Seasonal Eating for Fall and Winter

A guest post by Katherine Sumner

“Time slows. The days are shorter now. The warmth of the sun begins to lessen as leaves change color.  The garden, which in summer overflowed, is now fading into the larder or onto the compost pile.  Life in its many forms slows down.  Autumn invites us to choose slow foods, whole foods, foods that take time but bring health.”
– Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert.

As we begin to feel the crisp, cool air of fall and winter, our bodies begin to crave more warming foods – such as curries, soups, stews, and chili.  It is no surprise that nature provides us with the foods our bodies need.  First, we begin the season with an abundance of apples. Why?  Apples have a high fiber content which helps to cleanse the intestines and prepare the body for the cold and dry winter to come (when we typically eat a high-protein / high-fat diet).

In winter, the cold wind dries out the earth and our bodies can become dried out too, a sensation we feel in our throats and sinuses.  To counteract the drying effects of winter, we draw on nature’s high-protein, high-fat diet in the form of warm, heavy, oily foods that will replenish our depleted reserves of moisture.  Heavy foods — such as bananas, avocados, beets, winter squash, nuts, meat, deep-sea fish, and oils – all help to keep our bodies warm, moist and nourished.  If we continue to eat foods that are already drying to our bodies (i.e., pretzels, crackers, etc.) and cooling foods (i.e., cucumbers, melons, etc.) then our bodies become unbalanced.  Often the first indication that the seasons are changing is a scratchy throat or dried mucus in our sinuses.  As a defense against an irritation caused in the membranes by allergens or/and pollutants, the body produces mucus which becomes an ideal place for cold and flu germs to breed.  So when fall begins, start by eating an abundance of seasonal fruit in the fall, then begin to eat more protein and fat, grains, nuts, hearty soups, and meat.

Rest is another important part of the winter season.  The need to slow down is why the days are shorter.  Nature is giving us a signal that we need more sleep during this time for our bodies to stay strong.  It is when we sleep that our body can do its job of removing excess toxins.


So how can we as parents nourish our children during the winter season?

  • Minimize dairy – milk has a “cooling” energy, and some believe it produces excess phlegm.  When drinking milk, try heating it and adding some spices – ginger, cardamom, turmeric, or honey to reduce its congestive properties.Start including root vegetables in your home menu – beets, parsnips, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and onions (limit the intake of raw vegetables which cool the body).
  • Use a variety of oils – coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil to help keep our bodies moist.
  • Eat whole grains – brown rice, millet, quinoa, barley and bulgur/ wheat (unless gluten intolerant). 
  • Eat sweet, sour, and heavy fruits – oranges, bananas, avocados, grapefruit, pineapples, and mangoes.
  • Add spices – ginger, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, mustard seed, clove, fennel, and sea salt.
  • Add nuts and seeds.
  • Add meats and fish.
  • If vegetarian, add spices to your beans and increase your use of tofu.
  • Learn to make homemade, nutritious stock for soups! “Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily – not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur, and trace minerals” – Weston Price Foundation, Sally Fallon
  • Rest and give thanks.

Find a simple recipe with your child and get them in the kitchen. Depending on their age, they can help you clean vegetables, mix up ingredients, or set the table.  Once you find a few recipes that seem to work, add them to your family favorite list!  Here are a few tips from our kitchen:

1)   Keep raw nuts and seeds on hand  (good fats) so their bodies do not get too dry and begin to produce excess mucus– a breeding ground for colds and flu.

2)   Roast root veggies – coat the veggies with a little olive oil or coconut oil plus some sea salt and roast them at 400 degrees for a tasty treat!

3)   Have your child create his/her own smoothie – start with two bananas, almond butter, raw cacao, and water.

4)   Make your own soups and stock. Have your children choose vegetables (carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, butternut squash, corn, green peas) and maybe a whole grain or favorite pasta.  Add stock, and they have made their very own vegetable soup!

5)   Add winter greens (swiss chard, collards, kale, or spinach) to soups or pasta.

I hope you enjoy these ideas to help you include these wonderful foods into your family meals and begin to eat seasonally and in harmony with the fall/winter season. I have also included some recipes that my family enjoys during the colder fall/winter months.  I wish all of you a healthy and restful fall and winter – enjoy the season!

Kale Salad

Enchilada Bake

Thai Chicken Soup

Gingered Coconut Mash

Go ahead to the “Recipes” tab and filter the recipes by season (select “fall and winter”)!


Perfect Health for Kids by Dr. John Douillard

The 3-Season Diet by Dr. John Douillard

Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair

Earth to Table by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann

Clean Food by Terry Walters

Disclaimer: This column is for information only, and no part of its contents should be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, recommendation, or endorsement by the author. You should always ask your physician for his or her recommendation before starting any new health-related activity.

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