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Have you heard of the six flavors? Each flavor is known in Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India) for different qualities and elements. Each of the six flavors has its own unique medicinal properties that can be honed and fine-tuned within your eating. Often known as the taste of satiation, the combination and balance of all six flavors are said to give you the feeling of not only being satiated but being satiated well.
More About the Six Flavors of Ayurveda
Before diving into some delicious fall foods full of flavor, here is a peek into deeper descriptions of the six Ayurvedic flavors:
- Sweet: Sweetness is considered a nourishing flavor—from homemade desserts to foods that turn into sugar such as rice or bread. When used wisely, sweetness soothes the body and heart.
- Salty: Salt maintains the electrolyte balance in your cells. The salty flavor is said to amplify and harmonize the other flavors bringing out the best flavors of a meal.
- Pungent: Foods such as hot peppers, garlic, and ginger are considered pungent (or spicy) in flavor (also known as spicy). Pungent flavors are said to clear the sinuses, improve circulation and boost energy and metabolism.
- Bitter: Bitter is experienced in foods like kale, turnips, and chocolate. Bitter foods detoxify the body.
- Sour: Citrus, green grapes, and fermented foods such as vinegars and pickles are known for their sour flavor. Sour foods support a strong and healthy digestion. The sour flavor is also known to invigorate one’s appetite.
- Astringent: The astringent taste is a flavor that provokes dryness in the mouth resulting in a somewhat chalky sensation. Astringent foods are often found in foods high in tannins—in the bark, leaves, seeds, and outer skins of fruits and trees. Imagine the flavor of an orange peel, pomegranate, peas, saffron, or vanilla.
Now is the perfect time to visit any of your local farmers’ markets to pick up fresh, seasonal produce that you will fall in love with. Let’s take a peek into these five fall foods full of different varieties of these flavors.
Flavors: Pungent and sweet
Ginger’s warming quality makes it a perfect addition to many of your fall recipes for this year’s harvest time. Ginger is a potent root vegetable that is chock full of medicinal properties. Ginger is used worldwide for its full flavor and healing properties. Along with its high level of antioxidants and antimicrobial properties, eating more ginger has been linked to health benefits such as reducing arthritis and inflammatory conditions, soothing digestion and combatting diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
One study looked at the various healing properties of ginger and found antimicrobial properties strong enough to fight E. coli and salmonella. Ginger contains several elements that have antibacterial and antifungal effects.
Notably, this makes ginger a wonderful food and flavor to include in your fall meals—especially to keep your immune system strong and vital as the weather changes into fall.
How to enjoy: Try grating ginger and gently boiling in water for 15 minutes to create a medicinal tea. Simply add some lemon and honey for an immune-boosting tonic. Throw a lightly chopped piece into your morning smoothie or juicer. Try adding some ginger into your favorite stir-fry or soups.
Sesame Ginger Stir-Fry with Quinoa
Try this delicious and warming bowl of goodness for dinner, with plenty of room for your favorite vegetables, hearty quinoa, and protein of choice. The ginger (and sriracha) add just enough heat to tantalize your taste buds while also boosting your immunity for the fall. Enjoy!
- 1-inch grated ginger
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 cups of chopped stir-fry vegetables (such as broccoli, snap peas, cauliflower, red or green peppers, and carrots)
- 2 cups of leafy greens of choice (such as kale, spinach, mustard greens, swiss chard)
- 2 cups protein of choice (organic chicken or tofu recommended)
- 1 tablespoon avocado or coconut oil (for cooking)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 pinches of sea salt
- 3 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 tablespoon of sriracha (optional for spicy flavor)
- 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds
Chop your desired protein into bite-sized pieces and sauté with your cooking oil and a pinch of salt.
Stir in a pan or wok over high until cooked. Place cooked protein off to the side.
Using the same pan, add a bit more oil and sauté garlic and ginger for about one minute. Add your vegetables of choice with a pinch of salt and sauté until tender (3–4 minutes). If the pan dries out, add a touch more oil or a splash of water.
Once the dense vegetables are cooked, shut off the heat and mix in your leafy greens for just a minute until they wilt.
Combine your protein, vegetables, and cooked quinoa into a bowl. Toss with sesame oil, tamari, sriracha, and sesame seeds. Serve warm.
Flavors: Bitter, pungent and sweet
Turnips are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, grown in moderate climates around the world. Turnips are a root vegetable, with earthy delightful flavors that get sweeter with cooking. Turnip greens can also be eaten; prepare similar to any other green.
How to enjoy: Try turnips cooked into your favorite dinner soups or hearty stews. Roast them until golden brown (recipe below) or simply enjoy grated raw over your favorite salad.
Simple Autumn Roasted Turnips
The delightful mingling of the flavors of roasted turnips is a sure way to celebrate the fall season. Roasting turnips brings out the sweetness and softens the bitterness at the same time. Try as a substitute for roasted potatoes to change things up this fall. Gluten-free, paleo, and vegan.
- 3 medium-sized turnips
- 4 tablespoons of avocado oil or ghee
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 sprigs of chopped fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Chop your turnips into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl.
Pour in avocado oil or melted ghee, sea salt, pepper, and thyme. Roll gently in the bowl until the turnips evenly coated.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the turnips onto a baking pan and leave excess oil in a bowl (if the turnips are coated well).
Roast for approximately 30 minutes. Add extra sea salt and pepper to taste.
Flavors: Astringent, sour, and sweet
Have you tried a seasonal local apple recently? The combination of flavors—astringent, sour, and sweet—makes for a delightful palate explosion. With an array of health benefits that include heart health, cancer prevention, and stabilized blood sugar levels, apples are a tasty and versatile fruit that you’re sure to love this fall.
How to enjoy: The best thing about apples is that they taste great as is. Likewise, apples make a great on-the-go snack, especially along with a handful of nuts. Honeycrisp apples are tasty lightly cooked to top off a warm bowl of steel-cut oats, with a dash of ghee and cinnamon, for a soothing fall breakfast. Bake into a delicious crisp combined with other fall flavors (recipe below) such as cinnamon and ginger.
Grain-Free Apple Ginger Crisp
Nothing says autumn more than apple season. This delicious and guilt-free dessert is a wonderful way to enjoy your favorite varieties of apples. The warming flavors of ginger and cinnamon are just right to add even more fall flair to this tasty sweet treat.
Ingredients for Fruit Filling:
- 4 ripe apples
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot flour
Ingredients for Crisp Topping:
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2/3 cup desiccated coconut
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, butter, or ghee
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350.
Slice apples evenly, about a quarter-inch thick, and add to a baking dish (approximately 8" in diameter if circular or 8"x8" if square). Toss with spices and one tablespoon of arrowroot flour.
Prepare the crisp topping by combining all ingredients together using a fork.
Bake for 40 minutes; let cool before serving to allow the fruit to thicken.
Flavors: Pungent, bitter, and sweet
Do you like the popular sweet and spicy spice cinnamon? Cinnamon is used in many dishes in cultures far and wide. Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a variety of trees that belong to the genus Cinnamomum.
How to enjoy: Cinnamon is an easy (and forgiving) spice to cook with as it is delightfully sweet and warming. Cinnamon goes well with homemade pies, smoothies, teas, warm cereals, and baking.
Spicy Chai Green Smoothie
Try the Spicy Chai Green Smoothie below as a nice way to enhance your morning smoothie with warming flavors of fall.
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 cups room temperature or lightly chilled, unsweetened ginger and cinnamon rich chai tea (brewed or concentrate)
- 12 oz. non-dairy milk
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
- Extra fresh cinnamon or ginger to taste
Add these goods into your blender and blend for 30 seconds until smooth.
Flavors: Bitter and astringent
Kale is known as a superfood because of its incredibly high antioxidant levels and outstanding ORAC value (oxygen reactive absorbance capacity)—the scale that measures the antioxidant capacity of a food.
Kale is versatile and easy to cook. If you want to power up your plate this fall, explore the many ways to include kale in your diet.
How to enjoy: Try adding baby kale to your green smoothie. Roast it in the oven into delicious kale chips (recipe below) or add it to your favorite soup or stew right before serving as to gently wilt it, preserving its brilliant bright green color.
Roasted Kale Chips
Do you crave salty and crunchy snacks? If so, give yourself a snack-shapeshift with these simple and fun kale chips. Packed with nutrients, yet perfectly crunchy and salty. Use as a side dish to any meal or eat as a snack for on-the-go days.
- 1 bunch of kale
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast (optional)
Destem the kale and rip into bite-sized pieces. Place the leaves on a cookie sheet and coat the leaves in warmed coconut oil (liquid) and tamari, and then place in the oven on broil. Watch carefully as they can crisp up quickly, depending on your oven.
After approximately 2 minutes, toss. Then leave in until desired crispness (usually about 2 more minutes).
When it’s done you will have crisp tasty kale chips—a great addition to any meal or a snack!
There are endless foods and flavors of fall to explore—each food and flavor with a unique nuance to entice your palate. Enjoy savoring the many fall flavors, refining your senses, and elevating your eating this season.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
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