Happy Autumnal Equinox! It’s the most wonderful time of the year – cozy sweaters, pumpkins, gorgeous colors and smells. There’s something about the crisp air that, somehow, makes everything feel so vibrant. Like those first warm days of spring – when you can just smell the change in the air – fall brings with it a unique freshness. For me, autumn always feels like a rebirth. It’s no surprise to me that fall is considered the season of balance. It’s a golden opportunity to restore balance to your own life. Here are some of my favorite ways to celebrate this time of harvest and thanksgiving.
Experiment with seasonal produce. Don’t fret about the change at your farmers market. While the abundant berries and summer squash have phased out, get excited about the fall bounty – apples, pears, swiss chard, turnips, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, artichokes, and more shapes and sizes of winter squash than you can imagine. Seriously – a pile of acorn, kabocha, butternut and delicata squash looks more like an artist’s sculpture. Challenge yourself to try one new item each time you go to the market. Not sure what to do with kohlrabi? And what the heck is a kumquat, anyway? Talk to someone at the market, or do a little research when you get home. You might find a new favorite! My life has not been the same since I took a chance on an oddly shaped kabocha squash 3 years ago.
Fall cleaning. While we’re all encouraged to embrace spring cleaning, fall cleaning is another must for me. With the amount of stuff most of us accumulate in just a few months, the new season is an ideal time to de-clutter – our homes and our bodies. Dedicate an afternoon to clearing out closets and junk drawers for things you aren’t using anymore and donate them to someone who can. Treat your body to some cleansing, too. Try a liver detox that cuts out caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods for a week or two (JSHealth has a wonderfully user-friendly guide) or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, colon hydrotherapy. You’ll feel lighter and brighter, inside and out.
Get cozy. Is there anything quite like sweater weather? That in-between period when no coat is required – a cozy sweater and chic scarf are perfect for shuffling through the fallen leaves. Have fun with layers – that dress you loved in warmer months can be just as functional now with a blazer, tights and boots. At home, pull out the knit blankets and quilts. Make or buy soy candles – the added light will keep your spirit vibrant, and warm, spicy fall scents will keep your senses happy too.
Transition to warming foods. Just as our bodies tend to crave raw, crisp, refreshing foods in the summer, our systems often need warm, grounding meals as the weather cools. Think soups, stews and root vegetables – seasonal produce that helps nourish and energize us. Experiment with spices, too. Cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and garlic are all beneficial – and tasty – additional to autumn dishes.
Make soup. Is there anything more comforting than a warm bowl of soup? Fall is the perfect time to to take advantage of seasonal produce that’s perfect for homemade soup – carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cauliflower – all are easy to simmer into a nutrient-rich blend without the added sodium and preservatives. I’ll be sharing some of my fall soup recipes, but give this ratatouille recipe a try in the meantime.
Play with pumpkins. Pumpkin lovers are prone to mocking this time of year, but I will unabashedly celebrate that gorgeous gourd well into January. Something about the smell and the taste of all the pumpkin spiced things brings such delicious comfort. Pumpkin itself is a nutritional powerhouse – it’s packed with antioxidants plus vitamin A, carotenoids and beta-carotene, all things you need to protect your peepers. Indulge in pumpkin butter, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie – and for an extra healthy challenge, make them yourself! Trust me, I’ve got recipes coming your way. By the end of the season, we’ll be orange.
Start a gratitude journal. This can be one of the most calming, grounding ways to start or end your day. Take just a moment to jot down a few of things you’re grateful for that day. Not only does it remind to appreciate all the good stuff you’ve got (an amazing partner, puppy snuggles, really fabulous wellies to shuffle through the fallen leaves), it can boost your mood overall. And if you’re prone to the blues when the days get shorter, this is something to be grateful for in itself!