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Apple a day helps create healthy year

When I was a kid, apples came in two varieties: red and yellow delicious. But now there are many more choices, a good thing for anyone who's vowing to eat more healthy fruits in the New Year.

My current favorites are pink ladies and honey crisps.

The honey crisp is a hybrid of the macoun and honey gold. It is super sweet, juicy and crisp. I also like the pink lady that originates in Australia. A cross between the golden delicious and Lady Williams apple, its flesh is both sweet and tart. I love its crisp texture and pink hue.

With such tasty apples available, try chopping and adding them to salads, especially those made with some nuts or blue cheese. They are great in smoothies and shakes, but lately my choice is to turn them into chunky applesauce.

When I make applesauce, I leave the skin on the fruit. Then I use the sauce as a dessert, a potato pancake topping or a warm topping for ice cream.

For this recipe for power applesauce, I combine apples with pomegranate and cranberries that are serious functional foods.

The reddish color of this sauce is beautiful, and it gets a touch of tartness from the pomegranate. I also add some ginger root for bold flavor.

You can find pomegranate molasses in Middle Eastern and Arab groceries as well as many gourmet stores. I've even seen it in discount department stores. If you can't find it, don't fret. Use regular molasses.

Power Applesauce

I like to use honey crisps for this recipe, but you can also use Granny Smiths, galas, Fuji apples or any combination.

7 skin-on apples, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

2 cinnamon sticks

1 (1-inch) piece ginger root

1 cup pomegranate or cranberry juice

1/2cup light brown sugar

1/4cup pomegranate molasses (or regular molasses)

Place all ingredients in a nonreactive large heavy-bottom saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover and cook 30 to 35 minutes until it forms a sauce. Stir occasionally so it doesn't burn on the bottom. Remove cinnamon stick and ginger root chunk.

Mash fruit with a potato masher or, if you prefer a smoother sauce, place in a food processor fitted with the metal blade or a blender and puree. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 171 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, 45 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams total fiber, 39 grams total sugars, 40 grams net carbs, .2 gram protein, 9 milligrams sodium.

The Wichita Eagle—01/05/10

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