Sweet Autumn Harvest

Working in my studio this afternoon, I paused to swivel my chair toward the windows. Golden October sunlight streamed into the room. Depending on one’s perspective, I was either distracted by the golden light…or invited outside by it. I chose to see it as a beautiful invitation. With October drawing to a close, and afternoons like this one becoming less common, it felt like an opportune time to move through the garden and harvest what I could.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

A Harvest of Sweet Produce

I didn’t change into gardening clothes, so sure was I that a stroll through the garden would satisfy my longing to be outside. Wearing a nice paisley shirt, vest, jeans and boots didn’t deter me though. Soon I was elbow deep in the raised veggie bed, digging up sweet potatoes.

What a great harvest this year! Sweet potatoes piled up in my red tub. I can’t wait to prepare and eat these sweet veggies in the coming days. I’ve already earmarked recipes such as sweet potatoes with braised red cabbage, chili roasted sweet potato fries and cardamom and coconut milk mashed sweet potatoes.

It is incredibly satisfying to me to tuck these little plants into the dirt in the spring, and harvest food during the summer and fall. I plucked a green pepper and a handful of cherry tomatoes from the garden as well. One tiny pepper remained on the last pepper plant, however my volunteer tomatoes vines are heavy still with green tomatoes.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Herbs Abound

Most of my herbs are still flourishing. In fact, they are lush with new growth. Sage, lavender, basil, lemon grass, lemon balm, bee balm, chamomile, mint, dill, thyme and rosemary are available for teas and recipes.

The fragrant plants released their scents as I stopped to touch them and pull a few weeds. I feel such peace in my Backyard Paradise, such love. Lemon balm won me over this afternoon. I snipped sprigs of the bright green herb for tea time.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Bringing the Vintage Flowerpot Indoors

Finally, I examined the vintage flowerpot, and made a decision. This container is almost as old as I am. (Read its story.) It has rested for many years in various spots around my front deck and garden. Instinctively, it feels like it’s time to move this treasured keepsake indoors. I fear a hard freeze, after a rain, could damage the flowerpot and that would make me sad.

Resting on my potting table, the ceramic container received a good scrubbing on its exterior and a new plant to cradle. After removing the faded moss roses, I transplanted a Purple Heart plant into the pot. This seemed fitting, as the container came to me from my mom years ago, and the young plant did as well, last spring.

I discovered that the snake plant I had intended to grow in the container is poisonous to cats. Purple Heart is a safer alternative and thrives well indoors. The freshly cleansed and potted container has a new home next to my little entryway table, where it can continue to bring me joy.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Harvest Smile

William Cullen Bryant wrote, “Autumn, the year’s last, loviest smile.”

Autumn offers the loviest smile, indeed. The very air shimmers with magical golden light that seems to ignite a kindred glow within my heart. I love this season of the year, this sweet time of harvest and brilliant colors and the soft sighs of nature as it prepares to sleep.

I’m grateful I turned my chair to appreciate the sunlight. And I’m ever so grateful that I accepted the invitation to venture outdoors.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Sweet Potatoes with Braised Cabbage

This time of year, with its cooler, shorter days, I appreciate food that comforts and nurtures, without compromising my health. This colorful and nutritious meal is so satisfying, and it is not only full of flavor but full of health benefits as well.

This recipe comes from Life-Changing Foods, by Anthony William. In his second book, Anthony writes about 50 of the best foods to eat to heal and maintain health and wellness. Each chapter lists the benefits of the food and what conditions and symptoms it eases, and there are even sections on how that particular food provides emotional and spiritual support. For every food listed, there is a wonderful recipe to try. This book has been invaluable to me.

Sweet potatoes promote productive bacteria in the stomach, small intestine and colon, while starving out unproductive bacteria and fungi. These more colorful cousins of regular potatoes enhance the body’s production of vitamin B12. They are also packed with carotenoids, which are extremely powerful and protect against a host of cancers.

Sweet potatoes also rid the body of unusable, cancer causing estrogen that interferes with hormone function. And if insomnia is an issue, this potato will aid in a sound night’s sleep.

I’ve always enjoyed sweet potatoes, which made me an oddity as a child! As an adult I quit adding additional sweetness, in the form of brown sugar or marshmallows, nor do I douse my orange spuds in butter. I most often eat a baked sweet potato plain, with sprinkles of sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper. However, this easy to prepare recipe is a wonderful way to dress up my sweet potato in a healthy way.

These are so delicious. I love the tangy sauce that tops the stuffed sweet potato. Anthony writes that if you need some coddling, there is nothing more comforting than a baked sweet potato. I agree!

And this comfort food will not have an adverse effect on my body. What I have known in my life as comfort food rarely provided anything more a sugar rush or an excuse to overeat and twinges of guilt. Not so with the humble and benefit packed sweet potato.

This recipe will be prepared frequently this fall and winter.

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