What’s “In Season” In The Dead of Winter?

During the past few months, I’ve become a little more familiar with the teachings of ayurveda. I had picked up a couple of books on the topic a while back; but after reading a bit, I was more confused than inspired. But my renewed interest was sparked first when I heard a lecture by Dr. John Douillard. The more I heard about one of his central guiding philosophies, ayurveda, the more sense it made to me. (You can check out his website at LifeSpa.com.)

Don’t get me wrong– I know relatively little about ayurveda, especially compared to someone like Dr.Douillard. And I freely acknowledge that there are too many theories about health & nutrition to count. What I discovered as I listened to this practitioner was that living according to seasonal considerations is right in line with many of my own observations & beliefs.

"Apocalyptic Angel" made by my artist husband, Scott Freeman-- fits right in with all the dead-looking things in my garden

“Apocalyptic Angel” made by my artist husband, Scott Freeman– fits right in with all the dead-looking things in my garden

So, if I want to eat seasonally, what in the world (or, in my case, in Colorado) can I eat now? I mean, my garden looks so dead! It’s about this time of year that I question whether any of my plants will survive at all, or whether anything will grow ever again in this town. After all, when it’s zero degrees outside & there’s not much sun, things can seem a little bleak.

This raised bed was actually producing kale, Swiss chard, & broccoli well into November.

This raised bed was actually producing kale, Swiss chard, & broccoli well into November.

Well, it is winter. Winter is one of the three seasons spoken of in ayurveda. But really, it seems that winter is very connected to fall. So, as I understand it, in winter we eat what we gathered in the fall, & what is still in the pantry, cellar, or whatever (& still in decent condition) until things begin growing again in spring. Looking around our house, that’s not much; but there are a few things left from the garden–mostly squash. I made a delicious spaghetti squash recipe earlier today. Also, there are nuts. I feel better knowing that all the neighborhood squirrels that steal my tomatoes in the summer are also sustaining themselves with this winter staple.

A little of the produce still left in my pantry

A little of the produce still left in my pantry

Our garden is small, so the rest is really theoretical; but there are beets, carrots, onions & garlic, cabbage, apples & pears. Kale & Swiss chard can be found easily, although I don’t know where they are grown.

But there is better news. According to Joshua Rosenthal, the founder & principal teacher at my school, winter is a great time for warming foods. My family loves chicken soup, beef stew, & other homemade dishes that we traditionally think of for winter. Using homemade bone broth, these foods are SO nourishing! And more good news: a wonderful companion to soups & stews is a lacto-fermented vegetable concoction.

My current selection of fabulous ferments

My current selection of fabulous ferments

If you’ve never heard of such a thing, I’d implore you to check them out on the web. People are using whey & other techniques to naturally ferment fruits, veggies & all sorts of things (not just yogurt & sauerkraut!) The resulting foods are nutritional powerhouses, & really delicious. And because these are preserved foods, they can be eaten during these months of relative scarcity. Take a look at wildfermentation.com, or google Caroline Barringer for info on fermenting foods. I will also have recipes forth-coming.

Never much of a purist, I will fill in my diet with things that might or might not be in season somewhere– oranges, coconut, avocado– while I primarily try to keep eating seasonal & local foods. What do you like to eat in winter?

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