Dr. Japa K. Khalsa

 

Produce yields from New Mexico’s long growing season can make for some amazing healing foods. In Eastern medicine, September is part of “late summer” and is linked to the Element of Earth. We can see this connection through the bounty of fruits and vegetables that the Earth is yielding in colorful abundance. The foods that are seasonal to this time are particularly beneficial to the cycle of the body as it begins to slow down for winter. Foods like squash, pumpkin, chile, apples and all the colorful crops have minerals and vitamins that are especially nourishing for the pancreas, digestive organs and muscles.

This time of early fall is a time to settle down from the busy summer and nurture, rebuild and connect with hearth and home. From the Five Element Cycle of Chinese medicine, connection to the Earth Element through this seasonal approach links us to the natural and gentle healing cycles of the seasons. This is a time for nurturing, rebuilding and connecting with hearth and home in preparation for winter. When this Earth Element is in balance we feel grounded, stable and on top of our game. If aggravated or out of balance, one can feel anxious, nervous and find it hard to relax. As the cool air of fall starts to move in, some anxious types can be aggravated or feel worse, so be aware of this tendency in oneself and others. The healing recipes below and most of the actual crops of fall are often sweet and warming in flavor, and this is a remedy to that tendency towards anxiety and stress. Orange, yellow and the burnished warm reds of apple are the colors connected with late summer and early fall. Eat plenty of these foods and try to keep it simple so that your body can soak in the complexity of what the Earth has produced through these powerful food remedies.

Chopping and prepping take a few minutes, but these recipes are fast and easy. Try to use fresh ingredients from the garden or from the local farmers’ market.

 

Tortilla soup

For the base:

4 cups of fresh chopped tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic

½-to-1 hot chile pepper, peeled and seeded

Cilantro, ½ of a bunch, chopped leaves and discarded stems

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups of veggie stock, add at the end of broth preparation until desired thinness

In a pan with olive oil, sauté the above ingredients for 10 minutes until almost completely cooked, spicy and delicious. Let cool and blend in a blender, adding veggie stock slowly until the soup base is smooth and creamy. Flavor with salt and pepper.

 

Tortilla strips

While the base is cooking, get some slightly stale tortillas and cut them into thin strips. If using fresh tortillas, simply lay them on a cookie sheet and bake them at 200 for 20 minutes to dry them out. Then cut into thin strips and fry in a pan with olive oil until crispy. Set the strips aside on a paper towel.

Veggies

1-to-2 zucchini squash, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Corn, cut off a cob

2 avocados, cut into bite-sized pieces

Optional: sour cream, chopped cilantro (garnish)

After blending the soup base, bring it to a very slow boil and add the zucchini and corn and let it cook in the soup for 10-to -12 minutes until veggies are soft and flavors are blended. Add avocado pieces at the end and garnish with tortilla strips, sour cream and chopped cilantro.

 

Summer SquashBake

While squash is considered a starchy vegetable, it contains an unusual amount of pectin, which has been linked in studies as a preventative for diabetes. The bright colored skin of squash is rich in antioxidants, and 1-2 per day will help you meet your daily requirements of potassium, which helps in maintaining electrolyte balance.

4-to-5 zucchini or patty pan squash

1 cup of milk

3 cups shredded mozzarella or cheddar

Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper

This easy casserole takes minutes to whip up and satisfies the whole family.

Preheat the oven to 400. Slice the zucchini into rounds or thin slices and start with one layer in the casserole dish. Splash in a few tablespoons of milk to “wet” the vegetables, then sprinkle salt and pepper and herbs de Provence on the zucchini. Cover with a layer of cheese and repeat this step two to three times until your casserole dish is filled with layers of veggies and cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and broil the top for a few minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

 

Apple Bake Recipe

This is a very light and nourishing dessert or breakfast.

4-to-5 apples, cored and chopped

3 Tbsp butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch of salt

1 splash of vanilla

Cut up 4-to-5 apples and place in a shallow baking dish. Cut up the butter and mix in with the apples, sprinkle remaining ingredients on top and cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

Serve warm with ice cream or cold for breakfast with vanilla yogurt.

 

Dr. Japa K. Khalsa received a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University and completed her Master of Oriental Medicine at Midwest College of Medicine. She is a board-certified and licensed Doctor of Oriental Medicine, and practices in Española, NM. 505.747.3368, drjapa@gmail.com, http://www.drjapa.com