Healthy apple ‘pie’: Half a recipe


We’re in Apple-topia over here.

After last weekend’s trip to the orchard, we drove home with sore feet and bags of apples. My boyfriend is quite the winemaker these days (and even won “best in show” at the county fair this year — woo!); apple brew is one of the concoctions on his to-be-made list. So much of the fruit will be broken down for that.

But the rest? That’s for us. For desserts and snacks and dinners. We’ve been chopping up chicken and apple sausage for dinner, sauteed with slices of apples. I’ve been cutting them up as “dessert,” which isn’t nearly as appealing as, you know, chocolate — but in an effort to cut down on calories, I’m learning to live with it.

And then I found this recipe, which is really just half a recipe. There’s no cooking or real preparation involved. It’s succinct — but tasty. Here we go:


Cut an apple in half, removing seeds, and bake until soft. Top with 2 tablespoons of low-fat or fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt, a dash of cinnamon and one crumbled reduced-fat cinnamon graham cracker.


That’s it.

And it. was. delicious. No butter, no oil, no sugar (except from that solitary graham cracker, but that barely counts). For someone who craves a little sweetness after dinner, this was a treat. Okay, it’s not really pie, but the graham crackers allow me to pretend. I like pretending.

Since we have about 47 more apples to use before they spoil, I have a feeling it’ll be showing up in a kitchen near me quite soon.



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A summer of peaches


I normally don’t pay much attention to fruit. And yes, I know I’m trying to “eat healthier” and “make better choices” and “exercise,” but somehow consuming more fresh produce hasn’t really gotten onto my radar.

But I’m working on that. Spencer and I have been hitting up farmers markets and fruit stands from here to California. Last weekend’s early-morning trip to Berryville, Va., had us stopping at a cute spot called Nalls Farm Market for goodies on our way back to Maryland.

Funny thing about Nalls: we’d gone looking for it 10 minutes earlier. According to trusty Google Maps, it should have been just up ahead on our left after a U-turn — but no such place existed. Dismayed but eying the ominous thunderstorm headed our way, we kept driving toward home and said we’d look for the market another day. And that’s when I spied the ant.

I really don’t like bugs.

“Do you really want me to pull over so you can get an ant off your door?” Spencer crowed, giving me his patented raised-eyebrows look of bemusement and irritation.

Yes, I said. I really do. Or I’ll stare at it the entire drive home — two-plus hours. “Just pull off up here,” I said, gesturing to a little barn and its driveway up ahead.

We were just a few feet away when I recognized the sign I’d seen online: Nalls Farm Market. If it hadn’t been for the wayward ant, we would have sailed straight past the stand . . . and I wouldn’t have gotten these delicious peaches.



In hindsight, we should have just sprung for the bushel. Buying eight of them individually was almost as much as a whole small basket, but I couldn’t imagine we would eat more than a dozen peaches before they rotted.

I was wrong. They’re already gone.

It’s been a summer of fruit. There’s something so refreshing and intoxicating about farmers markets, and I like buying local. What good does my $5 really do? I don’t know. But it feels good to pass it over, even if it’s just a small purchase.

I need more peaches. And peach recipes. If you have any, don’t hold out on me.


Serving up a little Waldorf salad for the holidays

Growing up, I used to get really excited when someone would mention “Waldorf salad,” that creamy, delicious and fruity concoction that was a staple on the buffet where my family would often go for dinner. Growing up in Waldorf, Md., it was years before I realized that the side dish wasn’t named for my hometown but the Waldorf Hotel (later the Waldorf-Astoria) in New York City, where it originated.

Wednesday was my office’s Thanksgiving potluck, an annual tradition that serves as a warm-up for the main meal to come next week. All the staples were there: sweet potatoes with crunchy marshmallows; moist turkey; glazed ham; greens and potatoes and pumpkin pie. When I went to sign up, most of the foods we associate with Thanksgiving were already “claimed” by my coworkers — and I wasn’t sure what to bring.

“How about fruit?” Sandy, my friend and officemate, suggested.

Fruit. Fruit at Thanksgiving? I’m all about the rich, hot, creamy and fatty foods. Fruit seems like the unwanted distant relative who crashes the party and gets ridiculously drunk, you know? The one who then shares all the family secrets. “What is he doing here?” you think. “Who invited him?”

Well, I invited Waldorf salad — and let me tell you: it hit the spot. Awash in a sea of heavy foods, the Winter Fruit Waldorf Salad — courtesy of my main lady, Betty Crocker — was a highlight at our potluck, and I wound up giving the recipe to a few coworkers.

I’m actually embarrassed to call it a “recipe,” friends, because it’s nothing if not simple. The most challenging part of creating the salad was my having to get up at 6 a.m. to make it before work. It’s not something you want to let sit, so make it fresh — and have it ready to go. I cut all my fruit up first and let that sit until just before the main event, where I spooned my fruity dressing over top.

As we all gear up for family, friends and feasts next week in the U.S., consider adding a refreshing treat to your table. I had a tough time finding chopped dates at the grocery store, so I added way more walnuts than the recipe originally called for to compensate. It turned out delicious!


Winter Fruit Waldorf Salad

Recipe from BettyCrocker.com

Ingredients:
2 medium unpeeled red apples, diced
2 medium unpeeled pears, diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/4 cup Yoplait Original 99% Fat Free orange crème yogurt (from 6-oz container)
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
8 cups shredded lettuce
Walnut halves, if desired

Directions:

1. In large bowl, mix apples, pears, celery, raisins and dates.

2. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, yogurt and juice concentrate until well blended. Add to fruit; toss to coat. (Salad can be refrigerated up to 1 hour.

3. Serve salad on lettuce. Garnish with walnut halves.