Best Fall Foods & Spices

Create a supportive fall diet.

One of the best ways to decrease vata imbalances in the fall is through diet, lifestyle, and herbs. Fall is the perfect time to focus on ROUTINE, WARMTH, SERENITY, and DEEP NOURISHMENT. 

I LOVE this time of the year. My nine-year-old son refers to fall/winter as “cozy” time. This is the season that we naturally tend towards hunkering down, cleaning house (internal and external), and preparing for the colder months. We may even feel an increase in our appetite and a desire for warmer, moister, and heartier foods such as soups, stews, and root vegetables.

Fall is the time to lube up and counter the effects of vata (dry, rough, cold, and hard). Favor warm, moist, unprocessed, organic (when possible), seasonal, plant-based, foods that are high in fat, protein and enhanced with warming herbs and spices. Massaging our skin with warm oils (abhyanga) is another way - working from the outside in. That’s another blog. 😉

In general we want to:

• Favor the sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Eat mushy, soft foods and garnish them generously with ghee or oil.
• Enjoy warm breakfasts of cooked grains—like oatmeal, stewed apples/pears, cream of rice, and cream of wheat.
• If you eat meat and eggs, this is one of the best time of year to enjoy them.
• Lunches and dinners that include steamed vegetables, hearty grains, soups, kithcari, and stews that are grounding and moisturizing.
• Dairy products and all nuts and seeds are also beneficial at this time.


Please know that Ayurveda looks at each person as unique. There is no “one size fits all”. Food charts are helpful for quick reference and for reminding ourselves about healing approaches.

The list below is based on what is generally in season, balances vata energy (which is the season of fall) and best for clearing the accumulated heat of summer. Most importantly is that you understand the WHY behind these suggestions.

In general, all food is easier to digest when it’s warm, moist, cooked, and seasoned. Cooking and seasoning helps to predigest food. Cold foods and drinks “turn off” the digestive tract. The belly works best on foods that match it’s environment- warm in temperature and moist, especially in the fall.

Culinary spices from every culture are herbs with medicinal properties that are meant to support digestion. This ranges from garlic to basil, to tumeric and ginger. Most spices that are warming in nature support digestion.

Most importantly, slow down and pay attention to how foods make you FEEL. Try to be aware how easy or difficult to digest your food is. You may have thought that rice cakes and nut butter was good for you, but actually this is a challenging combo for your digestion = raw, cold and heavy. This goes for raw veggies with creamy dressings. Just starting to pay attention, is the best place to start. What you thought was “healthy” may begin to shift when you start thinking about digestibility also.



• Apples (cooked) • Grapes • Grapefruit •Banana
•Lemons • Mangoes • Oranges •Dates
•Limes • Papayas • Prunes (soaked) • Figs
•Mangoes • Raisins (soaked) • Tangerines
• Oranges • Papayas • Avocados


• Beets • Onions
• Carrots • Pumpkins
• Chilies • Squash, Winter
• Garlic • Sweet Potatoes
• Okra


• Amarant • Oats
• Basmati Rice • Quinoa
• Brown Rice • Wheat


• Kidney Beans • Toor Dal
• Miso • Urad Dal
• Mung Beans


• Butter • Ghee • Yogurt
• Buttermilk • Kefir
• Cheese • Milk (not cold)
• Cream • Sour Cream

Animal Products (If You Eat Them):

• Beef • Duck • Oysters
• Buffalo • Eggs • Shrimp
• Chicken • Fish • Turkey
• Crab • Lobster • Venison


• Almond Oil • Peanut Oil
• Ghee • Safflower Oil
• Olive Oil • Sesame Oil


• Honey • Molasses
• Jaggary • Rice Syrup
• Maple Syrup • Sugar (Raw)

Spices (Most Are Recommended):

 •Allspice • Cumin • Rosemary
• Anise • Dill • Saffron
• Asafoetida (Hing) • Garlic • Tumeric
• Basil • Mustard Seed
• Bay Leaf • Nutmeg
• Black Pepper • Oregano
• Cardamom • Paprika
•• Cinnamon • Parsley


*This is the best food list I’ve found so far from Banyan Botanicals



In general, you’ll want to minimize your consumption of raw vegetables, hard, dry and frozen foods, as well as the bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes. Instead, focus on the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and warm, oily, liquid and cooked dishes.

Avoid foods like rice cakes, crackers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, leafy greens, white potatoes, beans, popcorn, crackers, dried fruit, and dry cereal…in a nutshell… dried anything. If you do choose to eat it, do so warmed, spiced, and/or oily. Remember, you are what you eat. Nobody wants to feel like a dried-up, hard, rough rice cake.😉

Get curious about what is showing up in the produce aisle of your local grocery store and farmers' markets. Chances are you’re not going to see watermelon and peaches, instead squashes, root veggies and ingredients to make soups and stews. Try to eat seasonally and locally if possible. Otherwise, focus on fresh, whole, and organic (if feasible).

Enjoy the tastes of the seasons and look for easy, one-pot recipes that are abundant during this time of year i.e.: soups, stews, kitchari, chile, etc.

Have fun!