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October, 2010

Easy Crockpot Applesauce

By Cheryl Forberg

Apples are stocked year-round in produce sections these days, thanks to modern transportation and farming techniques.

But traditionally, apples had a peak season just like other produce – and that season was fall. Near where I live, local Gravenstein apples are starting to ripen, and they’re showing up at the farmer’s market and in supermarkets. The Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol, which just celebrated its 100th year, featured such autumn fixtures as an apple-pie eating contest and plenty of fresh cider.

Regardless of the variety, apples are a nutrition winner. There’s a reason the saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”! A large apple delivers 20% of the recommended daily amount of fiber – and it contains both soluble fiber, which may help lower cholesterol, as well as insoluble fiber. In addition, apples pack an antioxidant punch; they’re high in Vitamin C, phytochemicals and flavonoids, all of which can help boost immunity. Apples are low in calories and score low on the glycemic index – meaning they’re lower in starchy sugars than other fruits, and therefore won’t cause a spike in blood sugar (and subsequent crash). Plus, they’re portable!

In addition to snacking on whole apples, I enjoy them sliced fresh in salads, and poached or baked for dessert – and even use them to add a sweet note to soups and savory main dishes.

Now is the perfect time to explore beyond the basic Golden and Red Delicious and experiment with new varieties in new recipes. Consider:
Fuji – A crisp, sweet red apple for snacking
Gala – Mild and slightly tart red apple for snacking
McIntosh – Sweet, fragrant red apple for snacking
Granny Smith – A crisp, tart green apple, for both snacking and cooking
Rome – A round, red apple with a mild flavor, ideal for baking

For more varieties, plus apple facts and recipes, visit allaboutapples.com.

One of my favorite fall treats is fresh applesauce – but it can be a hassle to cook, and store-bought varieties are usually loaded with added sugar.

The recipe below, which employs a crock pot, is a real time-saver; you don’t need to monitor the sauce as it simmers on the stovetop, or stir it to prevent sticking. Plus, this recipe has no added sugar.

Chunky Crock Pot Applesauce
Chunky Crock Pot Applesauce

This makes a great topping for hot cereal or the perfect addition to stir into yogurt.

Yield: About three cups (six 1/2-cup servings)

Ingredients
8 unpeeled medium-size apples (about 3 1/2 pounds of Gala, Delicious or Fuji), cored and cut into one-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions
Place all ingredients in crockpot. Toss to coat apples. Cover and cook on low setting for 4 hours. Cool slightly. Serve warm or cold. Note: Granny Smith or other tart apples may be used, though sweetener may be needed.

Nutrition Facts:
Serving Size One
½ cup serving
Calories 145
Calories from Fat 0
Total Fat 0g
Sat Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 0mg
Dietary Fiber 7g
Sugar 28g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A 25%
Vitamin C 20%
Calcium 2%
Iron 2%