Be Light and Healthy

Harnessing Autumn’s Energy

Posted on: October 24, 2010

“Did you ever stop to taste a carrot?  Not just eat it, but taste it?  You can’t taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie.”  Astrid Alauda

In the Northeast we’re enjoying the beauty of autumn.  The harvest is ending, and there’s a chill in the air.  Though I love autumn I used to get anxious at this time of year because the holidays were coming, and I knew there would be lots of opportunities to overeat.  Inevitably, I would succumb to temptation and promise myself that I would dive into the new year eating healthy and exercising, which never lasted for long.  When I wasn’t able to live up to my new year’s resolutions, I would end up depressed and sad.  

I now realize that autumn is a great time of year to try incorporating some healthy new habits into your life.  As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, it’s an opportune time to turn inward and become present in your body.  Eating should be a natural process, but instead we are guided by “experts’” recommendations and spend time and energy analyzing and judging what we should eat.  Have you ever considered how truly amazing your body is?  Without even thinking about it your blood pumps, your heart beats, you breathe in addition to many other processes.  Doesn’t it make sense that your body is constantly trying to tell you what it needs?  Unfortunately, most of us are resisting the fact that we’re natural beings and are out of touch with our bodies.  Tuning into nature’s rhythms and harnessing the seasonal energy can facilitate getting in touch with your body and transitioning to a healthier lifestyle.  It’s a beautiful time of year to go for a walk even if it’s just a 5 minute walk.  The brisk autumn air can be invigorating. 

One way to harness the energy of the season is by eating vegetables harvested in the autumn.  In addition to satisfying your cravings for sweets, sweet vegetables help to maintain blood sugar levels and break down animal foods.  Many sweet vegetables are also root vegetables, which transfer a grounding energy when ingested.  Grounding energy provides stamina and endurance.     

Some vegetables are sweet when cooked:  corn, carrots, onions, beets, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, and yams.  Then there are semi-sweet vegetables, which have a more subtle flavor:  turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas.  In addition there are vegetables that don’t taste sweet but have a similar effect:  red radishes, daikon radish, green cabbage, and burdock root. 

Many people typically add butter or sweeteners, such as brown sugar, maple syrup, marshmallow, or orange juice to some root vegetables.  Roasting these vegetables brings out the natural sweetness and alleviates the need for any added sweeteners.  I love to make a big batch of roasted vegetables on a chilly fall day.  The leftovers can be added to soups, salads, brown rice, a stir fry, or marinara sauce with or without pasta. 

Roasted Vegetables – Sweet, Warming, & Grounding!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small winter squash (peeled and cubed)
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 1 parsnip (chopped)
  • 1 rutabaga or turnip (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 bunch broccoli (separate florets from chopped stalks)
  • 1 sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 red onion (quartered)
  • 1 yellow onion (quartered)
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Notes: 

  • You can use any combination of vegetables.
  • Winter squash suggestions include acorn, buttercup, butternut, delicata, or kabocha.
  • Spices, olive oil, and vinegar will coat approximately 8-10 cups of vegetables. 

 Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 Degrees.
  2. Place the prepared vegetables in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the thyme, rosemary, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Toss with vegetables until they are coated. 
  4. Remove the broccoli florets and set aside. 
  5. Spread remaining vegetables evenly on a large rimmed baking pan. 
  6. Roast, stirring every 20 minutes, for approximately 50 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through and slightly browned.   Add broccoli florets 10 minutes before end of cooking time.   

I realize that some people shun starchy vegetables, which are complex carbohydrates, due to the glut of negative information disseminated to the public.  Complex carbohydrates are unprocessed, take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates, are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and provide sustainable energy.  I know at one time I would forego starchy vegetables due to the bad press; however, I also realized that I found myself craving and substituting simple carbohydrates in the form of cookies, muffins, and cakes.  My body was not happy that I was restricting a certain type of food and was trying to pull me back into balance by craving carbohydrates.     

I invite you to harness the energy of the season by incorporating some autumn vegetables into your life and paying attention to how you feel after you eat them.  If you’ve been avoiding these types of vegetables, you may discover that they provide you with the nutrition and energy that your body has been lacking and help to eliminate your cravings.  Taking a walk in the crisp autumn air, roasting some vegetables and savoring their sweetness are a great way to spend an autumn afternoon.  In addition, I invite you to sign up for e-mail updates to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.

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