Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of diet and health, categorizes foods with a particular taste that correlates to its digestive action. This taste is not a coincidence but is a direct result of the biochemical traits of the food and therefore also of its pharmaceutical properties. There are six tastes that we experience: sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, salty, and astringent. When all six of these tastes are delivered in a meal the body is satisfied and won't go searching for what it is missing. In a meal as diverse as Thanksgiving dinner it is easy to create a menu using all six tastes.
Begin the meal with a Butternut Sage soup topped with crisply fried sage leaves, which combines the sweet, bitter, salty flavors. Right away you ease the sweet craving and will eat fewer desserts at the end of the meal. Sweet is the first taste we experience in the form of our mother's breast milk. It is no wonder then that the sweet taste is one we crave to the point of addiction to refined white sugar and its products. Complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains, some vegetables and legumes are considered sweet; and if you include more of these kinds of sweet tastes in your diet you would eat far less of the refined sugar foods.
The rest of your menu might include: Herbed wild rice stuffing with walnuts, dates and celery (sweet, bitter, salty), Free-range organic roasted turkey (sweet, salty), sweet potatoes mashed with butter and maple syrup (sweet), kale sautéed with olive oil and garlic (bitter, pungent, salty), orange-cranberry sauce (sweet, sour), arugula salad with apple cider lemon vinaigrette (bitter, sour, astringent), and chocolate pecan pie (sweet, bitter).
When a meal contains all six tastes, particularly sweet and bitter, then the cravings for sugar and coffee subside. The slow cooking of the wild rice in water allows for better fluid absorption and hydration, the roasted turkey is a protein source and its tryptophan can sedate you after eating to excess. The mashed sweet potatoes provide vitamin A and support spleen-pancreas, while the sautéed kale provides needed calcium and magnesium, and is also high in sulfur and a rich source of chlorophyll, iron and vitamin A. The miracle of garlic acts as an anti-fungal, viral, and bacterial agent for the immune system and is balanced by the orange-cranberry sauce, which supports kidney-bladder. The raw arugula greens enhance the enzymatic stomach digestion and the vinaigrette consisting of raw apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and a pinch of sweetener helps to alkalinize the blood, support the liver and increase the beneficial micro flora in the intestines.
All these benefits and more can be found in your Thanksgiving meal, but really these nutrients are what you can receive each day, with each meal, when you eat a wide and diverse menu of foods and make the choice to eat to live rather than live to eat.
Butternut Sage Soup Recipe
Yield: 8 servings
1 - 3 lb. butternut squash
6 cloves garlic, not peeled
1/4-cup olive oil
18 whole sage leaves
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 Tbs. sage, chopped
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
6 cups vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees,
cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
Lightly oil the squash halves with olive oil.
Place them, cut side down, on a baking sheet and tuck the garlic cloves into the cavities of the squash.
Bake until tender, about one hour.
When cool enough to handle scoop out the pulp and place it in a medium-sized bowl with the peeled garlic cloves and any juices from baking.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy soup pan and fry the sage leaves until speckled and darkened, about 1 minute.
Remove to a paper towel to drain, set aside.
Add the onions, chopped sage, thyme, and parsley and cook over medium heat until the onions have begun to brown, about 12 minutes.
Add the squash, garlic, stock and salt to taste.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
Purée in a blender when cool enough to handle or use a immersion wand.
Serve immediately with toasted pine nuts and the fried sage leaves crumbled on top
.For a different taste, you can also add some grated soy parmesan or Fontina cheese while soup is hot.
Delia Quigley is a holistic health practitioner, author of seven health books and an experienced yoga instructor. She also teaches the exquisite science of preparing whole, organic foods to support and strengthen the mind, body and spirit.