Friday, October 21, 2011

Let's Celebrate National Apple Day!


This time of year orchards, produce sections, farm stands and markets are brimming with apples!  From bright green to gold, from red to dark crimson, there are so many delicious varieties of apples to choose from!  (In fact, I'm munching on an organic Honeycrisp as I write!)
So today, on National Apple Day, it’s a great time to visit your nearest organic apple orchard to pick your own apples or visit a farm stand or market and buy a bag or two!  And to help you make a decision on how to prepare some of them, I’m going to share my FAVORITE version of applesauce. 
This Chunky Baked Applesauce is no ordinary applesauce, it’s hearty, even a bit chewy with caramelized bits of apples bathed in the warm, earthy spices we think of when we imagine the perfume of apple pie – aromatic cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg . . .
So if you love apple pie, here is a super simple, no grains involved, very nutritious version that is fantastic served warm or cold any day of the year!  You can even make extra and freeze it for a no fuss dessert or side dish.
Below the recipe you will find more nutritional info on the apple because it seems that an apple a day really does help keep the doctor away!
Without further ado from my first cookbook . . .





CHUNKY ROASTED APPLESAUCE

This is definitely not like any applesauce you’ve ever eaten . . . roasting the apples brings out so many rich caramel flavors in the big chunks of slightly chewy apples. It is a great accompaniment to spicy chicken or soy sausages as a side dish and it is also a simple but elegant dessert when served alone or topped with some Coconut Whipped Topping or Very Vanilla Ice Cream and a dusting of cinnamon . . . it is most definitely not your Mother’s applesauce!
Yield - 8 cups

5 pounds organic apples
2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg 
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger 
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup 
1 cup Calvados or apple cider

I like to use a mix of Granny Smith, Macintosh, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Rome and/or Fuji, but you can use any mix of organic apples available to you.
Wash apples in pH 9.5 ionized water or purified water and soak for a few minutes. 

Cut apples into 3/4 inch pieces and place in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. 

Sprinkle spices and honey over apples and toss to distribute. Place in a 375° oven. If you have an oven with a convection fan this is a great time to use it. The goal is to dry the apples out a bit, allowing the sugars in the apples to caramelize a bit. This takes about 45-60 minutes. 

When the apples are lightly browned (some of the peels will be dark and leathery looking), pour 1/4 of the apple liquor or cider over, stir, return to the oven, reduce the heat to 250° and bake until apples break down into a chunky sauce. Stir every 30 minutes and add 1/4 cup liquid as needed, baking about 1 1/2 hours longer or until the sauce is thick yet apple chunks remain.

I take advantage of the bounty of Washington’s fall apples by making several batches and then freezing in pint jars.



Now if that recipe isn't enough to make you want to eat some delicious apples, here is some valuable info on their amazing health benefits!  As I said earlier, there seems to be some scientific back up to the notion that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Crisp and crunchy apples of all varieties contain fiber, pectin and a group of flavonoids known as polyphenols.  These polyphenos act as antioxidants that are especially effective at protecting the fatty cell membrane (aka the phospholipid bilayer) from free radical damage.  This means that the antioxidant properties in apples are not specific to one type of tissue but work to promote health in all cells of the body!

Scientific studies have shown that the specific combination of fiber, pectin and antioxidants in apples helps lower LDL cholesterol (the bad variety) and triglycerides, balance blood sugars by slowing down our absorption of carbohydrates while making insulin receptors work more effectively,  lowers the risk of cancer – especially lung and breast cancers, decreases the risk factors associated with asthma, lowers the risk of many age-related maladies like Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration and bone loss, and it is a great appetite suppressant!  
Apple pectin has been used in natural medicine as a potent toxin eliminator.  It seems pectin has the ability to absorb large quantities of toxins from the colon and carry it out of the body!
So whether you are crunching on a Honeycrisp, munching on a MacIntosh, baking a Braeburn or grinding up a Granny Smith in a smoothie, go ahead, celebrate the day with a sweet, juicy organic apple!


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