Autumn, Returning to Source, Homeland and the Sweetness of life
I just returned from my long awaited trip to the southwest US for the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference and a long awaited visit to my old stomping grounds in the Sonoran Desert of Tucson, AZ. Its been on my mind a while, but after my trip, I have decided it is time to go home.
For a plant person and someone who relies and dives deeply into the land for both work, play and spiritual sustenence, where I am on the land really impacts my daily life and my well being. I am home in the dry western lands where I grew up, both as a child, as an herbalist, and as an earth lover. The eastern forests are enchanting, the lushness of rivers and green are alluring, but when I sat in the dry forest of the western mountains of Arizona, I cried with relief to be home, and cried with grief to have to leave them again. So alas- it is with relief and joy that I'll be heading back to the desert canyons and western mountains as soon as I can. (I'm hoping before the snow flies!)
In light of that, I'll be offering several special products and items over the next few months, made from desert plants to help finance the move across the country, and hope that you will find one or two that suit your needs and can help me get that much closer to getting to the land I call home.
The first of which is the long beloved Chaparral Salve. You can get this at Poppy Swap right now! There is a limited quantity, that is until I get back to the desert! Stay tuned for new products!!
When I returned to New England, Autumn had wrapped her colorful skin around the the landscape, the trees turning gold, and orange and brown, the blustery fall air blowing them off the trees and about in whirls of mad dervish dances. Cold fall rain is soaking the earth. Its the time of year when Vata and Kapha tend to get out of balance- with lots of changes in temperatures and weather patterns, moisture, winds and coldness seeping in.
It was a bit of a shock to my systems to say the least, but one thing I do love about fall and this kind of weather is the food. I've been waiting for just the right time to have pumpkin again! And crisp apples, and warm soups, and hot spicy chai. And so, to balance out my systems in rhythm with the seasons, I made some yummy pumpkin concoctions that you are sure to enjoy as well!
Chaparral Salve available at Poppy Swap!
Pumpkin is a wonderful food for fall. It is warming in nature, and sweet and astringent. It supports the earth element, the spleen, warms the digestion and improves regularity. It is full of fiber, beta- carotene and offers us a sweet taste without being overly sugary or empty.
When the weather is cold and damp and erratic, pumpkin can help us to ground, stay warm, build energy and nourish the parts of us that long for the sweetness of life. the kind of sweetness that comes from loving relationships, fulfilled calling, connection to nature and to community, and a deep spiritual practice. Our society is too often lacking these sweetnesses, and we often find ourselves filling those needs with the sweet taste of sugar, or refined foods. I know when I'm feeling down in the dumps the urge to reach for the sugary, baked goods is fierce. But instead of cookies, ice cream, or alcohol- return to the natural sweet nourishment from Mama Earth. Sit under a tree, breathe deeply of your lover, and eat some pumpkin. It works!
Pumpkin is most commonly eaten in pumpkin pie, and loaded down with sugar unfortunately. But let pumpkin stand alone for a change and learn to appreciate the sweetness and warmth of this nourishing fall vegetable in its full glory. Try it chunked into fall stews with beef or lamb and generous spices. Or a pureed pumpkin curry soup with coconut milk, turmeric, ginger, onion and cauliflower, garnished with toasted coconut and cilantro! Try it buttered with salt as a substitute for mashed potatoes, and of course try it in the delicious warm smoothie below.
And if you must have pumpkin pie, try making it without so much sugar- try molasses instead to offer extra mineral nutrition, and use a little bit of unsweetened apple sauce to round out the natural sweetness of the pumpkin in your pie recipe. You will be delighted by how delicious it can be without any of the white stuff!
Pumpkin Chai Smoothie
No more cold smoothies till summer! This one is warm and nourishing to the core!
1/2 c pureed pumpkin (fresh baked is best, but canned will work too0
10 oz brewed warm chai tea (see below for a recipe)
4 oz milk (cream, almond, coconut, or other milk- choose your favorite)
1 tsp each powdered ginger, cinnamon, allspice
1/8 tsp each ground clove and nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup to taste, or use stevia to taste
1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
1 egg, blended
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a blender, or by hand with a whisk. Add more chai tea if you want it to be thinner consistency. Make sure your tea is warm when you make this and serve hot!
i always like to include warming and adaptogenic herbs in my chai blends.
1 black tea bag
1 tbsp tulsi basil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp black pepper cracked
1 tsp licorice root
1 tsp ashwaganda or astragalus
12 oz water
Simmer gently for 10-15 min. Strain well.
Sweeten if desired, but keep in mind the licorice is pretty sweet on its own.