My internal clock is telling me it is fall, yet my outer world in my new home in the South is showing signs of summer all around me, as tropical flowers abound in full bloom, punctuated with blue sky, an occasional roll of thunder, and a warm bath of afternoon rain. Some rare days still reach into the low 90s, but now they dare to drop down to the low 70s at night. The heat and humidity are in stark contrast to the meteorological ambiance of other locations where I have lived, which had four seasons, giving me a chance to heal in a place that leaves me feeling like I am being encapsulated in a soft, warm blanket. Being open to changes has allowed me to see the beauty in spending time in a part of the world that I may have rejected in the past.
Being a Midwest girl through and through has given me a plethora of ingrained memories to draw from to create traditional rituals to recognize the change of seasons from summer to fall that I had passed on to my children. Being alone and in a strange land without a home to call my own has allowed me to strip away the superfluous in order to reveal what is important. I don’t necessarily have to see the sudden turn of leaves or feel a chill in the air to remind me one season has passed to another, so I will slow down and get ready to root down to take in all that I have learned during this past year. What do I want to shed, let go of, so I can invite new experiences into my new life?
Oftentimes, preparing meals that are time-consuming gives one time to answer those questions and more. One thing that I wish I had spent more time implementing in our family life is saying grace before mealtimes, also recognizing the fall and spring equinox and the spiritual meaning behind certain holiday celebrations, the way our ancestors may have done long ago. Taking care of myself, as my life is in transition, means taking the time to make healthy meals, even if it is just for myself, and bringing in a spiritual component since the only person who needs to approve or accept this now is me.
Soup is an easy comfort food to make, with added health bonuses for the body and brain. When I lived in Boulder, I had the fortunate experience to be under the care of a doctor who was trained in both Ayurvedic and western medicine, a rarity in the United States. Part of my prescription for anxiety and adrenal fatigue was eating warm, nourishing food like curries. Turmeric has been used for medicinal purposes in South Asia and India for at least 3,000 years. Not only does it protect your brain from Alzheimer’s, it is known to have anti-inflammatory effects that prevent sharp spikes in blood sugar because of the compound curcumin. Consuming curry powder that contains coriander on a regular basis has the the powerful ability to be a great detoxifier from the body of such toxic heavy metals as mercury and lead, removing them to prevent some of the effects of poisoning such as low sperm count and low testosterone.
Here is one of my favorite recipes for vegetarians, vegans, and meat eaters alike since you can easily swap out chicken broth for vegetable and substute chicken for tofu, but it is just as satisfying without any protein at all. As a bonus, if you leave any left over soup in the pot, you might find that the noodles soak up the the yummy sweet coconut and spicy sauce for leftovers.
Squash & Curried Noodle Soup
- 1 large organic butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1 8-ounce package of pad thai rice noodles (I like Lotus Foods)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 6 cups organic chicken broth
- 14 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
- 6-8 ounces organic baby spinach
- 2 limes
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add butternut squash and reduce heat to medium. Simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Add noodles. Simmer, uncovered, 4-5 minutes until noodles are al dente; drain noodles and squash. Set aside.
2. In the same pot, heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add spices; cook and stir 1 minute. Slowly add broth and coconut milk; bring to boiling. Stir in cooked squash and noodles; return to boiling. Stir in spinach. Season to taste with salt. Remove pot from heat. Squeeze and stir in juice of one lime. Cut remaining lime into wedges and use as garnish in soup.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s meal chant
This food is the gift of the whole universe—the earth, the sky, and much hard work.
May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it.
May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially our greed.
May we take only foods that nourish and prevent illness.
We accept this food so that we may realize the path of our practice.