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recipe: homemade applesauce

22 Feb

One of the most satisfying snacks–or desserts–is a bowl of warm homemade applesauce. I’m not a fan of regular applesauce (you know, the kind that’s thin and very regular in its texture?). But I like a chunky, very cinnamon-heavy warm applesauce.

This is a very easy recipe, and if you have any canning know-how, you can preserve this and stick it in the pantry. My kids eat lots of applesauce, and I like knowing what’s in it. If you make a smaller batch, just keep it in the refrigerator. (Actually, there’s also no reason you couldn’t freeze it.)

If you want to make a large batch to can or freeze, buy a half-bushel of apples. Otherwise, use as many as you think you’ll eat in a few days–a few pounds is enough for a small batch. Obviously, you’ll get the best apples and prices in the fall, but I’m making this today so I thought I’d post it.

As for the best kinds of apple for this dish, it’s up to you. A tart apple will produce a tart sauce, unless you add sugar/honey; I like to mix in at least some sweeter apples instead of adding sugar. My favorites for sauce are Jonagolds, Romes, Galas, and Cortlands. Mix together whatever kinds you like! My only observation here is that Granny Smith, which I like for eating raw, is too tart for many people’s taste in applesauce.

Ingredients:
Apples (as many as you want)
Cinnamon (as much as you want)

Peel, core, and chop the apples. I don’t get too carried away with this–even quartering the apples is really enough.

Put the apples in a large pot. Cook over medium heat until the apples are soft enough to mash with a potato masher. Mash them until they reach the texture you like. If you like very smooth sauce, you could use a blender or food processor to puree them instead, but be careful pureeing hot food.

Add cinnamon to taste. I really like cinnamon, so I use a lot, but it’s entirely a matter of preference. If you do want to add some sugar or honey, this is the time; I find that it isn’t necessary at all.

If you want to can the applesauce, fill your canning jars and process them in a hot-water bath. My canning book recommends 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts, but I suggest that you consult the most recent recommendations to assure best food safety.

This sauce also makes an excellent filling for apple turnovers, if you’re feeling decadent. If you cooked slices of apple and didn’t mash them, you could use this process to make pie filling that would be a lot less sugary than most recipes.

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recipe: roasted chickpeas

26 Jan

Okay, stay with me here: these are really good. Seriously. I saw recipes for these all over the place, but I don’t actually like chickpeas. (I like hummus and falafel, but just chickpeas themselves? Nah.)

When you roast them, though, they get crunchy and delicious. It’s quick, it’s easy; it’s high-protein; it’s easy to take along for portable snacks or lunches.

This is more of a method than a recipe. Use whatever spices you like. I’ll list a few of my favorite spice variations at the end.

Ingredients:
* canned chickpeas (you could also cook your own dried ones; I just don’t usually plan ahead that far)
* a drizzle of olive oil
* spices of choice (see below)

Rinse the chickpeas well in a colander, until bubbles are gone (you’ll see some bubbles when you start rinsing). I don’t bother to remove the chickpea skins, though I have read that you should; they get crispy and delicious, too, in this setting.

Toss chickpeas with olive oil in a baking dish. I like to use a glass one.

Add your spices and stir. Bake in 450-degree oven until the chickpeas are brown and toasty. Make sure you really let them brown; they are not nearly as good if they’re not crunchy!

Spice Suggestions:
* garlic: add two or three cloves minced or crushed garlic and some ground pepper.
* lemon-pepper: sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning.
* Chesapeake: sprinkle with Old Bay or other Chesapeake-style crab seasoning.
* Indian: sprinkle with curry powder, cumin, and/or garam masala.
* Mexican: sprinkle with cumin and chili powder (for a smokier kick, use chipotle powder).

snack idea: Honeycrisp apple + almond butter

20 Oct

I realize this blog has been sluggish of late–I’m teaching five classes this semester!–but I thought I’d post a quick snack idea. I think I’ve recommended Honeycrisp apples before. They’re much, much more delicious than regular apples. They taste…like cider, I guess.

But paired with a dollop of almond butter, they’re like a dessert. It seems totally indulgent, but it’s really very good for you. I have tried peanut butter, and it’s okay, but almond butter is another different level of tasty.

The only downside, as I see it, is that almond butter is a lot pricier than peanut butter. I figure, though, if it gets me to eat a healthy snack on a regular basis, it’s worth it.

[And if I’m really in the mood for something dessert-y, adding a square of dark chocolate doesn’t hurt either.]

recipe: Veggie Dip

29 Sep

Makes: a big bowl–enough for a party. Halve the recipe if you make it just for you or your household.

This is slightly modified from my mom’s version (for the sake of healthfulness mostly). It’s a very basic vegetable dip that is a big hit at parties. My husband also really likes it as a sandwich spread, and I really like it as a salad dressing, although it isn’t hugely visually appealing as a dressing!

Ingredients:
1 cup real mayonnaise (I don’t recommend low-fat–I just use less than the original recipe, as in my opinion the low-fat kind is vile)
1 large container (16 oz) of fat-free cottage cheese
½ onion, or 1 small onion, minced quite small
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
several dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dill weed

Mix all ingredients. You can blend it in a food processor or blender if you like it creamier. Serve with any veggies (at parties people eat mostly carrots, in my experience).

power snacks!

28 Dec

So, if you have made it through the holidays thus far, you’re probably feeling a little bit ready for a return to normal life…and normal eating. (I know I am; all of my good intentions are often wrecked, not by temptation, although that is definitely a factor, but by the weird schedules of holidays.)

Here are a few good antidotes to that overstuffed, unscheduled holiday feeling–any one of these makes a good, PCOS-friendly, easy-to-eat snack:

* hummus with whole wheat pita, vegetable sticks, or whole-grain crackers (just watch the portions on crackers–many of them are crazily high in carbohydrates and calories, and lots of them contain hydrogenated oils).

*  chili: make a pot and freeze/refrigerate it in single-serving containers. Pop it in the microwave and you’re ready to go! Lean meat, beans, tomatoes–what’s not to like?

* Low-fat cheese and sliced fruit (apples are my favorite).

* A bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal with an apple sliced into it, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, and a few toasted nuts (okay, so this one takes a few minutes to make).

Any of these will leave you feeling better than the Chex Mix, cookies, or leftover mashed potatoes that are always hanging around at holiday time. Season’s greetings to you!