This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, which for most people is a reason to lament. Soon, those long sunshine-filled days, lazy weekends out of town or lounging at home, and wardrobes consisting of everything flowy will be replaced by an urge to move inside, to retract, to cover. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy some aspects of summer, but in my heart of hearts I’ve always been a fall girl, so I’m personally thrilled for the change of season. The energetic back-to-school feeling of new beginnings piques my type-A personality interests, and the natural instinct toward inward- instead of outward-gazing suits my introspective, introverted mindset. As we’ve been treated to a sneak peek of fall weather this week in NYC, I’m practically giddy about the fact that I’ll be wearing my sweaters and tights in no time. One of the best things about fall in my opinion is the seasonal cuisine. We live in a world where most ingredients, kinds of ethnic cooking, and spices are around all year long, which is great in many ways but also prevents most people from enjoying a natural change in diet in tune with the land we live on. If you live near a farmer’s market, you may be inundated over the coming weeks with apples, winter squashes, pumpkins, and other seasonal fare; but you can also go down the street to the grocery store for tomatoes and blueberries whenever you choose. I’ve been making an effort to eat more seasonally this year, especially since I’ve started an Ayurvedic lifestyle. According to this eastern holistic philosophy, each individual should eat according to their primary constitution, or dosha, but also keep in mind that the body will crave what’s growing according to the weather. Hot outside? That’s why you thirst for juicy watermelon to quench your insides. Bundled in your parka? That’s why a creamy, rooting, warm curry will make your tummy say ahhhhh. My primary dosha is vata, characterized by the elements of space and air. In order for my body to stay in balance, then, I need to focus on foods and practices that are in opposition, earth and water, so that the airiness doesn’t become excessive and aggravated. When I learned this, everything about my autumnal preferences seemed to click: the root vegetables literally plucked from the ground, warming spices, and heartier cooked meals that come out this time of year are my favorites, and as it so happens are also perfect for my constitution. When it comes to warming spices, cinnamon is no doubt at the top top top of my list. It goes in most everything I eat, from oats to hummus to sauces, in amounts that range from dashes to tablespoons-full. To me, it’s the perfect combination of sweet and spicy and usually prevents me from having to add extra sweetener to my meals as a result. It’s also a spice universally suited to all Ayurvedic doshas because of its well rounded properties: vata, pitta (fire), and kapha (earth) should all included it in their diets.* Today, there are many different kinds of cinnamon available in most supermarkets and at relatively inexpensive prices, which makes it much more accessible than its relatives cardamom and nutmeg. That doesn’t make it any less valuable in terms of health benefits. Loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories (partly why it’s good for all constitutions), it is a natural healing spice that’s been shown to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, which makes it beneficial for those at risk for heart disease and/or diabetes. Cinnamon oil can also help fight fungus and bacteria, among many other scientifically-backed properties.** All that aside, cinnamon is just plain delicious. So if you’re looking for reasons to get excited for fall, and for cinnamon, here are my top 5 ways to add this versatile, hygge-approved spice to your seasonal menu, or really anytime of year when you’re craving something warm, comforting, and deeply nourishing. Gut-Friendly Fig and Berry CompoteMedicine, disguised as dessert
Spicy Cranberry HummusA festive twist on a classic dip for your next party or not-sad desk lunch
turmeric Maca Mocha LatteSip your way to anti-inflammatory, superfood nirvana
Sugar-Free Cardamom BreadHave your cake and eat it too in a guilt-free, spice-tactic anytime-of-day treat
Superfood Chocolate SmoothieAnother drink that tastes so good, you won’t believe it’s good for you
Creamy Butternut Squash CurryOne of my favorite recipes of all time, this big-batch dinner will keep you full and happy for days
If you make any of these or a cinnamon-centric dish, snap a pic and tag #benourished on Instagram! I’d love to see your creations. *To find out more about your dosha, there are several online quizzes that guide you through many characteristics. You should consult a certified Ayurvedic or other medical doctor, though, before starting a dietary or skin care regimen, as the scope of these quizzes is limited.**Many studies cite proof from animal testing, which is why I’ve chosen not to describe them in detail. Nonetheless, the advancements in these areas of discover is exciting and worth noting if you have a certain condition.