As ridiculous as it may sound, I have always been a bit confused about what to eat in September. The days when I crave watermelon and basil salads have passed yet I’m not quite ready for a hearty butternut squash stew. If I were that kind of gal I would tag my FB posts with #nopumpkinspicelatte. So what the heck should we actually be eating in late summer and early fall?
Well, September is a great time to get your gut health in better shape to heal from the excesses of summer and prepare for the colds and viruses colder weather brings. Thus, many of the foods that are right for us now include foods that help optimize our digestion and balance out our gut bacteria. Our bodies are also ready to make the change from raw foods to more of those that are cooked. Think broths and lighter soups rather than cold salads. After the dehydrating months of summer, it is wise to refresh with plenty of water, herbal tea and broth.
Here are five foods that I make sure to keep in my kitchen and feature at my table this month:
Ginger is one of those incredibly healing yet very grounding spices that is a versatile digestive powerhouse. Ginger has been shown to prevent constipation, relieve acid reflux and prevent gas and bloating. One easy way to enjoy ginger daily is to brew up a batch of ginger tea in the beginning of the week by boiling 5 cups of water with 2 inches of minced ginger for 10 minutes and straining. A cup of this ginger tea warmed with lemon and a bit of raw honey or turmeric is a wonderful way to greet those beautiful September mornings.
2. Fermented Foods
Real pickles and sauerkraut, miso, yogurt, tempeh, kombucha… these are all examples of naturally fermented foods rich in probiotics. Foods that are allowed to preserve themselves without added vinegar or other ingredients help pass along beneficial bacteria that promote our gut and immune health. In fact, recent studies have shown that fermented foods can help temper over-reactive immune systems which are at the heart of those seasonal allergies (hello ragweed). A small serving or two of these fun foods can boost gut microbiota every day! And bonus… they can help support weight loss, too!
I mean… c’mon. What self-respecting Jersey girl wouldn’t love herself some ripe, organically-grown Jersey tomatoes in September! They are unequivocally the best! Unless you are tomato-sensitive, they are one of the tastiest sources of vitamin C and contain large amounts of lycopene which is a tremendous cancer and disease-preventive.
To make your own tomato paste, simply saute two cloves of chopped garlic and 1 large chopped onion in extra virgin olive oil for a couple of minutes until they are translucent. Add 8 to 10 chopped whole tomatoes and a teaspoon of fresh chopped herbs. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Remove from the heat, drizzle with more olive oil, and add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve over grains or broiled fish or steamed spinach and olives.
4. Wild Rice
A very grounding food, wild rice is slightly higher in protein than most other whole grains, and is a good source of ﬁber, folate, magnesium and other essential minerals. If you tolerate grains, the fall is a great time to focus on simple grain-based recipes to boost digestion and wild rice can help warm the body on those colder days.
5. Tulsi Tea
If you’ve never tried Tulsi tea, this is the time to do it! Made from the leaves of the Holy Basil plant, tulsi is a relaxant and helps the body respond to stress. (um, yes please). Tulsi is a busy woman’s best friend as it has been shown to relieve anxiety and reduce symptoms of adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, unbalanced blood sugar and even acne. You can try buying Tulsi herbs and adding to your favorite soups, stir-fries and salads or enjoying a cup of Tulsi tea each afternoon.
In this month of transition, making changes gradually and gently supporting your body and spirit with plentiful sleep, restorative exercise and deep breathing with an emphasis on long exhales will help keep you grounded and calm.
Inspired by a cleanse I followed this summer, I hope you enjoy this Cold Tomato Miso Soup that is perfect for September!