The apple orchards are open and now is the season for cooking and baking with tasty, fresh apples. It is so nice to have a variety of fresh apples available and to be able to incorporate them into our menus. Apples are a very versatile fruit - they taste great fresh as a snack, they can be part of an entre or salad and, of course, they lend themselves well to some of our favorite desserts!
I was in the mood for some apple crisp the other day and so I took out all of my favorite church cookbooks to look for a good crisp recipe. Besides the common ingredient of apples, the next most prominent ingredient in most crisps seems to be sugar. I wondered if there wasn't a way to capitalize on the sweetness of the apples and cut back on the sugar to some extent and found a recipe that was lower in sugar than most of the others I saw. Depending upon the sweetness of your variety of apple, you probably can cut back on the sugar in your favorite recipe too. Also, the incorporation of oatmeal and nuts into the topping can add some whole grains and fiber as well. The lower calorie/sugar recipe that I found and tried, tasted more like a baked apple with a granola topping than apple crisp. You can always modify your favorite recipe or this one by adjusting the sugar according to your preferences. I am always intrigued by cooks and bakers that don't necessarily measure but go more by how it looks and how they want it to turn out. Following is the lower sugar recipe that you can try if you are trying to cut back on the sugar and calorie content of apple crisp and you can always add some sugar back in if you prefer:
Baked Apple Crisp
4-5 cups cored, peeled and slice apples (choose an apple that will soften as it bakes, such as Wealthy, Red Baron or Haralson)
1 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp melted margarine
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of an 11x17 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Put apples in baking pan. Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl until they are crumbly. Spread the mixture evenly over the top of the apples. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm. Top with low fat whipped topping or vanilla frozen yogurt if desired. Serves 8.
Apples lend themselves to main dishes as well. As I was going through recipes, I found this one from Holmberg Orchard that uses my favorite eating apple, Honeycrisp, as an ingredient in a main dish salad. You might want to give this recipe a try too!
Honeycrisp Turkey Salad
1 box shell macaroni
3 cups cooked, chopped turkey or chicken
1 cup diced celery
1 Tbsp diced onion
3 cups, cored, chopped Honeycrisp apples
1 1/2 cups salad dressing (Miracle Whip or other)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
Place cooked, drained and cooled macaroni, turkey, celery, onion and apples in a large bowl. Stir gently. Mix Miracle Whip and sugar together and fold into macaroni and turkey mixture. Chill for at least one hour. Fold in pecans just before serving.
Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. In addition to her column, you can also find nutrition tips and ideas on the blog she writes at www.averastorycenter.org.