The Energetics of Squash & Pumpkin

Now that we’re well in to Autumn, I thought it might be nice to write about a great season food – Pumpkin and Squash.

When we look at a food through the lens of Chinese medicine, we’re looking at the foods ‘energetics’, or in other words, the particular qualities that it has in terms of how it will effect your Qi when you eat it. This is a great way of seeing whether or not different foods will suit you – there’s no such thing as a good or bad food per se,  as everyone is different.

Winter Squash of all varieties (and including pumpkin) are gently Warming, so ideal for Autumn and Winter. Their Sweet flavour indicates that they are nourishing and strengthening foods, and the colour orange and round shape link them with the Earth element. No surprise then, that they are Qi tonics, and especially good for strengthening the digestive system.

They can be used as a general tonic, especially when there are IBS, bloating after eating, indigestion or similar digestive problems. They are also useful to restore strength during convalescence.

The easiest way to use squash or pumpkin is to make it into a soup – I’m not a big fan of pumpkin soup, but squash soup is particularly good. Adding a few herbs and spices will make it tastier, and more Warming. It’s easy to make and there are loads of recipes online. You can also steam or boil the flesh, and it’s very tasty roasted.

Pumpkin and squash also have the effect of clearing Phlegm, and a traditional recipe calls for boiling pumpkin with beef to make a stew, which is used to strengthen the body, enhance resistance, and treat coughing up of thick sputum. Add some onion and garlic, and cook in a good broth, maybe with some thyme to enhance the phlegm-clearing action. Delicious!

Nutritionally, squash and pumpkin are very high in the antioxidant vitamins A and C and is also a good source of potassium and manganese, along with a good spread of other minerals, vitamins and omega-3.