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Fall is the season where we harvest the fruition of what was planted in Spring and Summer. We gather in the fruits, grains, nuts and seeds, and all the abundance of Fall vegetables. We turn to inward thoughts, our homes, and our families. We take quiet walks to enjoy the coloring of the leaves. We rest more to keep that immune system in tip-top shape. The Days of Thanks (which should actually be every day) are a good time to do a little Fall cleanse of our digestive system in which you might include the juices of beets, celery, carrots, parsley, zucchini and such though always diluted with water, or apple, grape, or pear juices.

Chinese medicine states this is the season of the lungs and the large intestine. After the mine-cleanse of juices you may be eating fewer fruits than you did in the summer. We turn now more to the grains and vegetables, which are especially nice roasted in the oven or even over an open fire or on the grill. Those who eat meat may include more while the vegetarians may increase beans, nuts, seeds, and even some eggs. Either way, the Instapot and crockpot will play a greater role in the preparation of soups, stews, and bone broths

Fall is the start of the yin cycle, the inward turning cycle. It is the time to finish those projects of Spring and Summer, and to put the garden temporarily to bed. Thus may we prepare for a day (or more) of feasting.

There will be an abundance of recipes for stuffing whether you stuff a turkey, bell peppers, squash, or cook the stuffing in a pan. We are so scared of gluten that gluten-free is on most every menu in every restaurant now. But the real problem may be in buying average bread from a big box store or regular grocery store. Our bodies are not made to digest that amount of gluten at one sitting. If you make an effort to locate organic, heirloom grains, preferably sprouted or soured you may digest better than most of America’s quickly-grown, high gluten bread. In our country everything is all about the money so everything is fast, fast, fast. While there is currently no genetically modified wheat in the United States (yet) it would be a good thing to avoid. Pita bread has no yeast but should be avoided by anyone with a grain allergy.

Broccoli is being harvested now and even the children learn to love those “little trees”. It is very nutrient dense and easy to prepare. It is high in vitamins C, B complex, calcium, and potassium and, chromium (the latter helps to prevent diabetes). Broccoli is among the cruciferous vegetables which include cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi and more. These cruciferous vegetables are all anti-cancer foods though you should try to avoid any vegetable grown in high nitrate soils or where Round-Up is used. Opt for the freshest and darkest broccoli you can find and roast in a hot oven or steam it just until the color turns a very bright green.

Cranberries, that traditional accompaniment, are very high in vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and fiber. Also pretty on the plate and a nice tangy side dish for the other rather salty and rich foods of the fall feast. Most women are aware of the reputation that cranberries have for alleviating urinary tract infections. But don’t stop just with the cranberry sauce, put the dried ones in your green salad or bake a cranberry and pear pie.

Mushrooms are body building foods and anti-aging that can be eaten after your mini-cleanse and at any big feast. Use them when they are very fresh or totally dried as a base for broths, gravies, soups, and stews. Called ‘fungus’ in Asian cultures, they are very low in calories but high in minerals and will boost your immune system, which is a good thing to do in the fall as preparation for winter colds and flu. According to Paul Stamets, PhD, it is best to not eat mushrooms raw (even the common white ones found in most grocery stores). Though I can’t imagine that three or four in a salad would cause much harm. Probably best to serve mushrooms on the side as one never knows who among your guests might not enjoy mushrooms.

Olives are usually served as an appetizer or worn on the fingers of any children present. Olives are a big part of the Mediterranean diet as they are high in monosaturated fats which help control cholesterol levels. Plus they too are low in calories (for those who are still counting them). My belief is there’s no need to count calories if you just eat healthy foods and not many of the packaged, processed, junk foods on the supermarket shelves. Olive oil is one great oil to use on your salad with just a little fresh lemon juice and herbs of your choice added.

Onions, which can be so-well used in the fall feast, are a good source of trace minerals, especially germanium, which is also in mushrooms and many herbs. Onions help decrease food allergies, fungal overgrowth, viruses, and cancer as well as being beneficial for the heart. I eat onions daily, both cooked and raw, and have been told that my heart is two years younger than my actual age! You can fill your onions with stuffing or nuts, or make pickled onions, or even cook the small ones with your broccoli.

Mashed potatoes are known to be a big part of the fall feat, but you can serve them in any form that appeals to you. Commercial onions and potatoes have been treated with sprout inhibitors which have been known to cause cellular changes in tests, so make an effort to buy organic potatoes, or better yet, grow your own potatoes. Try to harvest them before there are too many rains as that can cause them to rot in the ground. Do not make the mistake of thinking that potatoes should not be grown because they are so cheap to buy. The flavor of a home-grown potato is superb!

You can even use any potatoes you have that may have sprouted to grow new ones next spring. The lifeforce is so strong that they will grow even if coated in sprout inhibitors (which obviously don’t work anyway). Potatoes are a staple in some of the Mexican cancer clinics because of their potassium content. To make a high potassium broth, just cook potatoes with carrots, celery, and parsley. Strain out the broth and store it in your refrigerator to be warmed up for recovery from illness.

Ahh, pumpkin, the piece-de-resistance. Pumpkins are plentiful and being harvested right now. Their lovely color makes them rich source of beta-carotene, as well as vitamins A, C, and potassium. The seeds are a source of iron, vitamins B, E, and fiber. The seeds can be bakes or roasted, used to top soups or stews. You can roast the seeds for a snack and flavor them with your favorite herbs. You can purchase them already shelled or roasted as well. Try to buy them packaged rather than from open bins as the ones in the bins may have been already oxidized. This is the opposite of my usual advice to not buy packaged foods.

The Day-of-Thanks is a feast day in the United States and many people serve turkey. Though I once had a friend who had a freezer full of trout that her husband had caught and she decided that would make a perfect Thanksgiving meal. So you don’t have to serve turkey but poultry is an excellent source of protein. You could serve anything from game hens to Tofurkey as they all have less saturated fat than any other meats. Turkey is high in vitamins A, B, and minerals. The latest studies say to not wash your poultry as that leads to kitchen-wide contaminants. If you can afford a free-range and organic turkey, go for it as supermarket  pre-packaged turkeys are preserved with formaldehyde. Whether you cook your poultry in an oil-coated paper bag or a deep-fryer, remember to be thankful for your food.

Last, but not least, the pies if you are serving them: whether apple, berry, nut, or pear, or pumpkin, squash, or Vegan be sure to enjoy! It’s ok to treat yourself and your guests and they will be thankful.

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