Autumn Appetites: Apples and Pumpkins

“Change is bad….”

My youngest went trick or treating for the first time without his parents last night. He had fun with his middle school friends, trick or treating as a group, eating pizza at the Halloween party, playing games in the dark. He laughed and played and enjoyed himself. Then… he came home and cried because he realized the Halloween traditions of his last twelve years didn’t happen because he had gone out with his friends instead of with his parents. And as is typical with children on the autism spectrum, he made this blanket pronouncement: “Change is bad!”

Change is bad. How often do we feel and think that? Even as adults whose life experiences have taught us that change can be good, we can feel uncertainty and anxiety creep up on us when something in life changes. Often, the change has to prove its goodness as opposed to us believing its potential good from the onset.

As you can imagine, I took the time last night to speak to my son about the many changes he has had in his life which were good and pointed out that last night’s change enabled him to have a really good time with his friends which he wouldn’t have had if he hadn’t “changed” by growing and becoming a middle schooler who wanted to hang out with his friends instead of his parents. He, of course, remained skeptical, but I trust that, as with my older two, someday my words will resound as reasonable and not gobblygook.

For those of with food allergies that appear later in life, change can definitely seem bad. Suddenly, the foods we’ve loved, we can no longer eat, and we now have to learn a whole new way of eating which includes new foods, new ways of shopping, and creating new recipes. It can feel overwhelming and just plain bad sometimes. Trust me, I know! The last few months of accidents, family health issues, and two too many deaths have created food comfort cravings, and what I wouldn’t have given to be able to eat one of my son’s Reese’s peanut butter cups last night!

On the other hand, though, developing food allergies later in life has expanded my repertoire of new food experiences, new recipes, and new opportunities for being creative, to do a different type of work, for establishing new networks and relationships, and to add support to community life. The good outweighs the bad.

Autumn presents a similar tension for folks… the changing colder weather means heavier clothes, shorter, darker days, and the coming of snow-storm filled, winter months. It also brings Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas, though, and wonderful foods like apples, pumpkins, kale, winter squash, and opportunities for eating those more cold weather foods like stews and holiday foods like tortes and pies.

This week, we had apples and pumpkins from neighbors’ gardens as well as our own to use up, so I decided to “change” what I usually make with apples and pumpkins (apple crisp and pumpkin pie) in favor of trying something new and different. So, I made an apple brownie, which is different from a chocolate brownie but tasty nonetheless, and a pumpkin gingerbread trifle because I had leftover gingerbread muffins from a workshop. Both treats were thoroughly enjoyed by the folks who benefited from my willingness to think that change could be a good thing!

Apple Brownies


2 cups gluten free flour blend (I used King Arthur’s whole grain version)

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup vegan butter, melted

2 cups coconut sugar

eggs equal to 1/2 cup (2 or three, depending on the size of your eggs)

3 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced into thin slivers

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the melted vegan butter, sugar and eggs.
  4. Stir the chopped apples into the dry ingredients, and then add the wet ingredients, mixing well until everything is moistened and incorporated.
  5. Spread the mixture into the lined pan and bake for about 30 minutes. The brownies will be puffed but will settle when it cools.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle


two cups pureed, cooked pumpkin

24 oz unsweetened plain or vanilla flavored coconut yogurt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp agave

container So Delicious dairy free coconut whipped cream

cut up pieces of gingerbread cupcakes Gingerbread Cupcakes

Assembling Instructions:

  1. Mix the pumpkin, coconut yogurt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and agave together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Thaw the coconut whipped cream as instructed.
  3. In a deep round dish, layer according to the following: a thin layer of the pumpkin mixture, a layer of cut up gingerbread, a layer of the pumpkin mixture, a layer of half of the whipped cream, a layer of gingerbread, a layer of the pumpkin mixture, a last layer of gingerbread, last layer of the pumpkin mixture, and a layer of the second half of the whipped cream.
  4. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.