Making Fall’s Favorite Fruit Even More Delicious … and Healthier
September 2020 Issue
By Chef Lynn Michelle
Photography by TR Love, TR Media World
No matter how you slice them, apples are one of fall’s favorite—and healthiest —fruits. Nothing signals the start of fall more than a visit to an apple orchard, the sweet taste of caramel apples and hot apple cider … or the smell of a freshly baked apple pie warming in the oven. As the old English proverb reminds us, nothing could be healthier than enjoying an apple a day! Whether eating them whole on-the-go, or as a key ingredient in a delicious, savory dish that is sure to make you the apple of someone’s eye.
So what is behind the apple’s appeal? In addition to being packed with a wide variety of different flavors and textures (tart, sweet, mild, crunchy and crisp just to name a few), apples are also bursting with distinctive and amazing health benefits. According to USApple (www.usapple.org), a nonprofit organization representing the nation’s 7,500 apple growers, as well as 1,000 individual firms in the apple business, “recent research link apple nutrients with promising results that suggest “a link between apples and weight loss, brain health, including Alzheimer’s disease, certain forms of cancer, lung and heart health and stroke.” In addition, apples are an excellent source of dietary fiber and a healthy source of antioxidants, which is linked to the prevention of many diseases. How ‘bout them apples?
In addition to all of these health benefits and being uniquely refreshing and delicious, apples are low in sodium, fat and cholesterol and a great source of vitamin C. This alone makes them, quite simply, just about the perfect fruit – and the perfect centerpiece of so many great, healthy “apple-themed” appetizers, entrees and desserts.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes using a variety of sweet, savory—and healthy—apples … with an added twist. With some simple substitutions, the following recipes provide great gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan dishes that are sure to be a hit with your health-conscious family and friends.
Baked Hassellback Apples
Gluten Free | Vegan | Vegetarian | Sugar Free
2 tsps Cinnamon, divided
1 tsp Nutmeg, divided
1 tsp Splenda
1/2 cup Gluten free flour
dash of Salt
1/2 cup Whole grain oats (optional for Gluten free)
Lemon juice to prevent browning
2 large, firm Apples, such as Honey
Crisp or Pink Lady
9 Tbsps Unsalted Butter, divided (Vegan Butter-optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use middle rack. Peel (optional) the apples, cutting each in half through the stem. Place peeled apples in a lemon water bath to prevent brown-ing. Cut slices in the apples, leaving the bottom intact. How do you do this? Place the apples cut-side down on a cutting board. Cut parallel sliced into the apple, ¼ inch apart, stopping just before you cut through the bottom of the apple. This keeps the slices connected at the bottom of the apple. Coat a medium baking pan with cooking spray. Place apples into the pan; flat side down. Melt 4 Tbsps butter, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, and ½ tsp Splenda. Brush apples and between slices with the melted butter mixture.Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Make the Streusel Topping: Cut the remaining cold 5 Tbsps. unsalted butter into small cubes. Place in small bowl and add the remaining Splenda, cinnamon, nutmeg, gluten free flour, oats and dash of salt. Blend with a fork to form small moist clumps. Once ap-ples are done, uncover and divide the streusel into 4 parts, placing each part onto each apple—between the slices and leave on top. Place apples back into oven un-covered for about 15 minutes, or until Streusel is golden brown. Serve with Ice Cream (sugar free and vegan are available!)
Homemade Apple Sauce
Gluten Free | Vegan | Vegetarian Sugar Free | Dairy Free
8 McIntosh or Pink Lady Apples, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
2 cups Water or just to cover the apples
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon juice
½ tsp liquid Splenda
1 tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp Nutmeg
dash of salt
Put water and lemon juice into a large pot and add chopped apples. Turn onto medium heat. Add liquid Splenda, cinnamon, nutmeg and dash of salt. Stir and let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Using a masher, softly mash the apples in the pot. Be careful as the applesauce will be extremely hot. Serve warm, or place into the refrigerator when cooled.
Wild About Apples: Sauce with Grilled Chicken & Raspberries
4 Chicken Breasts, trimmed
2 cups Apples (mixture of Granny Smith and Pink Lady), freshly chopped
2 Tbsps Splenda
1½ Cups water
2 tsps fresh Lime juice
2 Tbsps Cranberry & Pear Balsamic Vinegar
1 Cup Fresh Raspberries
For the Wild About Apples Sauce: Place chopped apples, lime juice, water and Splenda in a large pot. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Once the apples are tender, carefully add raspberries and balsamic vinegar. Mix slowly. Turn off heat.
For the Chicken: Spray your grill with Pam and heat grill to medium heat. Season chicken with salt and lemon pepper to taste. Place seasoned chicken breast on the grill and grill both sides until the internal temperature of your chicken is 160°F. Spoon Wild About Apples Sauce over the Grilled Chicken Breast and enjoy.
Note: Sauce is Vegan, Vegetarian, Dairy Free, Gluten Free and Sugar Free. It can be served with vegan ice cream, which is good for gluten free/vegan/dairy free.
Chef Lynn Michelle is a personal chef located on Hilton Head Island serving the entire Lowcountry. Whether it’s preparing healthy, gourmet, family-style meals, or expertly creating elaborate dinner parties, Chef Lynn and her team do it all—planning, shopping, cooking and clean up. www.cheflynnmichelle.com (843) 422-5280