An apple a day- makes applesauce!

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My dear friend and mentor, Chris, with Danielle when she was a fourth grader!

My dear friend and mentor, Chris, with Danielle when she was a fourth grader!

It’s definitely apple time, isn’t it? Cooler days and crisp evenings make me think about fall, and fall makes me think about apples. Now we all know that apples are good for us, right? The saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” came from the knowledge that apples are a healthy choice that we can enjoy every day for maximum benefits. However, I didn’t realize just how good apples are for us until I began to do research on the topic for this post. My research findings give me a new appreciation for apples that I want to share with you. I also want to show you a quick and easy applesauce recipe that was given to me by my dear friend and co-teacher Chris Dowling, who passed away too many years ago. I make her applesauce every fall in memory of her and because it’s DELICIOUS AND EASY.

So what’s in an apple that makes it good for us? Thanks for asking, I’ll tell you! Well first of all, apples are full of vitamin C, B complex vitamins, dietary fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. All of these important nutrients do some amazing things for us. One cool thing apples do for us is to help improve our neurological health thanks to an antioxidant called “quercetin” which helps our cells not to die off from oxidation and inflammation of neurons. Another thing apples do is to help prevent dementia because of that whole antioxidant keeping our cells from dying thing. That’s obviously a very good thing that apples do! Apples also help reduce our risk of stroke. In a study done over a 28 year period involving 9208 men and women, they found that people who ate the most apples over that period of time had the lowest risk for stroke. Wow! Would you like to reduce your risk of diabetes? Then eat three servings per week of apples! In a study of 187,382 people they found that people who ate apples had a 7% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t eat them. Another awesome thing about apples is they may help ward off breast cancer by eating one per day. Are all of these compelling reasons for you to eat an apple every day?! They are for me!

My wonderful friend's recipe written by her! One of my most precious posessions!

My wonderful friend’s recipe written by her! One of my most precious possessions!

Every year Chris Dowling’s fourth grade classes made applesauce in the fall after a visit to the apple orchard. I was blessed to help in her classroom as she taught both of my daughters, to teach with her for 2 1/2 years, and to call her my friend and mentor. After she passed I made applesauce with my classes as well. This recipe is so easy even a fourth grader can follow it. I made some slight changes based on my feelings about sugar (remember sugar=bad!) which I’ll share with you now.

My ingredients are gathered. Let the peeling begin!

My ingredients are gathered. Let the peeling begin!

The first thing I do is wash the apples with Veggie Wash. I know we are peeling but I like to make sure no residue accidentally ends up in my applesauce. Oh, and I make sure that my apples are local and organically grown if possible. Then, I start peeling, and peeling, and peeling! I know some people have those fancy gadgets that peel and core apples at the same time and if you don’t want to peel then go for it. I don’t mind peeling apples though so that’s how I roll. I’ve also made this applesauce by not peeling the apples, just chopping them and throwing them in. I couldn’t tell the difference, but if you or your family is picky about peels (Like Danielle is) then get rid of them. What I do is peel 5 at a time, and while my hand is recovering from all of that peeling I chop the apples and add them to the crockpot. Then, I can make sure I don’t peel more than I need to. I also discard the core and seeds because no one wants to find hard core pieces and seeds in their applesauce!

After peeling the apples, chop them into small pieces to add to the crockpot!

After peeling the apples, chop them into small pieces to add to the crockpot!

After you’ve peeled and chopped a crockpot full of apples, then you can pat yourself on the back because the hard part is done! Peeling and chopping can be made easier by having helpers for that part of the chore. As they say, “many hands make light work” or in this case “many hands make yummy applesauce” but at any rate if you can browbeat, umm I mean convince your family to help you out with this activity, it will definitely be easier for you and go faster too.

Apples are in, ingredients added, and it's ready for cooking!

Apples are in, ingredients added, and it’s ready for cooking!

Now is the time to add the other ingredients and this is where I’ve taken a slight detour in the recipe. I don’t add sugar and here’s why. I think the applesauce doesn’t need the sugar, the apples are sweet enough on their own, and I always try to save calories when I can. I add a tablespoon of honey instead of the sugar, but you really don’t need any sweetener in there. If you want to skip all sweeteners I promise you won’t be disappointed! I add a hefty amount of cinnamon though because I really like the flavor of it in the applesauce. And then, guess what? That’s it! Cook the applesauce on high for 5 or 6 hours and stir often. The reason I like to stir it is that when I lift the lid the most delicious aroma of cooking apples and cinnamon comes wafting out of the crockpot. It is a mouthwatering smell, let me tell you. Your entire house will smell like baking apples and cinnamon and it’s truly a wonderful thing.

The finished product- sooooo delicious!

The finished product- sooooo delicious!

Here’s the great thing about this applesauce, it’s so versatile. I use it as a warm sauce over vanilla frozen yogurt, as a chunky topping for pancakes, on top of oatmeal, or just by itself. It tastes good hot or cold, but I prefer it warm. I’ve sprinkled nuts on top of it which adds a crunchiness to it, and Danielle likes to top it with whipped cream. The possibilities are endless! Another great thing about this applesauce is that a half cup of unsweetened applesauce is only 50 calories! Wow, that’s great bang for your caloric buck! If you make Chris’ applesauce recipe let me know how you like to eat it. So now you know that apples are really good for you, that they’re rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, that you can avoid diabetes, breast cancer, stroke, dementia, and have improved neurological health by eating apples. I’ve also shared a quick and delicious applesauce recipe that I hope you’ll try at home some time. Eat an apple a day which will keep the doctor away, and allow you to live a life of vitality- like Valerie! 🙂

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