Homemade Organic Applesauce – Perfect For Fall!

Homemade apple sauce

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The girls and I went apple picking at Earth First Farms in Berrien Center, Michigan yesterday.  We picked three bushels with the intention of making some homemade cider later this week.  I thought that since we would be putting the entire apple through the cider press – peel and all – it was really important that the apples be organic.

It was a beautiful day for a drive – sunny and in the 70’s, and the colors are just starting to change here.  It was a fun afternoon and we were able to bring home a nice variety of organic Golden Delicious, Empire, and Jonathan apples.

The cider will be a project for later in the week.  But for today, applesauce was on the agenda.

You see, Lindsey had her wisdom teeth pulled this past Friday and she was such a good sport about going to pick apples with us – even though she couldn’t eat any of them – that I wanted to make something with the apples that she could actually eat (and that would have some nutritional value as well).

I had never made applesauce before.  I had been wanting to for years, but just never got around to it.  I had heard it was pretty easy, but I had mentally put making applesauce in a similar category as making jam or canning tomatoes – time consuming!  But after making it today, I can honestly say it is pretty easy, and doesn’t take a whole lot of time at all!

I didn’t want to make just the basic applesauce.  I wanted to add a little more flavor than normal.  So I looked through a few of my cookbooks and found a recipe in “La Tartine Gourmande – Recipes for an Inspired Life,” by Beatrice Peltre, that inspired me and gave me some ideas.

Here’s what I did.

Ingredients:

About 10 small to medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I used Empire, Golden Delicious, and Jonathan)

2 Tbsp. organic sugar

1 Tbsp. organic brown sugar

Zest and juice from 1 organic lemon (make sure it’s organic since you’ll be using the skin for the zest)

1 vanilla bean, split open and seeded

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 cup water

Directions:

Put all of the ingredients in a heavy duty sauce pan, and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the apples are tender.

You can then put them in a food processor or blender, depending on the consistency you like.  I didn’t even have to put them in a blender – they were soft enough to just mash with the back of my wooden spoon.

And voila! It is ready to serve.  You could even put it on top of some ice cream, or make an apple crisp or a mini apple pie, if you like.

Note: This recipe makes a pretty small batch, so if you are looking for more, double the recipe!

Enjoy!

Fall Recipes – For the Bounty of the Season!

Holland Farmer's Market

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Since I didn’t post a recipe like I normally do on Mondays, I thought I would leave you this week with some tasty and healthy recipes to play around with over the weekend. If you make it to your local farmers market Saturday morning, make sure you pick up the fresh fall ingredients for a couple of these recipes, and enjoy the bounty this season brings!

The first one is the Perfect Kale Salad. I first saw it on Kris Carr’s website. With ingredients like kale, avocado, walnuts and pomegranate seeds, how can you go wrong?

http://kriscarr.com/recipe/perfect-kale-salad/

Or click here for a portion of Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett’s new book, “Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet. “The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome and Gut and Physiology Syndrome) Diet focuses on healing the gut so you can heal your overall health. I just bought this book and the recipes look pretty healthy and not too complicated. I love that they are all designed to heal the gut – something I’m pretty sure all of us could use!

Heal your gut

I also just bought Erin Gleeson’s cookbook, “The Forest Feast” this past week (I know, it’s a problem I have!). It’s filled with vegetarian recipes and what I especially love about it is that it is also a work of art. The layout of the recipes is a little different than most – it’s very visual and very simple. Here’s one to take advantage of the butternut squash that’s in season as well as those last of the season tomatoes (I thought I was done with my tomatoes in the garden, and with this warm weather we’ve been having, they’ve gotten a second wind) – it’s a recipe for Butternut Caprese.

For another fall vegetarian option, try a recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen’s website (yes, I have their cookbook too!) – Pumpkin Black Bean Patties.

My list wouldn’t be complete without a recipe from Food52 – Butternut Squash and Cider Soup. I’ve tried a number of butternut squash soups, but never one that has cider – what a perfect combination!

Let me know if you try any of these and what you think!

Stress and Your Adrenals

Yesterday I had another follow-up appointment with the Functional Medicine practitioner.  My numbers from the BIA (Bio Impedance Analysis) were slightly better.  I’m moving in the right direction – not as quickly as I would like, but at least it’s in the right direction!

The thing we are going to work on next is making sure my adrenals are working properly.  When I was talking to the doctor about the adrenal glands, we talked about how many people must have adrenal fatigue and don’t even know it.  A number of things contribute to adrenal fatigue – stress being one of the bigger contributors.

So, the reason I posted the video above is to remind you (or, to suggest for the first time, depending on when you’re tuning in) that it’s not necessarily the stress that causes the negative reactions in your body (i.e. adrenal issues), but the belief that stress is bad for you that does.

Watch above, as Kelly McGonigal explains that concept a little further.

The other reason I wanted to post this video is for you to become aware of how you are reacting to stress as well as your perception of what is or isn’t “stressful” in your life.  When a challenge comes up for you, do you automatically move toward a “fight-or-flight” response?  Or do you realize it is part of life and make decisions and plans to deal with it and move forward?  And, when events occur in your life that are really challenging or frustrating, how do you effectively move through or “digest” them, without letting them control your thoughts and your life in general?

Do you meditate?  Do you exercise?  Do you talk and seek support from others?  Do you go for a walk?

And, what exactly is perceived as “stressful” in your life?  For some, everyday occurrences seem to elicit stressful responses, and for others, it takes something more along the lines of a tragedy (death or divorce) to elicit a stress response.  And for still others, even with seemingly tragic situations, they are still okay – they somehow manage to process it, learn from it, be grateful for it, and move forward.

This reminds me of a song by Darryl Worley, “Sounds Like Life to Me.”  Check it out here:

Bottom line:  is it stress or is it life?  Check in on your perception and awareness, and let me know what you find out.

The Lunchbox

Normally on Mondays I post a recipe for you to try out and hopefully inspire you. But today I thought I would share a different kind of inspiration – a scene from the movie, “The Lunchbox.”

In Mumbai, each workday, hot lunches lovingly prepared at home by workers’ families are delivered to the workplace by a “troop” of dabbawallahs. The system, proficiently run by the Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier’s Association, delivers over 200,000 hot lunches each day.

The lunches are prepared at home and then stored in stainless steel 3 or 4 tiered boxes – usually cylindrical. These lunch boxes are then picked up later in the morning, color coded, and transported to a station, where they are collected and delivered to the corresponding workplace – still hot. The empty containers are then returned back to the home they came from, before the end of the working day.

This amazingly efficient system is 99.99% accurate – meaning they RARELY deliver a lunch to the wrong person. The movie, “The Lunchbox” is a story about the .01% scenario where the lunch was actually delivered to the wrong person, and the relationship that develops between the two people connected through this mistake.

I haven’t yet watched the movie – Lindsey just showed me the trailer this morning. But the reviews have been great so far. And what I love about it is that it showcases food as something that connects people. In a world where so much takes place online, through texts, e-mails, tweets, Facebook, and yes, blogs, food can be a much more personal way of connecting people and transferring intentions, energy, and love – something we could all use a little more of.

Apparently, the movie was just released on DVD, and iTunes is doing a special where you can rent the movie for 99 cents. This one is definitely on the watch list for this week!

And, just for fun, if you’ve ever watched “Top Gear” (and even if you haven’t), check out this segment from one of their episodes where they try to race the Indian lunch delivery system in Bombay. Needless to say, they are no match for the tightly run delivery system. Actually, they are nowhere near the efficiency, integrity, and success of the system. See for yourself:

And, if you do watch “The Lunchbox,” let me know what you think.