The transitions from the big seasons to the little seasons are the most important times to be kind to the body and to support the digestive system; this means that September and March are great opportunities to take better care as the body prepares for a major shift in weather.
In Autumn we begin to draw a bit more inwards, though still have spurts of warm days and summer like energy. Take this chance to explore a food that bridges summer to fall: daikon radish.
Daikon literally means “big radish” in Japanese. This pungent, spicy food contains many benefits:
- Grated daikon provides many of the digestive enzymes already present in our system to break down namely fats, complex carbohydrates and proteins.
- Daikon prevents the formation of carcinogens namely found in processed foods and meats (this is why it is traditionally served with sushi and tempura in Japanese restaurants).
- Daikon is a diuretic and a decongestant, reducing inflammation or edema as it increases urine production, stimulating the kidneys, while also breaking down mucus in the chest, freeing the lungs from common fall allergies.
- Lastly, daikon when eaten with beta-carotene based foods (like sweet potatoes and carrots) improves the body’s ability to absorb this nutrient which is key in fighting SAD (seasonal affected depression) common in the latter months of the year.
Daikon peaks in the fall months, but can be found at any time in most health stores. Try this simple recipe adapted from Bahn Mi, the Vietnamese recipe that I’ve tweaked to include healthier ingredients and Ayurvedic fall spices. This dish can be eaten as you would a cole slaw, pickle or side dish.
DAIKON CARROT PICKLE (Bahn Mi in Vietnamese)
2 medium carrots
1 large daikon radish
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sucanat or turbinado sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
pinches of: turmeric, cumin, cayenne, coriander, sea salt
1 clean quart sized glass jar with lid
Scrub carrots and daikon well, do not peel (most nutrients are in outer layers). Grate with medium sized holes on grater or julienne with a mandoline or a very patient knife. This should yield about 3+ cups of carrot/daikon. Add a teaspoon of sea salt and place aside.
Bring to a boil the water, rice vinegar, sweetener and spices of choice. Be liberal with the turmeric and cumin and/or coriander, use cayenne to taste. Once boiled, turn off to cool to room temperature.
Once mixture has cooled, add 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar and stir. Place vegetables in the clean jar and pour liquid over until all carrot and daikon is covered.
Refrigerate immediately. Wait at least 1 hour before eating, but the longer the better. This recipe gets better over time and will last about a month or so. Experiment with levels of spice and other spices like ginger or changing the ratio of carrots to daikon.
*PS: you can quickly stir fry the daikon tops like you would chard or spinach, they have a slight peppery taste and are great with fish and/or fall grains.