Monday, September 29, 2014

17 Delicious Apple Recipes for Fall

After you've stuffed yourself with Honeycrisps, Sweet Tangos, and Jonagolds at the farmers market, you should start thinking about ways to incorporate your favorite fall fruit into your daily meals. From puffed apple pancake for breakfast, to stuffed streusel apples for dessert, plus savory goodness like a roasted apple and winter squash soup, here are plenty of ways to get your apple fix this fall.

You can find apples to eat and cook with all year round, but you get the best variety in the fall. Apples are an incredible ingredient to use in recipes because they are inexpensive and are easy to work with. They also offer a wonderful sweetness to any recipe.

But before you go off gallivanting in the farmers market in search for apples to use in these recipes, you should know they are not all created equal. Some apples are best for baking, while others are best eaten on their own. Read this guide for finding the best apples for all your baking needs.

So which recipe will you make first? Will you delve into the apple loaf, or start of strong with an apple pie? Here are 17 recipes to get you started.

Apples for Breakfast 

Apples for Dessert

Apples for Lunch, Dinner, Snacks & More

[via the kitchn]

The Best Apples for Baking

Apples are one of our favorite fruits to bake with — they're inexpensive, easy to find, available year round, and last a long time. Whether they're baked into a pie, grated into muffins, or shingled into a beautiful tart, this fruit can do it all. But not all apples are designed for baking, so here's what you need to know!

Texture Is Key

When baking with apples, you need to keep in mind that texture is really important. Good baking apples have a balance of intense sweet-tart flavor and will not fall apart when thrown into the oven. They should hold their shape and not turn into mush — remember, you're not making applesauce!

Also remember that sometimes baking apples don't taste so great raw and out of hand but are delicious once baked up. Since there are so many apple varieties out there and what's available to you may be very region dependent, here's a list of some of our favorites.

Good Apples for Baking

  • Baldwin
  • Braeburn
  • Cameo
  • Cortland
  • Empire
  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Golden Delicious
  • Granny Smith
  • Honeycrisp
  • Honey Gold
  • Jonagold
  • Jonathan
  • Melrose
  • Mutsu (Crispin)
  • Northern Spy
  • Opalescent
  • Orin
  • Pink Lady (Cripps Pink)
  • Rome Beauty
  • Rhode Island Greening
  • Winesap

Tips for Baking with Apples

  • Variety. Using a blend of tart and sweet apples makes for a more complex-testing pie. A blend of apples will also contribute varying textures.
  • Chopping. When cutting up apples for quick breads and muffins, cut some of the pieces smaller so they "melt" more into the batter as they cook and break down.
What apples do you like to bake with?
[via the kitchn]

Thursday, September 25, 2014

It's Harvest Time! 10 Snacks We Fall For

Falling for autumn we are; the cozy, warm harvest comes as a welcome reprise from the fruity wiles of summer. Crisp red apples, hearty sundry squashes, hot spices and comforting soups, what a celebratory time of plenty filled with gratitude for the fruitfulness of life and deliciousness wafting in the wind.

Here are our chosen autumnal evening snack recipes, designed to give you the sustained energy you need to take care of yourself, your family and your work – with some left over for playing in the leaves.

1. Apple Cranberry Baked Brie

Slice a wheel of Brie cheese (with rind) in half. Top the bottom half of the circle (sliced edge up) with a mixture of 2 tablespoons maple syrup, one tablespoon unsalted melted butter, one small chopped apple, ⅓ cup sliced natural almonds and ⅓ cup dried cranberries, saving a bit of the mix to go on top as garnish. Put the top section of Brie back on and bake at 350°F for 7 minutes. Garnish with the remaining fruit and nut mixture and serve with table-water crackers.

2. Pumpkin Soup

This easy and delicious soup is a great appetizer at an autumn dinner or on its own for a filling afternoon snack. Puree 2 cups of cooked pumpkin (or you can used canned) along with 4 cups vegetable stock, ½ cup milk, one tablespoon butter, one tablespoon Bragg’s seasoning and ¼ cup dry milk. Heat until boiling, and enjoy!

3. Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Deluxe

Cook steel-cut oats according to package directions, then add any (or all!) of the following for a warm autumn snack that will keep you going for hours: butter, cream, brown sugar or maple syrup, chopped apples or applesauce, roasted nuts, raisins or dried fruit, plus a dash of cinnamon and salt.

4. Baked Squash Rings

Cut an acorn squash (any color) into ½” rings, discarding the seeds and membrane. Arrange slices in large baking dish, pour ½ cup of orange juice over the rings, cover with them loosely with foil and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. While the rings are baking, combine ¼ cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons each maple syrup and butter in a saucepan. Bring it to boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Brush this mixture over the squash slices and continue to bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until the squash is tender and lightly browned.

5. Harvest Salad

Top your favorite greens with half of a chopped Granny Smith apple and ¼ cup each of dried sweetened cranberries and roasted walnuts. Crumble 1-2 ounces of blue cheese on the salad, and then finish it off with creamy balsamic vinaigrette for a delicious salad that is bursting with different fall flavors.

6. Apple Dip

This easy dip is great for apples or any kind of fruit. Combine one 8-ounce carton of sour cream with two tablespoons brown sugar and a half-teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir in ½ cup of toasted pecans or walnuts, and enjoy with your favorite kind of apple!

7. Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin is packed with nutrients, and these yummy pancakes are super moist and perfect for a leisurely brunch. Prepare pancake batter as usual. Add half a can of pumpkin-pie mix to the batter for each four servings of pancakes you are making. Top with maple syrup plus a handful of roasted pecans. Great for breakfast, an afternoon treat or a dinnertime dessert!

8. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

After you carve a pumpkin, don’t throw out the seeds! Instead, rinse them and cook on a greased baking sheet for 25-35 minutes at 325°F, stirring about every five minutes. Flavor simply with salt and pepper or get creative with other spices like cayenne, cumin and chili powder.

9. Autumn Snack Mix

Roast 8 ounces of pecan halves in 350°F oven for 4 minutes; stir, then roast for another 4 minutes (you can brush the pecans with butter before you roast them for added flavor). Cool completely, then salt the nuts lightly and combine with 4 ounces of dried, sweetened cranberries and 4 ounces of dried, sweetened apples. If you have a sweet tooth, you can add Reese’s pieces, candy corn or autumn-colored M&Ms.

10. Baked Apples with Cranberry Sauce

Preheat oven to 350°. Core four Granny Smith apples to within ½” of the bottom. Mix together ¼ cup whole-berry cranberry sauce or relish, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and then stuff into the apples. Put apples in baking dish and cover with foil. Bake in middle of oven until very tender when pierced and still intact, 1 to 1 1/4 hours (start checking apples for doneness at 45 minutes). Serve alone or topped with vanilla ice cream and a handful of toasted walnuts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What the ‘Organic’ Label on Chicken is Hiding

If you think buying organic chickens keeps you safe from added antibiotics, think again. Organic chickens are not necessarily 100% antibiotic-free. There is a loophole, allowing unhatched eggs and freshly born chicks to be administered small doses of antibiotics, including the powerful antibiotic gentamicin. Even if the label reads “organic”, the law regulating antibiotic use in organic products doesn’t kick in until the second day of life. So, while unhatched and during the first 24 hours, organically-destined chicks are allowed to be raised conventionally, including antibiotics. But, do unhatched chicks really need to be dosed up with antibiotics?

The prolific use of antibiotics in livestock has raised significant concern over antibiotic resistance in humans. Two million people develop antibiotic resistant infections each year, over 1% of which prove to be fatal. The increase in this number is associated with our increased use of antibiotics in everything from livestock feed and water to unhatched eggs. By giving all of our livestock mass amounts of antibiotics, we may be encouraging antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Regardless, organic chickens should be antibiotic-free from the egg. You would think that there would be a stipulation in the law stating that all organic chickens must come from organic, no-antibiotic hatcheries. But, alas, there isn’t. Therefore, an organically raised chick may have come from a non-organic hatchery, meaning that chicken spent its crucial development stages in non-organic, antibiotic-laden conditions. In many such hatcheries, eggs are poked with a thin needle to inject sterilizing antibiotics to prevent common chicken diseases. This unnecessary, as many have found a decreased incidence of disease once moving away from antibiotics since the hole leaves an opening in the shell for unwanted antibiotic-resistant bacteria to potentially slip through. (Note: This practice isn’t used in eggs meant for eating.)

Antibiotic-free means that no antibiotics were ever administered, so make sure you look for that phrase on your organic eggs. Interestingly, Perdue recently announced its shift towards 100% antibiotic-free hatcheries. The company steadily made the shift away from administering antibiotics to its chickens, and the eggs are a final piece of the puzzle. They have succeeded in keeping 80% of their hatcheries antibiotic-free thus far — to great success — which is a tremendous step for the massive corporation and an example for other large companies.

The blanket use of antibiotics in mass scale livestock production has been deemed inappropriate and unnecessary by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Make sure you know what you’re buying — do your research and read the labels. If you don’t want antibiotics injected in chicks, sign this Care2 petition.

[via Care2]

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Protein 101

At this point, everyone has heard talk of high-protein diets. But what do you really know about protein? You know you can get it from meats and beans — but if that’s all you know about protein, then you have a lot to learn.

First thing's first: What the recommended daily serving is for men, women and children? According to, serving sizes are different depending on your sex and age. Teenage boys and active men need three daily servings (7 ounces total), while women, children ages 2 to 6 and the elderly need two servings (5 ounces total), says. Older children, teenage girls, active women and men who aren’t as active need 6 total ounces, or two servings.

But What, Exactly, is Protein?

Anne Mauney, MPH, RD, a blogger at Fannetastic Food, explains: “Protein is a macronutrient that is a vital structural plus working substance in all cells. Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids, which all have the same basic structure. There are nine essential amino acids — essential means that the body can't make them itself so we must get them through food.

“Protein is necessary in body growth, repair and replacement of damaged tissue,” Mauney continues. “It can also facilitate or regulate body reactions (as an enzyme); is a major structural component of all cells and the building blocks of muscle, skin, blood, bones, teeth, ligaments and tendons; and can act as hormones, transporters or antibodies as well.”

So why does everyone talk about eating protein in order to maintain weight or aid in weight loss? Mauney says it’s all about satiety. “Protein is the most satiating macronutrient,” she adds, “which means that eating protein helps send signals to your body that you are getting full.”

Straight to the Source

According to the CDC, there are many sources of protein: animal-based foods, such as red meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs and cheese; legumes; tofu; nuts; and seeds. But what are the best forms of protein to eat?

“Protein from animal sources is higher quality because it contains all of the essential amino acids," Mauney says. "Vegetarian protein is an incomplete protein, as it does not contain all the essential amino acids, but simply pairing foods together that have complementary proteins (e.g., rice and beans) is a great way for vegetarians to get all the essential amino acids.”

Bonus tip: “You don't have to have all the essential amino acids in one sitting, either — having those complementary proteins at different times of the day is also fine,” according to Mauney.

Everything in Moderation

While high-protein or so-called low-carb diets are very popular, when trying to lose weight, Mauney prescribes to the “everything in moderation” school of thought. “If you are lacking protein, it's certainly important to add some in, but limiting carbs more often than not just leads to disordered relationships with food and a lot of guilt around mealtime, which can lead to restrict/binge cycles,” she says. “Don't be scared of carbs!”

Additionally, Mauney recommends eating protein throughout the day. “Whether you want to lose weight or just maintain weight, I'd always recommend having some form of protein at each meal of the day, and at snack time, too. Adding some protein to breakfast in particular is a great way to feel more satisfied through the day/morning.”
[via HellaWella]

Friday, September 19, 2014

Meet Muesli, Oatmeal’s Cool Cousin

What the heck is muesli? The term “muesli” (pronounced “MEWS-lee,” as in rhymes with “loosely”) is derived from the Swiss-German word “mus” — meaning, appropriately enough, “mixture.” The mixture consists of rolled oats, nuts, seeds, fresh or dried fruit and other whole grains, like rye or barley. Admittedly, this makes muesli sound an awful lot like granola. Although both foods can be good sources of whole grains, fiber, fatty acids and protein, granola is often toasted in oil and sweetened with honey or a syrup, making it much higher in fat and sugar.

Muesli, alternatively, consists of raw ingredients either eaten like cereal, with milk, yogurt or even fruit juice added right before serving, or it can be soaked ahead of time. Soaking muesli creates a texture similar to chilled oatmeal, making it an attractive breakfast option during the dog days of summer. Of course, muesli also can be heated, if desired. Muesli Fusion, a cereal manufacturer, suggests cooking a half cup of muesli with a half cup of water or milk over medium heat until boiling, stirring frequently. Alternatively, microwave equal parts muesli and water or milk on high for two minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Cold, hot, raw, soaked — muesli is a choose-your-own-adventure type of cereal.

According to The Kitchn, soaking muesli also might provide greater nutritional benefits because a substance called phytic acid in unsoaked grains’ outer layer joins forces with such nutrients as calcium in your body to hinder absorption. You wouldn’t want all your healthy-eating hard work to go down the drain, would you? Personally, as muesli lacks the enjoyable crunch of traditional granola, I prefer the texture of soaked muesli — even adding the milk half an hour before breakfast makes the cereal much more palatable. The oats and grains drink up the milk, becoming tender and soft, while the dried fruit rehydrates and plumps up. Yum!

The invention of this nutritious breakfast is credited to the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner in the early 20th century, developed as a means to help alleviate and prevent disease in his patients. The original recipe allegedly consisted of oats, raw apples, condensed milk and lemon juice. Eventually muesli was mass-produced, which led to the addition of dried fruits, a very concentrated source of sugar. Some packaged varieties of muesli boast of their 50% fruit content, luring unsuspecting dieters into consuming more sugar over breakfast than they would in a chocolate bar.

Alternatively, making your own muesli and adding fresh berries or fruit is a good way to get plenty of dietary fiber without the sugar high. One cup, or 85 g, of muesli provides 6.2 g of dietary fiber, according to the USDA Nutrient Database. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends adults consume 25 g to 38 g of fiber each day. Although muesli is not a low-calorie food — a half-cup contains anywhere from 144 to 250 calories, depending on the brand and ingredients, and that does include the added calories from milk, yogurt or juice — the fiber and protein content of muesli creates a feeling of fullness to keep you going until lunchtime. The USDA reports that a half-cup of muesli contains 4 g of protein, providing 9% of women’s and 7% of men’s recommended dietary allowance. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, high-protein foods move more slowly from the stomach to the intestine, and the body uses more calories to digest protein than it does to digest fats or carbs. So, while muesli is not a light breakfast, per say, it can help end your mid-morning snack habit.

My favorite store-bought muesli is the German-made, all-natural Seitenbacher Muesli #2 (Berries Temptation), which contains no trans-fat, cholesterol, sugar or artificial colors and preservatives. Although fairly calorie-conscious, with 160 calories in a 2/3-cup serving, the inclusion of dried apples, dried raspberries and raisins does boost the sugar content to 11 g per serving — and I like to add fresh peach or banana slices to bulk it up a bit, meaning, well, more sugar. Those wanting to tame their sweet tooth and make their own nutrient-dense muesli in bulk can check out this gluten-free and vegan recipe from the food and nutrition blog Nutrition Stripped. This muesli version includes lots of good-tasting, good-for-you ingredients, like quinoa flakes, pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, goji berries and ground cinnamon.

Making muesli is pretty fool-proof, as you can throw in your favorite nuts and fruits into the mix and almost certainly create a tasting, satisfying breakfast. You’ll never go back to boring old oatmeal again.
[via HellaWella]

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wheat Free Alternative Grains and Other Plant Sources

Whole grains are a big part of a healthy diet. They make up a large part of the bottom of the food pyramid. But it’s not just whole wheat and brown rice. As you take on the wheat-free lifestyle, you soon discover the wide variety of grains to choose from.

In recent years there has been a frenzy of interest around quinoa. It’s just one of the grain alternatives you can choose from. All of these are healthy swaps in your favorite breads, pastas and side dishes.
Quinoa an alternative to wheat flour.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah)

This is a nutritious super-food that’s actually a nut from Peru. Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor. It cooks faster than rice, in about 15 minutes. It’s a versatile ingredient that’s good as a hot cereal or ground into flour. It adds moisture to baked goods. Try it in a dish like Autumn Root Vegetables with Quinoa.


This seed has a nutty flavor. They need to be ground to get the most nutritional fiber value, although they can be toasted whole first than Flax seed an alternative to wheat flourground for later use. Add them ground to add to salads, cereal and bread dough.

Liquid flaxseed oil is also available. Try this recipe Buttermilk Marinated Chicken Breast with Flax and Wheat Germ Breading.


This alternative to wheat is not a member of the wheat family and it isn’t technically a grain, but it’s often used in place of grains. It’s a good alternative for those with wheat allergies. Diets rich in buckwheat seem to promote lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Buckwheat is sold both roasted and raw and used whole, cracked or ground into flour. Use as a flour in pancakes with this recipe Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancakes.


The amaranth is a broad-leafed, bushy plant that grows about six feet tall. It has brightly colored flowers that can contain up to 60,000 seeds. The seeds are nutritious and are ground into flour. Not a true grain, amaranth is often called a pseudo-cereal. Amaranth belongs to the plant family that includes beets, chard, spinach, and some weeds. Try these recipes made with Amaranth flour, like Amaranth Pasta , Amaranth Pancakes, or Traditional Amaranth Atole Recipe.

Rice flour

Rice flour is used to enhance other grains. Available in both white and whole grain brown, rice flour is finer than wheat.


Millet is a drought-tolerant grass. The seeds can be used as a sorghum substitute. It can be used like rice, served creamy or fluffy.

Oat Flour

Oat flour is another great alternative to wheat. When using oats you should select gluten-free oats. These are specially-selected varieties that have eliminated the cross-contamination with wheat, barley and rye.

There is also Almond flour and Coconut flour that are becoming the top of the list alternatives to using wheat.

These are the most popular whole grains or other plant sources you can find to substitute for wheat. Each has its own unique flavor and can be used in many different ways to add variety to your cooking and baking.