“By all these lovely tokens

September days are here

With summer’s best of weather

And autumn’s best of cheer.”

— Unknown

September is a sensational time for enjoying the gorgeous array at local farmer’s markets. For conscious cooks, September is a delightful time for gathering ingredients that will showcase the fleeting flavors of summer. A walk among the burgeoning baskets filled with fresh produce is incredibly inspirational, acutely colorful and full of satisfaction!

Blazing scarlet tomatoes, sun-sweetened and fattened from their time on the vine, are joined by zesty green, bright yellow and almost-chocolate-colored varieties. Turn this rainbow into a final summer tomato salad by simply cutting thick slices of each colorful variety of tomato, and arranging them on a big platter. Drizzle the slices with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with a bit of crunchy sea salt and finish the dish with a flurry of finely minced basil.

Fill your shopping cart with crisp cucumbers, glossy purple or creamy white eggplant, pale green or buttery yellow summer squashes, string or wax beans, spicy jalapeno peppers, fragrant peaches, lush melons, sugary corn on the cob and great bunches of finely scented fresh herbs.

As the September evenings grow quietly cooler, take pleasure in preparing dishes that feature these ingredients, such as nutmeg-scented roasted peaches, a delectable eggplant parmesan or rollatini, velvety corn soup, garlic string beans or summer squash stuffed with ground lamb or turkey, breadcrumbs, fresh basil, oregano and parsley, cinnamon and bit of cheese. Cucumbers can be turned into simple refrigerator pickles, jalapenos can be roasted on the grill and packed away in the freezer, ensuring that a bit of summer will still be served as the season marches on.

There is also a hint of fall to be found at the farmer’s market. While all the summer crops are still available to be savored, the new season is sneaking in. Freshly dug potatoes, dark purple plums, crisp early apples, succulent pears, Brussel sprouts branches, earthy mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower and kale will provide culinary creativity for weeks to come!

Cooking and eating with the seasons is the most excellent and efficient way to introduce high quality nutrients into the body. When we enjoy what nature has prepared for us, we are giving our bodies the gift of exceptionally luscious flavor, along with pure healing properties. What better way to prepare a delicious life?!

Splendor of September Roasted Peaches

Serves 4.

1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 good-sized pinch of ground cinnamon

1 good-sized pinch of ground nutmeg

1-2 tablespoons vanilla or almond extract

4 ripe peaches, halved and pitted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss peach halves in lemon juice in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla or almond extract. Toss again, until well coated. Place peach halves cut side up in a 9x13 baking dish. Roast until peaches are tender, about 25-30 minutes. If the juices in the pan begin to burn, add a bit of water and cover pan loosely with foil and continue cooking until desired tenderness.

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 simple, delicious recipes. She 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.