10/24/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Ultimate Balance: What to Eat This Season

I put my flip -flops back in the closet today and cooked butternut squash soup (see recipe below!) for lunch. It must be official: summer is over.

Yesterday the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere (when day and night are of equal length) marked the change of seasons. We feel this as temperatures slowly drop, daylight hours wane, and trees shed their colorful shawls of leaves once again. Nature, however, is not the only one changing. Our bodies also shift to acclimate to the world around us.

To ensure both peace of mind and a strong immune system through the winter months, find ways to connect and harmonize with your surroundings now. One of the best ways to do this is by eating foods that are in season. Every single food that exists--from a coffee bean to an ear of corn--has a precise medicinal effect to assist the body's equilibrium as we pass from season to season.

In a world where we can buy a plump peach on a snowy, January day, we need to relearn and remember the benefits of eating seasonal and local foods as much as possible, just as our ancestors did. While the juicy watermelons, cucumbers, and berries of the summer months serve as perfect anecdotes to that season's heat, now it's time to opt for warm, heavy, and moist foods and beverages to help counteract autumn's cold and dry qualities.

Savor oatmeal spiced with cinnamon and drizzled with maple syrup. Bake spaghetti squash, garnished with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, and sea salt. Drink chamomile tea sweetened with honey at the end of the day to soothe frayed nerves. Avoid eating leftovers (more than 24 hours old), dry food like popcorn and raw fruits, or light foods like steamed vegetables or crunchy salads.

Clues that your body might not be acclimating as well as it could to autumn's arrival are: dry skin, insomnia, constipation, gas or bloating, fatigue, headaches, or unsettling emotions like fear, anxiety, and worry. Choosing seasonal foods may help to replace these symptoms with greater mental alertness and feelings of well being, healthy sleep and elimination, and fortified immunity.

The next time you head out to the store (or, even better, to your local farmer's market), stock up on:

• Apples
• Root Vegetables (Beets, Parsnips, Carrots)
• Sweet Potatoes
• Pumpkins
• Onions, Garlic, and Ginger
• Cinnamon
• Nuts (Walnuts, Chestnuts, etc)
• Rice
• Oatmeal
• Maple Syrup
• Squash
• Whatever else is growing in your area!

Then, when you get home, try making this butternut squash soup. Serve alone or with a slice of warm, whole grain bread.

Butternut Squash Soup


• 1 Medium Butternut Squash (peeled, seeded, and cubed)
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter
• 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• Sea salt and pepper to taste
• Fresh Filtered Water (or vegetable stock

In a medium saucepan, add olive oil and onion and sauté until the onions are soft. Add ginger and garlic and mix together. Add butternut squash and just enough water to the pot to cover squash. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until butternut squash is soft. Add mixture to blender or use an immersion blender to blend soup until smooth.

Happy Autumn!