I love the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” It’s an age old Chinese proverb that holds such weight in my own life and work. As we wrap up the first week of March – National Nutrition Month, with this year’s theme, Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle, that adage sticks in my head. The desire to be healthier will manifest in our lives when we are open to other food possibilities and life experiences – or when the teacher comes.
Let’s use this month to garner new lifestyle approaches geared toward health and wellness. Today, let’s think FRUIT. How can I get more fruit in? Many fruits are jam-packed with fiber, vitamin C, water, plus a whole host of plant compounds that support your health. So you get a big nutritional bang for the calories…
As the weather makes a turn toward spring (it’s going to be 40 degrees in Chicago!), my mind and taste buds want sweet, juicy fruit. I love using fruit in desserts – and my kids will eat it, too!
Today, I am using up my Royal Gala apples. I eat at least one apple a day – and love them, but I had a 3-pound bag, so I want to use them before they started to turn to the dark side. (Although I don’t buy all organic when it comes to fruits and veggies, I try to buy organic apples as they TOP the latest Dirty Dozen list. Don’t fret if you can’t find organic apples, just scrub the skins gently under cold water before eating.)
Apples taste so delicious with honey and cinnamon. The lemon juice adds a fresh citrus aroma and flavor, but the acid also keeps the apples from oxidizing (aka turning brown) after they are sliced. For this dish, I slice the apples thin; douse them with a couple of squeezes of fresh lemon wedges and top with toasted walnuts drizzled with honey, vanilla and cinnamon. Stir together gently.
Place into an oven-safe pie dish and bake. Shortly, after putting in the oven the apples, cinnamon, vanilla and lemon aromas will pervade your kitchen. It’s heavenly….
Honey Nut Apple and Citrus Gratin
Serves 8 (1 cup each)
6 apples, any variety, thinly sliced
1 large lemon, quartered
2/3 cup walnut halves, chopped, roasted
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place walnut halves on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool before chopping.
Place sliced apples, juice from 2 lemon wedges in a large bowl and mix together. In a small bowl, add honey, juice from remaining lemon wedges, cinnamon, vanilla and a salt. Stir and add chopped nuts to coat.
Add honey nut mixture to apples and stir gently, but thoroughly to coat all apple slices. Place apple slices into a pie dish or individual ramekins and top with the remaining juice, honey and nuts.
Bake for 20 minutes. Check for bubbling and browning – if not done, place back in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve lukewarm with a dollop of plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories: 114, Total Fat: 3 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 14 mg, Carbohydrates: 24 g, Dietary Fiber: 4 g, Sugars: 19 g, Protein: 1 g
Enjoy eating simply,