The weather is starting to turn cool and damp, the leaves are falling from the trees and the ducks and geese are flying in their V formation signalling that fall is here. The big seasonal change between summer and fall can be a difficult adjustment on our bodies and we often see “seasonal allergies” flare up and sore and stiff joints from the damp weather. I like to look to nature and the plants and see what the season suggests. My nutritionist mind tells me that nutrients such as Vitamin C and quercetin are important, my herbal heart tells me that nature shows us this by having the proper plants and foods in season that we need. Let’s look at some perfect plants and foods for this time of year:
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus Typhina) – the bright red and fuzzy berries are packed with vitamin C. They make a delicious “lemonade” that even kids will enjoy. Doing a cold infusion helps to preserve the Vitamin C which can be quickly depleted when heated. My kids love to nibble berries on our nature walks and touch the soft stems of the trees. You can also dry the berries and grind them to use a tangy seasoning. Please note that White Sumac is a poisonous plant, even though they share a common name, these plants are not related. Please make sure to properly identify all wild plants before consuming them. I highly recommend getting an app and then double checking to make sure it is indeed the plant you are looking for.
To make Sumac Lemonade:
Gather enough berries to fill a pitcher halfway
Rinse berries and put them into clean pitcher
Fill with water (preferably filtered)
Infuse overnight in the fridge
Strain and add honey to taste (optional)
Drink within a couple of days
Dandelion Root (Taraxacum) – during the fall the energy from the flowers, stems and leaves returns back to the roots. Dandelion roots are a great source of Vitamin C and offer a wide range of vitamins and nutrients. This root helps support the liver which in turn will help rid the body of toxins. These roots make an excellent tea or you can roast them first to get a more “coffee like” taste. The best way to prepare dandelion root tea is as a decoction*:
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh dandelion root or dried root
Add to a small sauce pan with 1-2 cups of water
Bring to a simmer, I like to put the lid on partially and simmer for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour.
Strain, add honey or sweetener (optional) and enjoy!
*roots, barks and berries are best extracted as a decoction (simmering in hot water for 20 minutes or a few hours)
Burdock Root (Arctium) – if you are harvesting this root, make sure to bring a shovel because roots can be 3-4 feet long. Since the roots can reach deep into the earth, this means that it is abundant in many nutrients we are lacking. Burdock root is an excellent source of quercetin. You can prepare burdock root the same as dandelion root (and even combine the two). Burdock can also be made into a popular dish called Gobo or roasted the same as other root vegetables. Burdock root purifies the blood and really helps support the body with it’s slow and gentle way of cleansing. Being such a deep root it also will nourish us at a deep level too and I consider this a gentle and effective way to cleanse are body physically and emotionally.
This combination of roots is a great way to support the body through seasonal changes, replenish the body after a bout of illness or strengthen the body and support healing after surgery:
Replenishing Roots Tea (fresh or dried):
2 tablespoons chopped burdock root
2 tablespoons chopped dandelion root
Grated ginger (1/2 tsp – 1 tsp)
Drink 1-3 cups daily for a week**
Add roots to a sauce pan with 4-6 cups water and simmer for 20 minutes or longer. Strain, add honey to taste (optional). Store left over in the fridge and reheat as needed.
*you can put this in a crockpot on warm and add water whenever you scoop out a cup or do the same thing on the stove top.
Apples – more than likely the old saying “An apple a day will keep the doctor away” was due to the quercetin apples provide us with. Apple picking is such a fun family activity to do in the fall or you can pick them up from your local market. We enjoy apples so many ways in my house and there is definitely no shortage of recipes on the internet for apples! I will leave this simple idea of slicing apples, sprinkle generously with cinnamon and dehydrate! This is such a delicious snack and I love adding these sweet slices to my tea!
These are just a few of many plants and foods that will help support your body through the change of season and help prepare your immune system for the colder weather. Take a look what is in season around you, what is growing outside your door and see what the main nutrients are – these are what you need right now!
**Please note that this is not medical advice, please consult your primary physician if before starting new regimens or taking medications.