“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 suffused with deep, distinctive color as leaves turn shades of burnished amber, brilliant scarlet and rich russet. The morning air is surprisingly cool, yet only hours later, brilliant sunshine warms our world. These are the days to truly savor, to play outside as much as possible, while the sun’s rays still warm the fields and forests and the great glory of the autumn harvest begins.

Autumn’s bounty is vibrant, varied and especially delectable. Apples of all varieties are now available at farmers’ markets and supermarkets, including  pale yellow Ginger Golds, dark and dusky Paula Reds, reddish-green early McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Empire, Macoun, Gala, Red and Yellow Delicious that will satisfy appetites longing for a crisp, crunchy and sweetly satisfying snack.

Apples are a tremendous treat when eaten straight from the tree, so try to schedule a family excursion and go apple picking at a local orchard. Be sure to call ahead to find out if picking is available and what time your family will be welcome for this wonderful fall activity.

A versatile cooking ingredient, apples marry well with both sweet and savory components.  Combining apples with plums, cranberries, figs, raspberries or blueberries will yield particularly pleasing desserts, such as pies, puddings, tarts, cobblers and crisps. Whether baked, poached or sautéed, apples lend marvelous layers of flavor to sauces, salads, stuffings, coleslaw, and chutney.

Nothing is quite so comforting as the weather turns cooler, than the scent of apples roasting in the oven, mingling with spicy cinnamon. Apples enjoy an easy association with all manner of spices, including allspice, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. For an extremely easy to prepare snack, slice an apple, place the slices in a plastic baggie, sprinkle liberally with cinnamon, close the bag and shake until the slices are well coated with cinnamon. The apple slices will stay crisp and white for several days in the refrigerator and make a great grab and go nibble!

There is no question that apples are a delight to eat, but every apple also 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 waste moving through the system, or absorbing excess water to slow things down. Regular consumption of apples may have a positive impact on reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, as well as diabetes. Apples may also promote weight loss, reduce inflammation and help prevent heart disease, as well as cleaning and whitening teeth!

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

Herb-Roasted Apples

Superb with roast chicken or pork; serves 8-10.

4 cups apple cider

5 tablespoons butter

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

1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves stripped off the stem and chopped

1 small bunch fresh sage, chopped

1 tablespoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

6-8 large apples (Gala or Honeycrisp would be very nice) halved and cut into wedges

coarse salt

freshly ground black pepper

Boil cider in a saucepan until reduced to 1 cup of liquid. Whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss onions with half the thyme and sage and 3 tablespoons of the reduced cider. Place onions on one of the baking sheets. Toss apples in the same bowl with remaining thyme and sage and 3 tablespoons of reduced cider. Arrange apples on the other baking sheet.  Mix cinnamon, ginger, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and a bit of salt and pepper, then divide and sprinkle over onions and apples.

Roast onions by themselves in the oven for fifteen minutes. Then place sheet with apples in oven and roast both for 20 minutes. Drizzle remaining cider over both apples and onions and roast for 20 more minutes, reversing positions of baking sheets. Continue roasting until tender and caramelized, being careful not to let them burn. Remove from oven when cooked to your liking, season with salt and pepper if desired.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health 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, delectable recipes. Robin conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for private instruction. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net