Late Summer and Earth Energy

Written by Milica (Millie) Milovanovic- certified Macrobiotic teacher and counselor whose life and work is dedicated to helping others help themselves.
Late summer represents the transition between spring and summer phase towards  fall and winter. Late summer is peaceful and blossoming phase; it is time of harvest when the element of earth rules. Energy of Earth is center of everything. It is the synonym of stability and the most balanced phase of the whole cycle of energy movement. Earth represents central energy, as well as self-preservation and stability.
Earth organs are spleen, stomach and pancreas. The highest activity of these organs during the day is late afternoon. Element of earth, which is represented in the body by earth organs, influences the center of organism (that which is stable and permanent); on that way the element of earth balances all four seasons. Earth energy is the most powerful during seven and a half days before and after each equinox, winter and summer solstice, which represent some type of tampon zones between seasons.
Color of late summer is yellow. Naturally sweet flavor supports this phase, relaxes the body and enables us to feel comfortable and nourished all the way to the essence. Stewing is a way of cooking that warms up and relaxes.
Strong and balanced earth energy allows us empathy for the emotions of others. With this kind of energy we are careful, and we have inborn feeling to maintain direction in life. 
When this energy is out of balance we fall into abyss of self-pity, unable to succeed in any area of life. Dreams become important for us, but we have no way of realizing them. We expect to fail in anything that we attempt to do. When we lack this energy, or when it is blocked, we demand the empathy of people around us. We feel abandoned and vulnerable if others don’t give us attention the way we expect it. We become very worried about our health and we distance ourselves from others. Isolation makes us cynical and doubtful of sincerity and goodness of our friends.
As the imbalance grows, we are becoming jealous of happiness of people around us and we see ourselves as victims in cold and insensitive world.  This imbalance, in its extreme, creates a need to consciously put ourselves in dangerous situations so we could get the attention of others. Physically, this imbalance in women manifests as accumulation of fat tissue in the lower part of rear and buttocks, and in the men in the middle part of the body (stomach area). In general, the muscles of legs are limp and weak.
Limp musculature is obvious on the face as well: we lack facial expression and the face is lightly puffy. The body movements appear unfinished, as we seem to lack the energy to bring the movement to an end.  We speak as we are lamenting, the sentences have no beginning and no end.
The question is: how to establish and maintain the normal flow of earth energy? To strengthen and balance the energy of earth we need to consume the food that supports the earth and fire element. 
During the late summer, consume grains like millet and corn, beans like chickpeas, and vegetables that grow close to the earth, have round shape and are full of seeds, like squash and cucumbers; food that is round and has its leaves wrapped around its center like cabbage;  string beans, green peas, parsnip, carrots and fruits like melon, cranberry, blueberries, grapes, mandarins, apples, almonds…Food preparation should be very simple, with less spices as possible, so it can have mellow taste; use unrefined olive, sesame and other good oils.
Late Summer Recipes:
Hot & Sour Soup
¼ lb seitan shredded
½ Tbsp soy sauce, plus additional to taste
1Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp kudzu +1tsp
2 Tbsp sesame oil ( optional hot pepper sesame oil)
1 onion
1 broccoli stalk, peeled and cut into fine matchstick pieces
4-5 shitake mushrooms
4-5 button mushrooms small
6 cups water
1/2lb firm tofu, cut into tiny cubes
2 Tbsp umeboshi vinegar
2-3 scallions
Cut seitan into matchsticks and place in a medium bowl. Combine soy sauce, mirin, kudzu and sesame oil in a small bowl. Toss with seitan pieces. Set aside.
Over medium flame, heat sesame oil in a soup pot. Add onion, sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes.
Add mushrooms and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in seitan, sauté briefly. Add water, cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Stir in broccoli and tofu cubes. Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes. Stir in dissolved kudzu until soup thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove soup from heat and season lightly with vinegar to taste. 
Serve hot garnished with scallion.

Parsley Lime Rice
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
Pinch sea salt
½ cup fresh parsley
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
Place the rice into a heavy pot. Add the water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer on a low flame for 45 minutes
Meanwhile, in a blender combine parsley, lime juice, oil, garlic and 2 Tbsp of water; blend until smooth. Stir into cooked rice, and fluff with chopsticks.
Chickpea Stew
½ cup chickpea soaked overnight
2cm piece of kombu
1 onion diced
1 carrot diced
1 cup squash cut into squares
2 celery stalks diced
1 tsp cumin
chili pepper flakes (optional)
1Tbsp white miso diluted in a little water
sea salt
cilantro and ginger for garnish
Place the kombu, onion, celery, squash, carrots and chickpeas into pressure cooker. Cover with water and bring up to pressure on a medium flame. Cook for 45 minutes on a low flame. Remove from the heat and take down the pressure.
Season with cumin, sea salt, white miso and a dash of shoyu. Add a dash of chili peppers, mix gently and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve garnished with cilantro and fresh ginger.
Cabbage Slaw
4 cups finely shredded cabbage
 ½ lemon juice
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1-2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
Place the cabbage and sea salt into a bowl. Mix gently with your hands for a minute or so ( this helps to stimulate the release of enzymes). Add the lemon and olive oil and mix. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes ( mix from time to time).
Add fresh basil and serve.