Top 10 Autumn Munchies

Well, it's just about time to go grocery shopping again, so I'm cheating and turning my list into a post.

Likely due to evolutionary hibernation habits, every time autumn comes back around my appetite swings back into action. More often than not, I want carbs and more carbs, but I try to keep things in balance with some good fruit and veg too.

Here's what's at the top of my munching list this season:

1) Dark Chocolate
     Chocolate is pretty much a year-round thing for me, but there's something that makes me extra choco-cheery around fall. (Probably an anticipatory childhood holdover from the sugar-rush trick-or-treating brought each year...) I've started keeping a bar of 85% dark chocolate around the house to appease my seasonal sugar cravings, savoring just a square or two at a time. Looking forward to this little treat gives me a reason to avoid less satisfying sugar-bombs throughout the day -- though I can't say I always adhere to that reason!

2) Cider
    Yesterday I found a coffee shop here in New York which offers hot cider by the (plentiful) cup for about $3. As someone who's never quite developed a palette for straight coffee, this was a delightful alternative pick-me-up. If you really want to up your cider game, buy yourself some spices and get your wassail on. It sounds fancy, but it's easy to prepare, and it makes a classy addition to any holiday get-together.

3) Candy Corn
     Does this really need justification? I'll tell you one thing: I've learned not to let myself buy candy corn anytime beyond the month of October (and even then I usually limit myself to one bag.) Once those flood gates are open, it's a slippery slope toward year-round addiction. I'm also that person that loves candy corn in rice krispy treats or popcorn balls. Give me those tri-toned crack pockets in any form -- I can't resist 'em.

4) ABC Juice
    Apples, Beets, and Carrots are all at their best this season, and it's a great excuse to juice them for all they're worth. If you have your own juicer, combine 1 large apple with 1/4 beet and 1 large carrot. You might add a 1/2 inch of ginger if you want some extra kick! If you, like me, have precious little counter space and/or no money to put toward such a contraption, try sticking these items in the blender, then pushing them through a mesh strainer to bring out the juice. The extra pulpy bits might be a great addition to...

5) Quickbreads
     There's really nothing else I crave more this time of year than fresh-baked bread (of any kind!) J has been diligently baking a weekly whole wheat loaf for our sandwiches and toast, and it always surpasses the store-bought stuff to a laughable extent. I'm a dessert fanatic, so my baking exploits gravitate more toward quickbreads -- the stuff that basically tastes like cake. Pumpkin, carrot, and spice breads are fall classics, but I also like to mix things up with chocolate avocado-banana or zucchini walnut! For more texture, top your breads with roasted pumpkins or sunflower seeds. Mmmm....

6) Wild Rice and/or Lentils
     Stick these in a crockpot with lots of yummy veggies + stock and fuhgeddaboutit.

7) Sweet Potatoes
     You probably think your mom has the best Thanksgiving recipe for these bad boys, but the truth is, mine does.

8) Chai
    If you have not discovered the wonder that is the chai tea latte, I implore you to go to your local coffee shop right now, settle in with a book, and sip away. If you care anything for spice, I have no doubt you'll love it. Once you've attuned your palette, experiment at home to find the right blend of sugar and spice -- or make things cheap n' easy by purchasing a carton of Oregon Chai. Then -- when you're ready, young grasshopper -- find a restaurant like Taste of India in Seattle, order the bottomless cup, and prepare to shorten your life expectancy one whole-milky swig at a time.
9) Apples
     Another food that doesn't really need an introduction, autumn is obviously the best time to cook, can, or eat this fruit straight. A long-time subscriber to the PBnJ, I like to take slice extra-crispy apples up thin and put them directly into my sandwich in place of jam. It's a perfect complement to those days when you wish you were just back in 3rd grade, listening to your teacher read while you colored the afternoon away.

10) Pumpkin
    I couldn't very well end the list without addressing the squash that instigates sheer mania every September. While I've certainly fallen victim to the pumpkin love (Pumpkin Ravioli? Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels! Pumpkin Pop Tarts?! Trader Joes, what are you trying to do to me??!), this year a friend served me straight-up roasted sugar pumpkin with tahini, and I remembered why this vegetable is so incredible in the first place. I even spent the next day munching on the roasted seeds. Do yourself a favor this year and skip the processed stuff for the real thing!

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