It's that time of year again in the Midwest: autumn, my favorite of all the seasons. Apple orchards, back-to-school excitement and anxiety, pumpkins to carve and use to spice your lattes, hearty soups, sweater weather, and, of course, leaves cascading from the sky into piles on the earth. These are just a few reasons why I'm happy to live in the Midwest every September through Thanksgiving.
Fall is also my favorite time to share recipes. The flavors of the season are pleasantly variable and include a nice blend of sweet and savory. Unlike the sugar highs of the winter holidays, autumn favors a truly eclectic menu. To get into the swing of the season, I recommend dusting out your oven and baking a pie or mixing a stew on the stovetop.
Many patients have shared treats and recipes with me, and I find that I receive most of these suggestions in the fall. Experimenting in the kitchen brings many health and social benefits, and you should encourage your patients to give it a try. Food is always a popular topic, and engaging your patients in conversations that go beyond the usual hello-and-goodbye can help to foster trust, loyalty, and friendship. You may even find that your patients bring you some unsolicited treats. The best (and most frequent) example for me is working through a lunchless shift with the help of a patient's thoughtful gift of a warm spiced cookie. Snacks are the fuel that sustain us in the community pharmacy setting and can help forge a connection between patient and provider. Whether you are biting into a homemade apple dumpling or sipping hot caramel apple cider, simple pleasures can really motivate you as you make your way through your work day.
This autumn, I encourage you to print out your favorite recipes and leave them out for patients to see. Healthy or not, home cookin' is always better than fast food from the drive-thru. Having snacks on hand can also help spice up your typical counseling session. It’s also a great idea to prepare an extra batch of something savory and share it with coworkers to boost morale. Experiment with rustic flavors and take the leftovers to work for a shared snack. And remember, nothing tops off fall food better than a pumpkin spice latte. Most importantly, be sure to enjoy a time of year that compounds so many memories and flavors!
Laura’s Pumpkin Bar Recipe
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (can substitute 1/2 cup applesauce for 1/2 cup oil)
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13-by-10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.
To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.