To choose the healthiest vegetables for fall, divide the season into two parts. Early fall represents the Indian summer with moderately warm days. Late fall represents the colder part of the season that is slowly welcoming winter.
Fall is definitely a very romantic season. And yet, it is a crucial one because it’s associated with Vata (air and ether elements), the leader of all Ayurvedic doshas. Vata dosha has the potential to bring a good number of diseases.
The fall is also connected with Pitta (fire element). After a warm summer, our body and environment have accumulated Pitta. If you observe nature, you will see the red, yellow and orange colors of Pitta everywhere. And as in nature, if a big wind blows on a fire, it might turn into a forest fire. That is why some of us may get inflammation diseases in the beginning of fall season: Vata blows on the Pitta stored in the body and ignites a blowpipe. In order to subside this fire element within, it is advised to start the season with a purification and a more Pitta alleviating diet with sweet, light, bitter and slightly cold food items. In the meantime, keep Vata dosha in balance.
The first thing to do is to discuss with local farmers or grocers about what is growing in your area naturally during the season. It is very important to know what is available because those are the items you would need to cook to remain healthy. Mother nature always provides what is most beneficial according to the environment and the season.
Have a closer look at the delicious, healthiest vegetables for fall according to Ayurveda.
During early fall, focus on subsiding Pitta by adding more cooked green vegetables to your diet. The following greens can be found in most continental climate countries: broccoli, courgettes, leeks, endive, brussels sprout, Swiss chard, kale, celery, fennel, bok choy, lettuces, watercress and green beans. As green vegetables tend to increase Vata, make sure to cook them so they will be more easily digested. Let go of raw foods during the entire fall season and add good quality oils (olive, coconut, sunflower) and, even better, some home-made ghee.
It is also essential to add some mild spices and fresh herbs such as coriander (seeds and leaves), cumin, thyme, oregano, and fennel seeds. They will keep your digestive fire healthy and yet they are less pungent spices that would keep an emotional Pitta outbreak at bay. All green leafy veggies are also full of water, which is cooling for pitta, and in the meantime hydrating for Vata which tends to be dry.
If your Vata is already out of balance, you can apply the late fall diet advice.
As the fall season becomes colder, slowly switch to a completely Vata balancing diet with sweet, salty, sour and easy to digest cooked foods. At this stage of the season, you may suffer from symptoms like dry skin, stiffness in the joints, constipation, bloating and anxiety. This diet will help Agni (digestive fire) remain healthy and avoid many of these typical ailments.
The qualities of Vata are: cold, dry, light, subtle, moving, and irregular. Mother nature offers great foods to counterbalance those characteristics, thanks to root vegetables which are mostly sweet, heavy and grounding. Here is a short list of root vegetables: carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, beetroots, parsnips, turnips, all the winter squash varieties, black and red radishes, rutabagas and celeriac.
They are all delicious in soups. According to Ayurveda, soups are nutritious and easy to digest at the same time, which makes them perfect for Vata season. Soups are great for all the doshas and increase the production of Ojas (our vitality force). They are excellent dipana, helping to enhance the digestive fire. They are very good for irregular appetites and they flush out ama (toxins).
Many root vegetables are yellow, orange and red in color. According to the ‘law of similarity’, this makes them great in increasing the fire element. As the season gets much colder, it’s wise to bring more heat within.
During fall, there is a wide range of vegetables available. They are best cooked in soups, roasted, sautéed, or steamed with mild spices, fresh herbs, oils or ghee. Vata season brings more fatigue and nervousness to the system, so make sure to choose local and organic veggies for better quality Prana (life force) and more Sattva (food items that promote clarity and light in the mind).
Fall vegetables include: cauliflower, cabbage, onions, garlic, artichoke, avocado, ginger, mushrooms, and eggplant. Onion, garlic, and ginger are also great veggies, available all-year-round to warm up the body quickly and boost the digestive system.
When ripe, pumpkins are good for Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. They are highly nutritious and stimulate agni at the same time. They also have a beneficial effect on blood tissue (rakta dhatu) and are excellent for Apana Vata (the sub-dosha in charge of excreting movement in the big intestine). They also help in cases of hemorrhoids. According to the “law of similarity” (samana), pumpkins are good for the brain and enhance comprehension. They clean the bladder, urethra and the kidneys and help regenerate cellular tissues.
Excellent in pacifying Vata and Kapha, carrots also have a tendency to increase Pitta. They will help improve skin complexion, which tends to turn grey during Vata season. Carrots are great diuretics. It is not always advisable for pregnant women to consume them though. Please refer to your health care provider to discuss your dietary needs if you are pregnant.
Ayurveda is not a fan of mushrooms and considers them to imbalance all three doshas. With an excess of a watery element called kleda, they have a tendency to increase Kapha in different ways. However, whenever grown in really good conditions, mushrooms can help the muscle tissues to be strong and can be a good replacement for meat.
Spinach is very good for decreasing Pitta and healing the blood tissue (rakta), however spinach increases Vata and Kapha. During cold weather, it is important to cook spinach and use oil before consuming to counterbalance its effects in its raw form. This vegetable is not compatible with dairy products (avoid cooking with milk and butter), otherwise it might create indigestion. When agni is strong enough, spinach is good to fight constipation accompanied with bowel obstruction.
Sweet potatoes are excellent for Vata and Pitta. They produce a good quality of Kapha, especially for the sub-dosha Avalambaka Kapha located in the lung and heart area. Sweet potatoes can be used to stop diarrhea.
Garlic contains five out of the six tastes, according to Ayurveda wisdom. Garlic is good to fight most cases of Vata blockages and symptoms such as constipation, gas, and abdominal pains. It’s an excellent ally during fall season because it stimulates agni well. It also kills intestinal worms.
Onions alleviate Vata and increase Pitta and Kapha. Onions are very good for stimulating the intellect and also cleaning the reproductive system.
Mother Earth is offering delicious vegetables in the fall that may be cooked in many different ways. Just remember to keep your Vata and Pitta in balance by using some of the tips in this article. Happy fall feasting!
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