Autumn Appetites: Apples

website apples

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

For many folks autumn in New England is all about the beautiful colors and the opportunities for leaf-peeping. For me, I adore that it’s apple season. Orchards abound with every type of apple you can imagine, and you can pick them right of the trees by your very self.

My favorite is a variety called, Honey Crisp, which is just as it sounds – crisp and sweet. For someone like myself who doesn’t use refined sugar, these apples are wonderful for making pies and cakes and cookies and for sauteing slices to put on top of pancakes, waffles and ice cream (or rather nondairy frozen dessert, in my case!).

The thing about apples, though, is that most of the fiber and nutrients which are healthy for you are in the skin which people peel and throw out. So, I like to make recipes which require using washed, unpeeled apples which will mean that me and my family will receive the many benefits one can receive from eating apples.

Some suggestions for whole apple eating:

1. Make baked apples:  Wash and core your apples and put them whole into a baking pan. Melt a little bit of vegan butter and mix it with a little bit of natural sweetener like agave or coconut sugar and spices like cinnamon or cardamom or ginger or nutmeg or allspice or orange peel or a combination and sprinkle the mixture over the apples. Pour some hot water into the bottom of the pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour, remove the foil, and bake the apples until they are fork-soft.

I usually can bake about 15 to 18 apples in a 9 x 13 pan, depending on the size of the apples, and I mix 2 tbsp of vegan butter with 2 tbsp of agave and 3 tsp of mixed spices.  To top the apples after they’ve cooked, I saute gluten free whole grain oats on the stove top with spices and butter and agave. (2 cups oats mixed with 4 tbsp melted vegan butter, 1/4 cup agave, and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp ground coriander.)

2. Make apple cake:  A lovely cake I recently developed using all that extra sorghum flour I have is:  Mix 2 c sorghum flour with 1/2 c garbanzo bean flour, 1 c gluten free flour blend, 2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 c coconut sugar.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 1/2 cup grated apples (keeping the peels on but draining the shredded apples in a colander for 5 minutes before adding the other wet ingredients) with 2/3 cup safflower oil, 2/3 cup milk mixed with 2 tsp lemon juice, 3/4 cup agave, and 3/4 cup liquid egg whites.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, quickly and thoroughly. Bake in a parchment paper lined 9 x 13 or 11 x 14 pan (depending on how high you want the cake) for 30 to 40 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Baking time may vary depending on the type and size of pan.

3. Make apple crisp or apple pie with the peels on the apple:  I have recipes for both on the site already. Both say to peel the apples because that is how we make them for company, but for home we keep the peels on and the crisp and pies are just as tasty and actually more filling.

4. Saute the apples: Wash, core and slice apples with the peels on. Put into a pan and saute over medium low heat with a couple of teaspoons of agave mixed with an equal amount of water and cinnamon and nutmeg. Usually within five minutes or so, the apples are fork tender and delicious for topping pancakes or waffles or cake or ice cream.

5. Make quick and easy homemade applesauce:  Cut up an apple with the peels on and put into a microwave safe bowl. Add spices of your choice and microwave until the apples are soft enough to chop up and mash (usually just a couple of minutes in my microwave). Mash up with a fork or in your food processor. Cool and enjoy.

6.  Make an apple sweetened squash or carrot soup: Roast chopped butternut squash and/or carrots with cut up apples with the peels on. Be sure that everything is cut to the same size so they roast equally. When the vegetables and apples are soft, cool them for a few minutes and then puree with a hand blender or processor, adding fat free, low sodium broth of your choice and seasonings like thyme or rosemary or onions or black pepper to add extra flavor. Warm the soup to the temperature you’d like, and enjoy.

7. Add unpeeled chopped apples to salads:  Put apple slices into your green leaf salad for added flavor. Add finely chopped apples to your tuna fish or chicken salad for some crunch and texture.

8. Eat the apples as are:  I like to slice the apples and eat them with little dabs of peanut butter on them. When my children need a snack after school, they will eat apples whole, enjoying the sensation of biting into a sweet, crisp apple. Sometimes on a cold day, I core an apple and microwave it to soften it a bit and eat the apple warm which is soothing and tasty.