Is there anything better than warm, homemade applesauce fresh off the stove with walnuts sprinkled on top?
Not at this moment, no.
I have a drawer at work filled with healthy non-perishables - applesauce, green tea bags, Mary's Organic Crackers, Lärabars, and Dolfin chocolate (OK, not so healthy, but to give you an idea of how "fast" I go through this stuff, I got three bars a year ago for my birthday, only one of them is open and all three of them are way past their "best before" date... and this is my favourite chocolate we're talking about here!)
My go-to snack lately has been a container of applesauce with some cottage cheese (we also have a giant fridge at work for perishables, but I don't think I've used it to its full potential yet) and a small handful of nuts - it satisfies my palate by combining sweet, tart applesauce with savoury cottage cheese. Plus, the walnuts add crunch so I don't feel like I'm eating baby food. It also makes for a great snack nutritionally as it combines a source of carbs and a source of protein with the added bonus of some healthy fats.
I must admit that I buy the President's Choice unsweetened applesauce just because it's the cheapest on the shelf, but the ingredients sketch me out a little -
"Just Apples"? In quotation marks? What does that even mean? Why can't it just say "apples" (without quotation marks)?
While it does take a little more time, making your own applesauce can help you ensure that your applesauce is just apples (or not) and it's so easy you'll wonder why you didn't know how to do this before. In fact, I learned how to do this in my first year in university when we used to go to the orchard on campus at night and steal apples, then sit around the pot of fresh applesauce in the wee hours of the night and finish the sweet treat in one go. Ahh... Mac...
Start with some apples - I usually go with McIntosh, but they didn't have any in bags at the Farmers' Market so I just took the easy route and bought a bag of Spartans. You can use any one or combination of your favourite cooking apples to get the flavour and texture you want.
Peel, core and cut them into pieces then throw them in a pot lined with just a teeny, tiny bit of water.
Heat the pot until you can hear the water bubbling underneath the apples, then turn the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for at least 45 minutes.
Mash the cooked apples with a potato masher, and here's the fun part! Sure, some people like their applesauce plain and unsweetened, but I like throwing in all the spices in the cupboard! This time I found some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla - it was the first time I'd used vanilla and I find that it really softens everything and makes the sauce taste a little like pie.
My sister (who helped me with peeling and chopping - Thanks Winkie!) and I resisted the urge to eat the whole thing straight from the pot, but the little bit we had was like a dream. And at work today I found out that it's also good cold with cottage cheese and walnuts ;)
Basic Applesauce Template
- Apples, peeled, cored, cut into pieces
- Water or Apple Juice
- In a pot large enough to hold all your apples, pour in about an inch of water (or apple juice if you're worried about "watering down" the flavour) and add apples.
- Heat on high heat until liquid begins to bubble, then turn heat down to low and simmer, covered, for at least 45 minutes.
- Mash cooked apples using a potato masher. Serve hot or cold.
- Add your favourite spices/seasonings to taste just before serving. Some ideas (in alphabetical order): brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, honey, maple syrup, nutmeg, vanilla.
- Get inspired by the flavours at the store and mix in other fruit with your apples, like pears, banana and frozen berries.
- Don't eat your applesauce alone! Top with nuts and/or dried fruit or do what I do and have it with cottage cheese (hehe)