Of all the seasonal festivals, the Autumn Equinox is one of my favorites. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the warmth of it, the coziness of it. It’s easily one of the more comforting seasons, a time of year when we reflect on what we’ve done and experienced, to look forward to the next year. We’re nearing the turning point in the cycle of life, going from the vivacity of living to a time of rest and regeneration. Autumn is a time for reflection and gathering, of truly appreciating what we have in life.

Some of my favorite foods are autumn foods. Colors as well as flavors are vibrant, cheery, and welcoming. Pumpkins, naturally, come to mind almost immediately. Excellent in stews or mashes, they can be so much more than a healthy addition to pie, breads, and other sweets. A pumpkin risotto can be a unique twist on cooking with pumpkin. Apples are another wonderful fall food, terrific by themselves or used in both savory and sweet dishes. Sweet potatoes are one of my all-time favorite foods; I’d take them over regular potatoes any day. They’re so versatile and extremely good for you, being full of Vitamins A and C, as well as being a low glycemic food. Kale is an unsung hero as far as autumn foods are concerned, even though it’s well-known as an immunity booster. It can also be eaten in a variety of ways, from kale chips to stews to simple salads.

With all this in mind, here are some more specific suggestions for foods to help celebrate the coming of Autumn.

Soups are always good for the Autumn festival, particularly a warm, cozy soup to get you ready for the coming cooler weather. I’ve lived in warm places most of my life, so fall temperatures are still up in the 80’s most of the time. But a good soup always puts me in the mood for fall. It’s what I prefer for my Autumn Equinox meal. This year, it’s a Moroccan Sweet Potato Soup, but other varieties are good too. Try Cock-A-Leekie for something a little different. Or a creamy bowl of beautifully-colored Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Or, for a meatier dish, go for a beef stew with autumn vegetables. Roast beef is another great autumn dish, for that matter. It doesn’t have to be fancy or too involved, either. A simple slow-cooking method is all you need for a really delicious roast of beef.

For side dishes, think earthy. Mushrooms are a personal favorite. Mix them up with some rice for a flavorful pilaf. Or, if you’re roasting beef, throw them into the crockpot too. Saute ’em up, get all those wonderful juices out. Corn is another wonderful vegetable that’s coming to a peak just in time for the Autumn festivities. Add some queso fresco to it for a unique take on roasted corn. Squashes, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes are all veggies that can simply be boiled and mashed and served along side any roast meat you like. Simple to do but so delicious.

Breads are wonderful to have on the Autumn table. Fall and winter always bring out the baker in me – there’s something so comforting about baking during these cooler months. For a breakfast bread, try something with pumpkin and cranberries. Muffins work too! Or if you’re looking for something to eat at the table (say, with a soup or stew), try a honey wheat bread. Wonderful for sopping up broth or even using as sandwiches for leftover roast. Even a simple whole wheat bread can bring a lot of heartiness to the autumn table.

If baking isn’t your thing but you want to enjoy the comforts of a well-baked bread, buy a nice loaf and spread some apple butter on top. Apple are a wonderful accompaniment to any Autumn celebration, and making apple butter couldn’t be simpler; it just takes some time and effort! Or you could just do like I do and buy it at the store. It’s just as good.

For dessert, pies are a sure win. Pecan pie, for me, is more traditional for Autumn than for American Thanksgiving. Save the punpkin pie for Samhain; sweet potato is a nice fit for Autumn. And keeping in my the plethora of apples available at this time, any dessert featuring apple is sure to be welcomed. For a twist on the upside-down cake, go with apples instead of pineapple. Even a simple apple pie can be a tasty treat for the end of an Autumn festival meal.

Whatever you do to celebrate your Autumn Equinox, enjoy it and this wonderful, warming season. Blessed be.