By this point, you've probably heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka. SAD). It's a type of depression related to the change in seasons, typically striking during the winter. It's commonly thought to be related the lack of natural light exposure and vitamin D deficiency that occurs during this time.
Some people, however, experience SAD at other times of the year. I fall into this category and honestly, I really struggle in the summer. While the rest of the world is vacationing, hitting the beach and otherwise loving life... I often find myself feeling really sad, followed by intense guilt for not feeling happy during the summer, which leads to more sadness.
Maybe it's the Pitta (fire) in me, overheating. Maybe it's because I'm a perfectionist and tend to let the perfect destroy the good. Whatever the reason, between June and August I just have a really hard time.
But then along comes September, and the crisp air breathes new life into me. The sunlight is less intense, the city doesn't feel as stifling, and I begin to feel like myself again. However difficult my summer, I always know that I will find joy in the fall.
Cliche as it sounds, you really cannot appreciate the good times until you have trekked through some not-so-good times. I'm so grateful for autumn, for harvest season, and for all the good I know is yet to come.
My October began beautifully, at a retreat center outside Toronto. Last year I agreed to travel to Nirvana Retreat Centre the last weekend of September to cook nourishing, harvest-inspired meals for a wellness retreat hosting 12 amazing ladies. I'm so happy I made this commitment because the weekend didn't feel like work at all. Instead, I felt incredibly connected to myself, my passion, and my vision. As a holistic nutritionist, I find it easy to get caught-up in clinic work (seeing clients, creating nutrition plans) and forget how much I really love working with my hands and with food to provide nourishment for the people around me.
One of the breakfasts I made the ladies was a Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal, and it was a huge hit. This is one of my favorite fall breakfasts, since it's warming, comforting, simple, and delicious. As a bonus, it's a great breakfast to batch-cook and enjoy all week long. My favorite way to serve it is baked up in individual, single-serving baking pans and serve as a cozy morning meal.
I also love this breakfast because it contains way more protein and healthy fat than you'll normally find in a regular bowl of oats. It's packed with fibre for amazing gut health and even sneaks in a full serving of veggies.
The recipe is below and I hope you enjoy it! If you have any words of wisdom or a personal experience with SAD to share, I would love to hear them in the comments or in a personal message. These things are hard to talk about, but the more comfortable we become in sharing our truths, the better this world becomes.
- 2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free if needed)
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed (flax meal)
- 2 cups pumpkin puree (canned is fine!)
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any milk)
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds