Although fall does not officially arrive until Sept. 22, the winds of change have arrived in the form of less-crowded beaches, kids back at school, leaves falling off some trees and our gardens fading out.

I just planted some lettuce in my humble garden after pulling out the dead vegetation of my summer produce.

(Photo by Gloria)

The planting gave me a sense of renewal as I can now look forward to seeing new growth in my garden soon.

I also recently harvested hundreds of seeds from my mammoth sunflowers.

(Photo by Gloria)

The seasons are cyclical and keep us moving forward even when we don’t want to do so. I just love summer and miss it immensely, but I always have to let it slip away like a wave rolling back into the ocean.

When I release my grasp upon summer, I focus on enjoying the crisp air, bright sunshine and EVERYTHING pumpkin that marks this time through October.

The changing seasons keep us from a state of stagnation and offer wondrous opportunities to see beautiful things. For example, once Sept. 22 arrives, the chances to see the aurora borealis display increase for those who are located at high Northern Hemisphere latitudes.

According to NASA, the geomagnetic activities of the Northern Lights tend to take place in the spring and fall rather than in the summer or winter. While it is rare, sometimes people in New Jersey can see them.

As we celebrate the transition between seasons, let’s see what our members have been cooking up.

Colleen Orozco made a vegan salad that incorporates heirloom tomatoes, cucumber and coconut “bacon.” She found the coconut “bacon” recipe at The Minimalist Baker and warns you may develop a new craving for it.

(Photo by Colleen Orozco)

Tomato/Cucumber Salad with Coconut

Use beautiful tomatoes, sliced into bite-sized chunks. Try to include different colors if you can!

Peel cucumber and slice it into bite-sized chunks.

Arrange lovely bowls with the tomatoes and cucumber and top with a vegan ranch dressing and coconut “bacon” (see recipes below):

Vegan ranch:

1 cup of vegan mayonnaise

3 tablespoons of tahini

1/4 cup water

Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Handful of fresh parsley, and another handful chives, and another of dill if you have it!

2-3 garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Taste to adjust to your preferences :)

Coconut bacon:

  • 3 cups large, unsweetened coconut flakes (not regular shredded coconut!)

  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari(or other soy sauce)

  • 2 ½ tablespoons liquid smoke (any flavor, choose your favorite)

  • 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (optional).

Measure the coconut flakes out onto the baking sheet. Drizzle the coconut flakes with tamari, liquid smoke and maple syrup. Mix well. Spread the flakes into an even layer on the parchment paper.

Bake on the middle rack for 12 to 14 minutes, flipping halfway, until flakes are mostly dry and turning golden on the edges. (Keep an eye on the coconut as it can go from golden brown to deep burnt brown fairly quickly. For softer bacon, you’ll probably only need to bake for 12 minutes. For crispy bacon, aim for 14.) The coconut flakes will further crisp up as they cool.

Let the coconut bacon cool, then use it immediately or transfer to a freezer-safe bag. Coconut bacon keeps well in the freezer for several months. No need to defrost. Enjoy!

Marianne Wagner made a tasty slaw that uses tamari sauce. Since the sauce contains soy, try buying one that is organic or GMO-free.

(Photo by Marianne Wagner)

Zesty Red Cabbage Slaw

1 small red cabbage

1/2 cup of shredded carrots

1/4 cup lemon juice from 1 or 2 fresh lemons

3 Tbsp. organic tamari sauce (not soy sauce)

1/2 cup olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves

Slice the cabbage thinly using a sharp knife or mandolin.

In a jar, mix all the dressing ingredients and shake it well.

In a bowl, pour the dressing over the sliced cabbage and carrots and let it marinate for about 10 minutes so the flavors become more enhanced. Salud!

(Photo by Gloria)

As we enjoy the upcoming glorious weather, let us pause to remember all those affected by the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. May our thoughts and prayers bring comfort to all who will be reflecting on its somber 20th anniversary.

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