‘Tis the season for gratitude and pumpkin flavored everything. Why do we crave pumpkin spice? In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), warming foods such as spices like cinnamon, ginger, pepper, nutmeg and cloves are the aromatics that keep your blood flowing.
The weather is becoming chilly and our organs are shifting into a more ‘yin’ time of the year, meaning your meals require more substance. That is why it is the best time of year to eat soups and stews that contain root vegetable and squashes.The seasons have a profound impact upon our well-being, and eating according to the seasons can impact our health as well as support our environment.
According to Traditional Chinese medicine, every food and herb has a flavor, and an organ system associated with it. For example, think of a lemon and your instantly start to pucker and salivate. Your liver and gallbladder reacts similarly when you eat sour and this stimulates bile, which in turn helps your body work better at breaking down fats.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, there are five basic flavors, and each one has an affinity for a particular organ. Sweet goes to the digestive organs (spleen, stomach, and pancreas); salty to the water-bearing organs (kidney and bladder); sour to the detoxifying organs (liver and gallbladder); bitter to the circulatory organ (heart); and pungent (or spicy) to the lungs and large intestine—the assimilation and elimination organs for air and food.
Sweet is considered the most important flavor, I repeat, SWEET is the most important flavor in TCM. This means sweet taste was identified as safe, easy-to-digest, nourishing foods to our ancestors. Sweet foods can replenish blood and energy, relieve fatigue, regulate the stomach, and help detoxify the body. I have stuck by honey for this reason and other sources for sweet are pumpkin, rice, acorn squash and sweet potato.
We have overblown our taste buds and blood sugar levels with way too much sweet, which leads to constipation, sinus congestion, blood clot and other congesting conditions. To counterbalance sweet, add in pungent and spicy such as cayenne pepper, ginger, onion and mustard.
Instead of focusing on your macros or your fat grams, try to focus on Step 1: FEEL: Ask your body if it wants hot or cold and sweet or savory. That will get you started in the right direction. So before we go and tax our digestive system on Thursday, add in the Pumpkin Smoothie any time of the day when your body is calling for sweet. And on Friday before you have your pumpkin pie for dessert, have hot water with lemon water and ginger to stimulate your digestion and combat the congestion.
Grateful Pumpkin smoothie
- 1 small frozen ripe banana.
- 1/4 cup organic pumpkin purée (canned is just fine)
- 1 1/4 cup organic spinach
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup plain unsweetened almond milk (more to thin)
- 1 t of cinnamon
- 1 t of nutmeg and/or pumpkin spice
- 1 t of vanilla
- 3 T of Hemp Seeds for protein
- 3 T of pecans or walnuts
- Ice (amount you prefer)
Blend the nuts in a high speed blender first so they can get creamy, then add all other ingredients and ENJOY!
This information comes from this really heavy book by Paul Pitchford, author of “Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition,” I carried around New Zealand for three months 13 years ago and still am because I knew this information was so important for my work and if I wanted to go back to school it was going to be for Acupuncture.
Carry on pumpkin,
Heather Fleming, C.C.N.