Indian Summer – Season of Transition
by Joanne DiMauro
Late summer or “Indian summer” is that precious week or two at the end of summer but before autumn when we get a glorious hot spell. I think of it as summer’s last hurrah before nature gets down to the business of fall and winter. For us, it’s the time of adjustment, transitioning getting back to school, work and making new projects and plans, an important period of preparation and readiness for the year’s work. It marks the shift from being “out” in spring and summer to the inward focus of fall and winter.
It’s the beginning of harvest time, when fruits are falling ripe to the ground and vegetables are big and plump. Apples, grapes, tomatoes, corn, beans and zucchini are in season right now, with squashes, pumpkins and grains still in preparation and on their way. Depending on the weather, if it feels good, continue eating light cooling summery foods (raw salads w/melons, leafy greens, cucumbers, etc). As we get closer to the autumn equinox, and the weather cools down, the days start getting shorter and darkness becomes dominant and it’s a good time to begin transitioning some denser/warming foods into the diet (i.e. a little more fat than during spring and summer and good heating fuel from foods such as whole grains). They have a building and toning effect on the body. Even changing the way we cook our food effects its energy and our bodies. i.e. in summer I tend to eat whole grains for breakfast in the form of a cold kasha cereal w/soy or rice milk, berries and sliced almonds which has a cooling, lighter effect on me, but as the weather gets colder I switch to a cooked steel cut oatmeal w/cinnamon, dried fruit like raisins and a dab of ghee (clarified butter) which has a warming, heartier effect.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the stomach and the spleen are the digestive organs that rule over the end of summer. The focus on the proper functioning of these organs is key to feeling good and preventing illness now as the weather begins to turn. It was fun while it lasted but it’s time to cut out on those ice cream treats and frozen drinks!
Exercise outdoors and keep the sports going as long as possible but changing up your program now will feel natural as our bodies start heading out of the expansiveness of summer and into a more contractive state. Listen to your instincts. Do you want to gain more strength with weight training and speed up your metabolism to counterbalance the heavier foods you will be eating? Or do you feel like stretching and loosening, practicing stillness and breathwork w/yoga to help your body, mind and joints stay loose and supple? A combination of both is a good way to keep muscles strong and relaxed to prevent injuries and keep you centered, grounded and balanced.
(Reference: Haas, Elson. Staying Healthy w/the Seasons. Simon and Schuster. 1981.)
This is a healthy dessert sweetened with maple syrup and honey
and uses “Indian” summer seasonal foods, the last of those
delicious summer peaches and the first of the fall apples and pears.
Get an early start on boosting your immune system with cinnamon and ginger. Also did you know that cinnamon can help regulate your blood sugar levels and lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides? It tastes good too! Let food be your medicine.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2-3 peaches or pears
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 cup raisins
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, or nuts of your choice
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons honey
- Wash, core and chop fruit into slices or chunks.
- Place in a large saucepan with 1/3 cup water. Add the maple syrup and raisins.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook for another 10 minutes, until soft.
- While fruit is cooking, place chopped nuts in a skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring often for 5 minutes.
- Drizzle honey over the nuts and add ginger, but keep stirring since the honey can easily burn.
- Top warm fruit with toasted nuts and enjoy!
(Joanne DiMauro, B.S. certified Holistic health coach, author, founding director of KNOW YOUR BODY, gives wellness lecture/workshops to businesses and organizations, facilitates nutritional/lifestyle coaching to groups and individuals and offers professional private personal fitness training to NYC area clientele. www.JoanneDiMauro.com)