“The goldenrod is yellow,

The corn is turning brown…

The trees in apple orchards

With fruit are bending down.”

—Helen Hunt Jackson

The glorious days of autumn have arrived!  Suddenly the world is full of deep, distinctive colors such as burnished amber, brilliant scarlet and rich russet. The morning air is surprisingly cool, yet only hours later, brilliant sunshine brings the warmer temperatures we are so grateful for. These are days to truly savor, to play outside as much as possible, while the sun’s rays still warm the fields and farmer’s markets are filled with the glories of the season.

The last of the sweet corn, glossy eggplants, zucchini of enormous proportion, and juicy red tomatoes intermingle with bright orange pumpkins, creamy colored gourds, leafy bunches of deep green kale and shiny, first -of- the season apples.

Pale yellow Ginger Golds, dark and dusky Paula Reds and reddish-green early McIntosh will satisfy appetites longing for a crisp, crunchy and sweetly satisfying snack. There will be so many more varieties to enjoy as autumn progresses, including such well known favorites as Honeycrisp, Empire, Macoun, and Red and Yellow Delicious.

If your farmer’s market offers an heirloom variety apple, be sure to try a taste! Heirloom apples have unusual and unique flavors that are well worth investigating. In the September/October 2014 issue of Yankee Magazine, there is a delightful article about Ezekial Goodband, who is dedicated to reviving apple varieties from long ago.

Apples are a tremendous treat when eaten straight from the tree, and also act as a versatile cooking ingredient. As the weather turns colder, there is nothing quite so comforting as the smell of apples roasting in the oven, mingling with the spicy scent of cinnamon. Whether baked, poached, or sautéed, apples lend marvelous layers of flavor to sauces, salads, stuffings, coleslaw, pies, puddings, tarts, chutney, cobblers and crisps. Apples marry well with many other fruits and berries, including plums, cranberries, figs, raspberries and blueberries.

Apples enjoy an easy association with plenty of spices, including cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. For a quick and easy snack, slice an apple, place the slices in a plastic baggie, sprinkle liberally with cinnamon, close the bag and shake until slices are coated with the cinnamon. The apple slices will stay crisp and white for hours!

There is no question that apples are a delight to eat, but every apple supplies a bevy of nutritional benefits as well. Full of soluble fiber, apples can provide relief from both constipation and diarrhea, the fiber pulling water out of the colon to keep things moving, or absorbing excess water to slow things down. Regular consumption of apples may have some impact on reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as diabetes. Apples may also promote weight loss, reduce inflammation and help prevent heart disease, as well as helping to clean and whiten teeth!

Satisfy your appetite for apples this autumn as you prepare your delicious life!

Herb-Roasted Apples and Onions

(Superb with roast chicken or pork)

Makes 8-10 servings

4 cups apple cider

5 tablespoons butter

6-8 onions, sweet, red or Spanish (halved and then cut into wedges)

1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves stripped off stem and chopped

1 small bunch fresh sage, chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

6 -8 apples (whatever variety you prefer) peeled, cored, halved and cut into wedges.

coarse salt

black Pepper

Boil cider in a saucepan until reduced down to about one cup. Whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Preheat oven to 425. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment and butter the parchment. Toss onions with half of thyme and sage and 3 tablespoons of the reduced cider. Place onions on 1 baking sheet. Toss apples in same bowl with remaining thyme, sage and 3 tablespoons of reduced cider. Arrange on other baking sheet. Sprinkle both onions and apples with cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper.

Roast onions on upper oven rack for 10 minutes. Then place apples on lower rack and roast both onions and apples for 20 minutes. Drizzle remaining cider over both onions and apples. Reverse position of baking sheets and roast 20 more minutes.

Increase heat to 475 and let onions and apples roast until tender and caramelized, being careful not to let them burn, check frequently. Transfer onions and apples to a large bowl, season with salt and pepper.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing fresh, natural ingredients and super simple, extra delicious recipes. She also conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net. 

Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com