Ever since the 2003 release of the pumpkin spice latte, when the weather starts to cool, the flavor blend starts popping up on just about every shelf in the grocery store. Just what is it about this flavor that gets the masses excited?
The pumpkin spice blend we know today originates from the Maluku islands, aka the Spice Islands. It is a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove, with countless variations. As an herbalist, all four of these spices are warming and Yang in nature.
There is a reason our bodies crave this flavor profile in the cooler months. Our digestive system operates better when it is warm, and having to contend with sub 60 temperatures makes its job more difficult. If the digestive system becomes too cold, it results in sluggish digestion: bloating, acid reflux, and weight gain to name a few.
On top of that, your energy levels are drained to supplement the digestive function, causing tiredness in the morning or afternoon and sometimes headaches. If the cold continues to invade the digestive system, it will deplete the body’s “Wei Qi,” or defensive qi, aka the immune system. If Wei Qi is low, it causes chills, a dislike of being in the wind, and an increased chance of catching a cold.
For these reasons it is important to have proper nutrition and eat seasonally in cooler weather. Winter squash and sweet potato make for great side dishes that nourish the digestive function. Here is a recommended recipe that satisfies the pumpkin spice craving.
Pumpkin Spice Squash
Serving Size: 4
Cook Time: 40-60 minutes
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
Place the squash on the lined baking sheet and score it on the outside, cutting a few shallow lines into a tic-tac-toe pattern. Drizzle the olive oil over the squash and massage it in, making sure to cover the entire outside of the squash.
Mix together all the spices and sprinkle onto the fleshy side of the squash. Flip them face down, skin side up, to bake for 30-45 minutes. Bake until they are easily pierced by a fork, and top with a little butter or maple syrup. Enjoy!
Lauren Peabody L.A.c.