere.

The next vote you make is when you open up the refrigerator or the cupboard. What is going to be your first meal of the day, the fuel for your body and mind? Is it going to be that sugary cereal or that donut? Or, did you get up a little earlier to cook those steel cut oats?

Are you going to give your body and mind the nutrients they need to be focused, calm and energized throughout the day? Or are you going to stop by McFoodies or the coffee shop on your way to work to get a short-term boost from your coffee and treat?

Do you set your alarm for the last second possible so that you have to dash out the door and grab whatever you can on the way to work? Or, are you going to get up that extra 30–60 minutes early to meditate, run, or get some yoga in to awaken your body and soul, followed by a nourishing meal?

And that is only your morning! What choices are you going to make at the grocery store? At the restaurant? After work when you are feeling exhausted, but know you should go to the gym? When it is getting close to bedtime but your favourite movie is on at 11 pm?

The choice is up to you…but the consequences can be more serious than we can imagine in that moment. Health is in your grasp, but you have to get out there and vote for it every single day!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed healthcare practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.