autumn is here and brought along wonderfully quiet days with fog in the morning and mild sunshine later-on. Our skin has adapted to the cooler temperatures, our hair has gone through another change and we are trying to adjust our food to the external conditions.
Nature as always takes care of us and if we care for nature and take what it provides we will always nourish ourselves in the proper way. Now is the time of hearty soups, steamed vegetables instead of cold salads and some additional carbohydrates to keep our motors running (we now need to fire our inner oven in order to keep the body warm). There is pumpkin available, all sorts of cabbage, turnip and other kinds of root vegetables, apples are ripe as well as nutritious nuts.
Having spent some time lately in the beautiful mountains of Northern Italy I couldn’t help but literally stumbling over another “vegetable” – actually a favourite of mine: the chestnut. Hiking paths in the dolomites are paved with this delicious brown essential food – the bread of the poor, which in former times was mainly worked into flour. Chestnuts combine nearly all essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They make part of the slow resorbing carbs, which means that our blood sugar level rises slowly and we stay satisfied for a long time after a chestnut meal.
So I asked myself: are chestnuts also Ayurvedic? Since they are alcaline and acid reducing and binding – yes, they are. They are good for our nerves, lower blood pressure and regulate the heartbeat through a high content of B-Vitamins. Chestnuts contain a surprisingly high quantity of Vitamin C, which is great for our immune system as well as for our continuous fight agains Cellulite. They help us to stay slim and increase the good HDL cholesterol while lowering the bad LDL cholesterol.
Their high content of potassium as an alcaline mineral helps to neutralize excessive acid in our organism. Even Hildegard von Bingen was known to cure irritations and inflammations of the stomach and intestine with a mash made from chestnuts. Combining them with other alcaline foods increases the “Chestnut power” and makes them even more valuable.
Probably one of the most important characteristics is that chestnuts are completely gluten free! And since chestnuts can be found and used in all different kinds of ways (flour, chips, flakes, bread spreads, chestnut milk and so on) this natural power food can be extremely useful for people suffering from a gluten intolerance.
On the www you can find detailed instructions about how to prepare chestnuts, how to conserve them as well as an infinity of recipes. Chestnuts can be frozen and thus be kept throughout winter for nourishing meals. Following a wonderful, warming and nourishing Ayurvedic recipe for cold autumn days. The spices used in this dish also help to strenghten the immune system and to keep colds away from us.
One last thing you would surely like to know: are chestnuts good for all Doshas? Since they are highly nourishing they are definitely an excellent food for all VATA types, helping them to keep the digestive fire burning, to stay strong and not be prey to colds and other winter illnesses. PITTA can for sure profit from the calming effect of these little brown miracles. As for KAPHA: as with all carbohydrates and highly nutrient foods keep the portions small. Instead of using chestnuts in rich soups rather add a few of them to a winter leaf salad.
CHESTNUTS WITH PUMPKIN CURRY (serves 4)
-300g peeled chestnuts, 750g Hokkaido pumpkin, 1 medium size onion, 2 pieces of garlic, 4 tbsp raisins, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp dried thyme
-1 dash turmeric, 1 dash freshly grated nutmeg, 1 dash paprika power, cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp curry powder, 300ml white wine, 400ml vegetable broth, coarse sea salt
Cook the chestnuts in vegetable broth. Peel onion and garlic and but to fine slices or cubes, steam them in olive oil. Add the pumpkin pieces, raisins and ready cooked chestnuts.
Add the white whine and all the spices. Cook on low heat until the pumpkin is soft.
Remember in addition to perfect food enjoy a lot of fresh air doing outdoor sports or long walks!