As the cool crisp air of autumn mornings and warm afternoons begin to be apparent, we will start to shift our diet, and prepare our body and mental state to help us transition into cooler temperature and shorter daylight days. Adjusting to the ebb and flow of the changing season can be challenging to some as the body and mind find it difficult to cope, or a pleasant welcome for others.
Autumn in Chinese medicine belongs to the organ of Lungs and Large Intestines. The Lungs govern our respiratory function and circulate our ‘Wei Qi’ also known as immunity or defence Qi around the body. Wei Qi helps our body to adjust and protect us from the changes in the external environment. Those with poor or compromised immune function might be prone to getting cold and flu like symptoms, dry throat and skin, and excessive mucous production and congestion. Other may start to see an increase in digestive problems especially with bowel movements leaning towards constipation and dry stools.
The emotion associated with the Lungs is sadness and grief. We may start to feel a sense of low moods and noticeable mild depression. The paired organ of the Lung, the Large Intestines, function as an organ of elimination. This may be a good time to release and let go of emotions, career or baggage that we hold on to that no longer serve our highest good.
As nature slowly contracts and moves inward and downwards, we will begin to introduce warm and pungent spices such as horse radish, cardamom, chili, white pepper and coriander into our diet. We will also see more white coloured food available such as the onion, garlic, cabbage, leek, radish, daikon turnip, fresh ginger, apple and pear. These warming and pungent spices, and white coloured food are a great way to boost the function of the Lungs, aid in circulating Wei qi around the body and disperse and eliminate the stuck energy of the organ. Another way to help strengthen your Lung Qi is to practise deep breathing exercises daily for 5 minutes. It is also a great way to help reduce stress which can easily compromise our Lung Qi/immune function.
Try this simple autumn recipe by Gloria Chan @mgtestkitchen incorporating seasonal produce to help boost your Lung Qi – Enjoy!
GULA MELAKA POACHED PEAR
There’s nothing quite like comfort food as the colder months approach. Minimal effort and versatile, poached pears are great as a light and elegant dessert, or delicious with quinoa porridge to start the day.
To give the poached pears a deeper depth of flavour, try using Gula Melaka, a sweetener derived from coconut palm instead of caster sugar. It’s readily available in most Asian grocers or large supermarkets in solid or liquid form. Everyone’s palate is different, so have a play with the amount of sweetener until you find the perfect measure for you.
4 medium firm pears, peeled (leave stalks on)
Gula Melaka to taste (shaved from a block or liquid. Replace with coconut sugar if you’re unable to find Gula Melaka)
Star anise (1 large one, or 2 small ones)
Cinnamon stick (whole)
4-6 Cardamom pods
1 inch of fresh ginger (sliced)
Place all ingredients in a pot and with water, ensuring that the pears are submerged entirely. Taste the poaching liquid and adjust with more Gula Melaka if required.
Bring the poaching liquid to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer (the bubbles should just be popping gently on the surface of the liquid). Poach for 1.5-2 hours, depending on the size of your pears. Pears are cooked once a knife spears through the thickest part easily.
Remove from poaching liquid and continue to reduce the liquid until it’s syrupy. Store the pears in the liquid until you’re ready to use them (they’ll store for up to a week, if you can stop yourself from finishing it in one sitting!).