Fall brings its bounty; there are many vegetables and fruits that we typically consider “fall”. We all know pumpkins ripen around Halloween, but what about pomegranates, or a new variety of winter squash? This year I began to notice, and try some new varieties, a medley I typically haven’t prepared in the past. Acorn squash is one example, as I’ve always been more of a sweet potato gal. I wondered, though, if Mother Nature provided this harvest, what are the benefits of eating such things as: acorn squash, chestnuts, cranberries, or Brussels sprouts? And, do these vegetables prepare us for the winter? I whipped out my Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood and share what I discovered. I hope this will encourage you to try something new!
Acorn Squash started this whole discourse. LOL. Squash is considered a chi tonic* and a warming food that is medicinal to the spleen, stomach, large intestine and lungs. It improves energy and blood circulation. Winter squash is exceptionally high in complex carbohydrates (A good thing for keeping the glycemic index stable.) and is medicinal for diabetics and those with digestive problems. Squash provide vitamins A and C, potassium and magnesium. It is an excellent source of pre-vitamin A and often carotenoids and therefore has anticarcinogenic properties.
I experienced hot chestnuts while visiting NYC many years ago from a street vendor. I didn’t know if I liked them at first, because of the texture, but it happened to be cold and blustery and after a few, I decided I did in fact appreciate their uniqueness to my palate. I now look forward to their appearance in the stores. They are easily and quickly boiled—sliced with X’s and “roasted” in the oven. They happen to be a chi and yang tonic** and the chestnuts nurture the kidneys, stomach and spleen. Rebecca describes them as sweet like fruit, but unlike fruit, it warms and builds, rather than cools and cleanses. They are a good ‘convalescing food and they have an astringing nature that controls diarrhea, coughing, whooping cough and rheumatism’.
I have already made my first batch of cranberry sauce this year—one of my favorite condiments. Cranberries are actually native to North America and a welcome sight when I see them in the store. They are a cold food and dispel heat and damp. They act upon the bladder, kidney and large intestine. They are rich in polyphenol antioxidants and appear to benefit the immune and cardiovascular system. They have anticancer properties and have a chemical compound called proanthocyanidins which help inhibit bacteria in the bladder, urinary tract and teeth. Cranberry consumption also reduces some types of kidney stones. Who knew?
Brussels sprouts seem to be a controversial food; they are either loved or hated! But, given the evidence and benefits to the body, perhaps they are worth taking another look—and taste. They happen to be a warming food that helps disperse cold. They support the stomach and large intestine function and mildly stimulate the liver out of stagnancy. They are an excellent source of folic acid, vitamins C and K and beta-carotene. Nutritionally and energetically, they’re similar to cabbage and contain numerous glucosinolates, which are cancer fighting phytochemicals. At their prime need only to be seasoned with butter and salt or with extra virgin olive oil and lemon after they have been blanched or steamed.
And, last but not least are Pomegranates, not typically something I buy often. But I was recently a host-family to a student who grew up in Iran. She showed me how they ate them and I watched her squeeze the rind and turn this fruit into fresh ruby red juice—I was amazed! Pomegranates are a yin tonic*** that disperses heat and treats the bladder, spleen, stomach, liver and large intestine. They promote the production of red blood cells, expel tape worms, strengthen the bladder and gums and soothe ulcers in the mouth and throat. Rebecca also states that they have punicalagins (the tannins in the pomegranates) have free radical activity and therefore treat heart disease and help protect against cancer. Clinical data shows the effectiveness of pomegranates in treating breast, lung, and prostate cancer. They also help with the assimilation of fats, protein and carbohydrates.
*Chi Tonic: Improves and maintains the quality and quantity of available energy in the body.
**Yang Tonic: Maintains and improves our ability to generate warmth and stimulate our system.
***Yin Tonic: Complementary to yang in Chinese philosophy. Yin is the female element and associated with moon, night, damp, cold, interior and decending.
–“Inspired Wellness from Within“--Cathy Silver, HC and Wellness Warrior