Eat Happy, Be Healthy!
Homemade Applesauce with a Special Twist
Most people peel their apples when making applesauce to keep the texture nice and smooth. But in the process they are discarding the most nutritious part! The apple peel is rich in gut loving and anti-inflammatory polyphenols including well known quercetin. Quercetin is most well known for inhibiting the production and release of histamine, thereby reducing the severity of seasonal allergies and other histamine related symptoms.
The peel is also an excellent source of pectin a soluble fiber which can soothe the GI tract and can be especially helpful when struggling with diarrhea. Pectin is also fermented by good gut microbes and therefore helps support a healthy and diverse gut microbiome.
Since we are keeping the peel on for this applesauce, it becomes increasingly important to choose ORGANIC apples, as conventional apples are highly sprayed with pesticides. And to help improve texture of applesauce, I recommend grating the apple peels instead of just coarsely chopping the apples. Although this is an extra step, it allows the apple peel to easily dissolve during the cooking process, leaving the texture more smooth. With the addition of the skin, and the increase in polyphenols and pectin, the applesauce is pinker in color and is thicker in texture.
However, apples are rich in fructose and sorbitol, two kinds of sugars that are considered FODMAPs. If you don't tolerate either of these well, then applesauce (and apples) may trigger uncomfortable digestive symptoms until the underlying cause is addressed, such as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), which can lead to fructose malabsorption. Some people unfortunately, struggle with hereditary fructose intolerance, and will have to limit fructose entirely to avoid uncomfortable symptoms.
Spices (fresh ginger root, cinnamon, vanilla, etc)
Sweetener of choice (optional) - depending on the type of apple you may need more of less
Wash your apples and grate the peels. Cut out the core and dice up the remaining apple flesh. Add the grated peels, apple bits, water, lemon juice, and your choice of spices to a large pot, cover, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the chunks. Remove lid, and mash with a potato masher or whisk, stir in salt, and optional sweetener to taste. You may continue to simmer uncovered for a couple of minutes to evaporate excess water if needed until desired texture is achieved. Transfer to a sealable glass jar and enjoy. I love it with Nancy’s whole milk yogurt or cottage cheese.
Show me your applesauce making skills!!
To celebrate Mother's day I would like to share my favorite spring tart. It is very refreshing, light, and symbolic of Spring and Summer. If you like lemony desserts then this is for you! Plus, it looks beautiful and is a wonderful dessert for any special occasion. Although each step is very simple and very easy, some steps do take some time. In order to make this tart with ease, I recommend making the cookie crust and lemon curd the night before so that you can sleep away the cooling time and quickly make the rest of the tart the following day. Fortunately, for those who may be on a restricted diet, this tart is gluten free and naturally low FODMAP if you stick with strawberries and raspberries. Also, it only contains butter, so those who are dairy sensitive may still be able to tolerate it. Serves 8.
Sweet Cookie Crust:
½ cup softened salted butter (I use Kerrygold)
¼ cup sugar
1 ¼ cup Bob’s 1:1 flour, plus more as needed
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup lemon juice (~3 lemons)
1 whole egg
3 tablespoons natural cane sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 T salted butter, flaked
1lb of organic strawberries, washed
12oz of raspberries (or another pound of strawberries)
Optional: Any other berries of choosing
Lemon Zest Gelee
1 cup (250ml) water, divided
2 ½ teaspoons gelatin or 1 packet Knox Gelatin
Zest of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
With a wooden spoon stir together the softened butter, sugar, and egg. Mix together the flour with the baking powder and gradually mix into the creamed butter mixture. Using the spoon and your hands mix dough until smooth, adding more flour as needed until the dough is no longer super sticky and easily handled. Gluten free flour will always be a bit more sticky than regular flour. Flatten into a disc and cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Refrigerate 1 hour or best overnight. When ready to bake the tart, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to warm up a bit until pliable and knead a bit. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil the pan. Then roll out the dough (or see tip) to fit a 10” tart pan. Poke holes into the crust with a fork and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool completely.
Tip: Since gluten free dough tends to tear easily, and to avoid discarding bits of the dough, I prefer to break the dough into 4 or 5 equal chunks and divide it out directly onto the tart pan. Then using a baby bottle (without the top) I like to roll out the dough directly into the pan. Then using my fingers I spread the dough evenly into the sides. This way there is no transfer and all dough is used up.
Meanwhile, while the dough is chilling, make the lemon curd. In a small saucepan simmer the fresh lemon juice over medium heat until reduced down by half. Pour into a small bowl and set aside to cool. Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. In a ceramic bowl that is large enough to sit in the saucepan without the water overflowing, mix together the whole egg, the egg yolk, sugar, and lemon zest. Add the cooled lemon juice, and whisk together.
Place the bowl into the medium saucepan, and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens. Using heat proof gloves remove from the heat and immediately add the salted butter flakes to the curd and whisk for about a minute to create a shiny smooth lemon curd. Transfer into a small glass jar and refrigerate.
While curd and cookie crust are cooling, prep the berries of your choice. If using strawberries, rinse well and cut off the green tops. Depending on the size of the strawberry slice into half, thirds, or quarters to have even slices. If using raspberries, leave them as is because water tends to soften them too much. Rinse and dry blackberries or blueberries if using.
Once the cookie crust is cooled and the curd is cold, use a spatula to evenly spread the curd over the bottom of the crust. Then arrange the berries on top in any way that suits your fancy and refrigerate.
Finally, pour ~1/4 of the cold water into a jar and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Pour the remaining water into a saucepan. Add the lemon zest and sugar and bring to a boil. Once boiling allow to simmer for a minute and then remove from heat. Add ~2 tablespoon of the hot liquid to the cold liquid and stir to combine. Then pour the cold liquid mixture back into the hot liquid mixture. Stir to combine.
Transfer the gelee mixture into a glass or metal bowl and refrigerate until it is just starting to gel. You want it to be spoonable and thick like kefir, but not thin like water. Check after 30 minutes, then again every 5 minutes so that you don't miss the perfect texture. If it does gel too much, just sit the bowl into a warm water bath to gently warm up the gelee and thin up a little. Gently spoon the mixture evenly over the entire tart to cover the berries as best as possible. Then refrigerate the entire tart until the gelee has fully set and ready to serve. Best enjoyed within 3-4 days after making, if it lasts that long. For extra decadence serve with homemade whipped cream, but it’s not required because it tastes super yummy on its own.
October. The month of foggy mornings and bluebird afternoons, brilliant yellows and orange, and home baked goods with seasonal fruit. I don't bake as often as I used to. But being German I love apple cakes, much more than apple pie. So I decided to use delicious apples to make an Apple Lemon Cake. I wanted to use oats as part of my recipe instead of just premade gluten free flour mixes. The oats give the cake more moisture, more fiber, and more nutrition. I also LOVE lemon. Therefore, I added plenty of lemon juice and lemon zest. If you want it even zestier, taste test the batter before adding the baking powder and see if you want even more. Sometimes I even add a teaspoon of rum extract, if I am feeling extra groovy.
Although, I typically stick with gold ol’ fashioned butter, you are welcome to replace the butter with olive oil or coconut oil. The flavor profile will change, but it will still be tasty. Keep in mind that my recipe calls for salted butter, so make sure to increase the sea salt by ¼ teaspoon if your opting for the dairy free version.
The big beauty of this cake is how quickly and easily it comes together. Add all the ingredients to a high speed blender, top with apple slices, and put her in the oven! No beaters, multiple bowls, etc needed here. A good microplaner and grater will come in handy however. If you don't have apples on hand, pears work well too.
So if you want aromas of apple, vanilla, and lemon wafting through your house, then by all means, try this delicious, lighty sweet, German apple cake. And please, top it with HOMEMADE whipped cream. It’s worth the extra effort.
Apple Lemon Cake
2 large apples
¾ cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 stick salted butter, melted
¼ cup milk (any kind)
Zest and juice of 1 ½ lemons
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup Bob’s 1:1 all-purpose gluten free flour
4 teaspoons Rumsford baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of an 11” springform cake pan. Meanwhile, grab a small bowl and pour the sugar into it. Top it with the lemon zest and rub the zest into the sugar. This helps release the essential oils. Set aside for now. Grate 1 large apple (I used Honeycrisp) leaving peel on (measuring ~ 1 cup of grated apple). It will leave behind a lot of juice, save this.
Now core and slice the second apple into thin slices, and drizzle with a squeeze of lemon to keep from browning. You will be using these slices to evenly fan out on top of the cake. Set aside.
In a high speed blender (like BlendTec or Vitamix), add the grated apple and all its juice, lemon zest infused sugar, eggs, melted butter, milk, juice of 1 ½ lemons, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Then add the rolled oats. Blend on low for about 60 seconds. Finally, add the gluten free all-purpose flour, and blend another 15 seconds.
Once the mixture is smooth, sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of baking powder in at a time through a fine mesh sieve (or loose leaf tea strainer), and pulse until incorporated. Repeat until all the baking powder is gone. Evenly pour the mixture into the buttered baking pan, and top with apple slices, fanning in three layers. Place into oven and bake for 60-65 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Serve with homemade whipped cream.
Notes: You can easily replace the butter with ½ cup olive oil or melted coconut oil if you want to keep this recipe dairy free. Simply increase the sea salt from ½ to ¾ teaspoons. Apples can be replaced with pears as well.
I hope you enjoy my creative, flavorful, and nutrient dense approach to whole foods cooking. All recipes are gluten free.