Did you know that the healthiest cooking methods change according to the season?
According to natural medicine traditions, it’s not just what you eat that makes you healthy.
How you cook your food matters too.
Cooking methods matters so much, in fact, that they can mean the difference between feeling sluggish and overwhelmed to feeling enthusiastic and on-top-of the world.
And as an ambitious mama, this isn’t something you want to overlook.
Because you’ve got so many things that you want to do that it’s important that you’re in tip-top shape (in both body and mind).
It’s only when you prioritize your own needs that you you have the energy and stamina to do all the things you want to do in order to succeed.
But before we get into the details, let’s briefly talk about why the healthiest cooking methods change with the seasons.
If you want to live a truly healthy life, it’s important to think about how your body and mind are influenced by the environment around you.
So, to put it in the simplest possible terms, think about what happens to water when it’s really cold outside.
It freezes, meaning the molecules slow down and everything moves really, really slowly.
The same thing happens in your body.
If you’re exposed to cold, your body’s functions slow down too.
And the opposite happens with heat.
Just think about how much movement there is in boiling water!
So if your body is exposed to heat, things move faster and eventually scorch and burn.
On a purely physiological level, your body is composed of 60% water.
So you can see that these traditional theories are grounded in physical reality.
But traditional health and medicine systems were far more poetic and intuitive than the modern analytical approach.
The sages and wise-people who established these traditions observed what happens in the environment.
And they noticed that our bodies respond to our environmental influences without ever knowing what a molecule or cell even is.
They saw that as the weather changed around us, so did our inner state of being.
In the springtime, they observed that everything moves up and out.
The energy of spring is expansive, excited, and even aggressive as every living thing is fighting to establish it’s place in the world.
Then comes summer, when all the best plans have come to fruition and the whole world seems to be connecting and celebrating.
In autumn the energy starts to move back in and down.
Life slows down as the weather gets colder.
The trees let go of their leaves, and all living things begin to reflect on what they most need in order to survive, and what they can let go of to conserve their energy.
Then, in winter, everything seems to come to a standstill.
Activity is at its lowest point as living things try to consolidate and build up potential energy so they can flourish when spring rolls in again.
In order to stay healthy, balanced, and thrive throughout the year, you want to live in harmony with the environment around you.
And one of the best ways to do that is by using the healthiest cooking methods to balance out the effects of the season you’re in.
In spring you want to feel invigorated.
So it’s best to use light and quick cooking methods like steaming, quick boils, quick sautées, light braises, stir-fries, spring soups, lightly fermented foods, and begin incorporating a few raw foods (if you have a strong digestion).
Summer is hot so you want to stay cool and hydrated by using steaming, sautéing, blanching, simmering methods.
And if you live in a climate that is really dry in the summer use even more cooking methods that involve water.
Because cold food slows down digestion, summer is really the only time of year that it’s ok to have smoothies and cold salads on a regular basis.
Autumn is when things start to cool down.
So the healthiest cooking methods will be the ones that infuse food with more heat to keep your body from becoming too stagnant.
Longer cooking times using low temperatures are the name of the game here, so pull out that slow cooker!
Baking, blanching, frying, roasting, boiling, braising, stewing, and simmering are all great cooking methods for the fall.
And again, if your fall tends to be dry, use more cooking methods that involve water. If your fall is more damp and wet, use the oven more to infuse your food with more drying qualities.
And then there’s winter, which is the coldest season so you want to make sure you keep your core warm with warming foods.
Longer cooking times, roasting, baking, simmering, steaming, and water sautéing are all excellent choices when it comes to wintertime cooking methods.
Times of Transition
Finally, there’s a fifth season according to Chinese medicine, which is also alluded to in other traditions, and it’s the season of transition.
This is the in-between space when you’re not quite sure if it’s still summer or already fall, still winter or already spring.
It’s a bit of a wild-card season because technically spring and autumn also qualify as transition seasons.
But basically you want to emphasize these cooking methods anytime you feel ungrounded, or the world seems to be shifting around you at a faster pace than usual.
In order to stabilize yourself, you want to make food as easy to digest as possible.
And slow-cooked and pureéd foods will break down the food before it even gets into your digestive tract, so your body will have to work less hard to extract nutrients and you’ll feel more at ease as a result.
And that’s it.
You now know the healthiest cooking methods to help you thrive in any season.
Now I’d love to hear from you!
Leave a comment and let me know what kinds of foods you crave in different seasons.
Our bodies are naturally in tune with what they need, so you’re probably already eating seasonally appropriate foods intuitively!