Apples and spice make autumn so cozy and nice

A dash of spice and your autumn apples will become a lovely chutney.

A dash of spice and your autumn apples will become a lovely chutney.

TinaMarie Craven/ Hearst Connecticut Media

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

October days are often filled with brilliant sunshine, still warming fields and forests, while energized by the snap of crisp, cool autumn air. As leaves take on shades of burnished amber, brilliant scarlet, deep burgundy, shimmering gold and rich russet, one is inspired to breathe in all the beauty of autumn.

Autumn crops are vibrant and varied. Local apples are at their peak, in an array of colors and flavors, inspiring conscious cooks to create delectable apple recipes. Whether sweet or savory, apples can be a healthy and happy addition to autumn meals.

The many varieties of Connecticut grown apples will inspire much cooking and eating a pleasure! Pale yellow Ginger Golds are wonderful for applesauce, as are cheery red Cortlands. Crunchy, sweet Honeycrisp, Gala, Rome, Fuji, Macoun, Empire, Newtown Pippin and McIntosh are just perfect for snacking, as well as for baking and roasting. Mutsu, Paula Reds, Red and Yellow Delicious and Granny Smith add their special flavors to cheese trays, as well as compotes, salsas, soups, stews, stuffing, coleslaws, salads and chutneys.

An apple a day may actually keep the doctor away. Enjoying one orchard fresh apple a day can provide the body with many health benefits, including improved memory. Apples are a luscious source of dietary fiber, which may help weight loss and digestive issues. Full of fiber and phytonutrients, consuming apples may help lower blood cholesterol, improve bowel function, and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, asthma, Type II diabetes and some forms of cancer. Regular apple consumption may also clean and whiten teeth.

The scent of apples bubbling away on the stovetop or baking in the oven, sprinkled with cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg is spectacular. Combining apples with cranberries, figs, plums, blueberries, and raspberries will yield particularly pleasing desserts such as pies, tarts, cobblers, crisps, cakes and breads. Sauteed apples are an excellent low fat topping for pancakes, waffles, frozen yogurt and oatmeal.

Take advantage of the crisp days of autumn to pick apples, eat apples, and cook with apples. And make apples part of preparing a delicious life!

Apple Chutney

Makes 2 cups

3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil

2 apples

½ sweet onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic minced

1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider

1/3 cup white or dark balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons golden raisins

2 tablespoons dried cranberries or blueberries

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

¼ cup chopped toasted pecans or almonds (optional)

Heat oil in a saucepan. Saute onion over medium heat until golden and translucent. Add garlic and continue to cook for a few more minutes, until garlic is just starting to soften. Add remaining ingredients, except nuts, and continue cooking, stirring often, until apple is very tender, dried fruit is plump and soft and cider has boiled away. If fruit has not softened enough and cider has boiled away, add more cider and continue cooking chutney until soft and tender. Add in nuts just before serving. Serve warm or chilled.

Chutney is excellent with grilled pork, baked ham, or as a dipping sauce for chicken tenders. Or spread toasted baguette slices with goat cheese or cream cheese and top with chutney. Also excellent with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener, and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and Columbia University Teachers College.