What do you do when you’ve got lots of apples in the house or, as was with my case, have apples that are on the verge of turning?
Bake ’em of course!
I had four large Mutsu (also known as Crispin) apples that I had picked up at the local butcher store that was on the verge of self-fermenting. Not quite “off” but almost; they tasted a little sour. Always hating to throw out or waste food, I thought I’d try salvaging them with a classic baked apple recipe.
Apples are a low cost, nutritious fruit that is grown around the world including Southern Ontario where I live.
Apples are full of fiber, a smattering of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C, B6, K1, and potassium. They’re also loaded with health-promoting phytonutrients & polyphenols:
- Phenolic acids
These compounds naturally found in plant foods are responsible for lower rates of many chronic diseases such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease ane more. Apples are also a good source of prebiotics.
Are Brazil nuts good for you? Oh ya.
A classic baked apple recipe typically uses raisins, chopped walnuts or almonds, and butter, none of which I had so I improvised. By using Brazil nuts, or mixing Brazil nuts with another nut like walnuts, you’ll get a healthy dose of the mineral selenium.
Selenium is often lacking in North American diets. Selenium is used by your body to make the antioxidant glutathione (GSH). GSH is referred to as both the “master antioxidant” because it acts as an antioxidant itself and because it boosts other antioxidants, and as the “master detoxifier”.
Many hate that expression because of how it’s been exaggerated but the reality is, GSH is involved in your liver’s normal detoxification processes. If fact, as your liver excretes a toxin, it uses GSH which if not replaced, impedes your liver’s ability to do its job. You can support GSH production by getting dietary sources of selenium, as well as, taking a glutathione supplement if you choose.
Higher intakes of selenium and higher concentrations of cellular and tissue GSH concentrations are associated with lower rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Selenium is also needed along with iodine to ensure healthy thyroid function. (Always thinking like a functional and integrative nutritionist!)
Using dried figs in this baked apple recipe was a great substitution. They add a nice chewy texture provide a decent amount of blood pressure-lowering potassium to your daily total.
Like apples, figs are a great source of phytonutrients. They are rich in phenolic compounds. On study demonstrated that as little as 1 dried or fresh fig had enough phenolic bang to help prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidation. Oxidation damages LDL and other lipoproteins which make them more atherogenic (promoting inflammation of the blood vessels which starts atherosclerosis). Not bad for a mere 47 calorie fruit!
Baked Apples with Brazil Nuts & Figs
- 4 large apples
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup finely diced figs
- 1/4 cup chopped Brazil nuts
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- coconut oil
- 3/4 cup of boiling water
Preheat oven to 375 F or 190 C
Using a paring knife (or apple corer), gently core out the apple making sure you don't go through the bottom of the apple; you'll need the cavity to hold the filling
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, diced figs, Brazil nuts and cinnamon.
Place the apples in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish. Divide the fruit, nut and spice mixture among the apples, spooning it into the hollows and filling them to the top.
Top with a dollop of virgin coconut oil
Pour the boiling water into the baking dish
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes* or until the apples are soft. Test with a knife
Cool to room temperature. Serve as is, or top with some plain yogurt. Voila! Baked apples
* I used a convection oven and it only took 30 mins.