Healthier Apple Crisp

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Apple crisp is a fall favorite, and it can be a healthy one, too. I made this version low in fat by cutting over half of the butter and replacing it with applesauce. This particular recipe makes more of a granola topping, rather than the traditional buttery crust, but it is delicious.

The key to making this recipe good for heartburn is to use mostly red apples (which have a higher pH than green apples and thus are easier on the throat) and throw in one green apple for tartness. I used a mixture of red, green, and tan apples that a friend picked at the orchard and left at my house. I’m not sure where tan apples fall on the spectrum of acidity, but I come across them so rarely that I’m not going to worry about it.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 or 4 large Gala apples
  • 1 green apple
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp whole-wheat white flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat white flour
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp applesauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Core and thinly slice the apples, measuring them (about 10 cups) and placing them into a 9 x 13 inch glass baking pan.
  3. Mix the sugar, 1 tbsp flour, spices, and pinch of salt in a medium bowl, and sprinkle the mixture over the apples. Stir to coat.
  4. Combine the oats, 1/4 cup flour, almonds, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, melted butter, applesauce, and salt, and use a fork to mix well. Use your fingers to sprinkle the mixture evenly over the apples. 2014-10-09 15.55.25
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.
Serves 8. Active time 25 minutes; total time 70 minutes. Adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/healthier-apple-crisp-ii/

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Pumpkin-Applesauce Muffins

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Looking for a good use for a little bit of canned pumpkin? This recipe uses only half a cup, and it’s combined with applesauce for sweetness. I tried several variations on this recipe, and this version had the best texture. Adding chopped apples never led to a good result, but use chunky applesauce if you’re looking for a bit of fruit in your muffins.

These are low in fat, and the sprinkle of pumpkin seeds makes them feel special. If you don’t have any seeds, though, chopped almonds would work just as well. Either crunchy topping will complement the spices and the soft, carby muffin goodness.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat white flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly. Mix in the oil, pumpkin, applesauce, milk, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together both flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices until blended. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until incorporated.
  4. Pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup. Sprinkle the surface of each with pumpkin seeds, and press them gently into the surface of the batter with your fingers. 2014-10-15 18.24.05
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Makes 12. Active time 15 minutes; total time 35 minutes. Adapted from http://www.hannaford.com/recipe/Sunny-Double-Apple-Muffins/11102.uts#

Golden Apple Granola (The Leftovers Club)

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Homemade granola is such a treat. As soon as I learned how to make apple chips, I wanted to incorporate them into my favorite quinoa granola recipe. I like to serve this sweet concoction over chopped pears and top it with a dollop of vanilla yogurt. It’s a balanced but fancy breakfast.

I sent this granola to Johanna of Notes From a Messy Kitchen for this month’s edition of The Leftovers Club. Great minds think alike; she sent me a scrumptious, walnut-filled carrot cake granola that I will definitely be making soon. If you like to bake and to receive mail, consider joining us next month in The Leftovers Club!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten free if desired)
  • 1/4 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried apples, chopped

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Stir together the oats, quinoa, almonds, brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.
  3. In small bowl, combine the applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and toss to coat.
  4. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, and then remove from the oven and add the raisins. Stir well, breaking up the largest chunks of granola so they cook all the way through. IMG_5480
  5. Bake for 20 additional minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Stir in the dried apples. Cool completely and store the granola in an airtight container.

Makes about 5 cups. Active time 20 min; total time 50 min (plus time to make dried apples). Adapted from https://lowacidyum.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/ginger-granola-with-red-quinoa

Baked Apple Chips

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These apple chips have a deep, fabulously sweet, almost winey flavor. They’re so good that I had to hide them in the back of the pantry to stop myself from plowing through the entire batch (four apples’ worth) in a day. What a healthy snack, and they’re such a delight.

Apple chips purchased in a store usually have oil and citric acid added. The acid makes them a GERD trigger, and the oil is unnecessary. Baking your own apple chips takes time, but if you’re going to be home doing laundry or reading, it doesn’t take much effort to flip the apples once.

My favorite way to make these is plain and with the skin on, but they’re also delicious peeled or with a dash of cinnamon. Baking these for 2 hours creates chips that are crispy on the outside but a tad chewy on the inside (depending on how thinly you can slice them).

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 to 4 Gala apples
  • cinnamon (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Wash and dry the apples, and if you wish, peel them with a vegetable peeler.
  2. Turn each apple so that your knife goes through the equator. Starting at the bottom, make very thin slices. When you get to the middle area, shake out and discard the seeds.
  3. Line two extra-large baking sheets with parchment paper. Lay the apples on the sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. IMG_5454
  4. Put the sheets in the oven, and use the handle of a wooden spoon to keep the door open a bit. Bake the apples for 1 hour.
  5. Flip each apple slice and bake for another hour, keeping the wooden spoon in the door. IMG_5458
  6. Turn off the oven, but leave the apples in there until they cool—at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Store apple chips in an airtight container.

Makes about 4 cups. Active time 15 minutes; total time 3 hours, 15 minutes. Adapted from http://www.wikihow.com/Dry-Apples

Life Alive: The Alchemist Demi Bowl

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I am beyond in love with Life Alive, a vegetarian restaurant and juice bar in Cambridge. The ambiance is pure hippie, with a kale dispenser on the wall and free ukulele performances in the basement. And the food is phenomenal! I don’t know what they put in the sauces, but they make a bowl of vegetables and grains more craveable than I thought it could be.

You can order any dish on the menu over a quinoa mix or as a wrap. Bowls come in regular size and half (demi) size. I recommend the demi bowl if you also want to try something from the juice and smoothie bar. On this visit I had the Thrive Alive, a juice with carrot, apple, and ginger.

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My favorite meal at Life Alive is The Adventurer, but I’ve also enjoyed the Green Goddess. This time I wanted to branch out, so I had The Alchemist: a mix of corn, kale, carrots, sprouted legumes, sesame seeds, and Ginger Nama Shoyu sauce over quinoa. The Ginger Nama Shoyu sauce is by far the best on the menu, but I’ve never had a bad meal here. Everything is flavorful, and I feel energized after ingesting so many vegetables!

As long as you don’t overeat and you avoid the juices with citrus, Life Alive is a restaurant win. I’m sure the sauces contain some garlic, but it’s not overpowering and has never caused me problems. I recommend bringing visitors (who aren’t meat-obsessed) here to give them a food experience they may not expect to find in the Boston area.