In Chinese Medicine, late summer relates to the earth element and serves as a turning point from the hot, active summer season to the cooler, calming energy of fall. By taking care of our digestion and immunity now, we will stay healthier during the colder months.

Late summer is the ideal time to heal the stomach and pancreas. When our digestive organs are healthy and we maintain balanced gut flora, our immunity improves.

Strengthen pancreatic secretions or calm an ulcer by swallowing a spoonful of apple cider vinegar before a meal. Maintain balanced blood sugar by eating roasted sweet potatoes or baked spaghetti squash instead of white rice or pasta. Start to incorporate more warming foods like ginger, winter squash, cinnamon, fennel, and mustard greens to support healthy digestion.

May the recipes provided below inspire you to pack delicious, healing lunches for yourself and your loved ones.

Pumpkin Cashew Soup

You will need:

  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 can full fat, organic coconut milk (8 oz.)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 2 cups pie pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 1⁄2 cup roasted cashew nuts
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground coriander freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat coconut oil in a large stock pot.
  2. Add onion and sauté for a few minutes, until softened.
  3. Add garlic, ginger, pumpkin and cashew nuts. Save some nuts for garnish if desired.
  4. Cook gently for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the stock and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat, add coconut milk and simmer to 20 minutes, until pumpkin is tender.
  7. Place into a blender or use an immersion blender and process until smooth.

Serve with a garnish of cashews, if you like!

Lentil Beet Salad

You will need:

  • 1 pound red and /or golden beets, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups indigo or green lentils, soaked for 3 or 4 hours 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 red apple, chopped into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the beets on a baking sheet with oil and salt. Roast for 1 hour or until fork-tender.
  3. Bring soaked lentils and 4 cups of water to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, about 45 minutes.
  5. Drain, discarding liquid, and rinse through a fine-mesh colander.
  6. Place in a large bowl and toss with mustard, oil, vinegar, apple, honey and garlic. Add beets, toss once more, and enjoy!

Immune Soup

You will need:

  • 3 chicken legs, stew beef with bones, lamb shanks – leave meat out if you prefer A handful of astragalus root and/or codonopsis root
  • A handful of fresh or dried shitake or maitake mushrooms
  • 2 inches of rinsed kombu seaweed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 carrots, chopped into quarters
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped in half
  • 1 onion, whole with peel removed
  • 1 head garlic, whole with peel removed


  1. Add ingredients to a pot of water. Bring to boil.
  2. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, until any meat falls off the bones.
  3. Remove bones, herbs, any dried mushrooms and roots from the soup.

Now, you can add other vegetables and herbs, such as:

  • Aromatic vegetables like parsnips, turnips, mustard greens and leeks – these reduce congestion.
  • Orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash – these are rich in carotenoids, which support immunity and respiratory health.
  • Spices such as thyme, black pepper and oregano – these are anti-microbial and reduce risk of contracting a viral or bacterial infection.

Simmer the soup until everything is tender, then add more fresh garlic and ginger if you like. Taste for salt. Serve with a drizzle of your favorite oil and a whole grain.

Writer Lisa Mase is a culinary medicine coach, food writer, translator, and folk herbalist living in Vermont. For articles and recipes, visit Lisa at

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.