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Healthy Applesauce Recipe

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All Grown Up...

Applesauce isn’t exactly what comes to mind when one is looking for a healthy recipe. Maybe a healthy kale recipe pops up first. Or perhaps a healthy vegan dinner recipe. But a healthy applesauce recipe? Hmm, let’s explore that.

Applesauce seems like a kid food. But it definitely doesn’t have to be.

Sure, each bite may be filled with memories of playing hopscotch in the street. But applesauce can be elevated. Applesauce can be sophisticated. Believe it or not, applesauce can be a grown-up food. (And we can still let it be a little nostalgic.)

Why would we want applesauce to be a grown-up food? Because it’s actually insanely healthy!

Now, I’m not talking about highly processed or sugar-laden products on the grocery store shelves here. I’m talking homemade, clean and/or organic, and sweetened only with the apples themselves. And some dried fruit, if you’re so inspired.

The way the apples are boiled for this healthy homemade applesauce, the pectin in their skin is released. Pectin is the skin’s fiber, and it’s getting a lot of attention these days for its gut-healing properties. Studies are beginning to show that pectin can even prevent allergies with its microbiome-boosting qualities. 

Good for kids and adults. 

So why not make the most of the childhood fave?

Healthy Applesauce Recipe Ingredients

The ingredients for this healthy applesauce recipe are pretty much, well, apples. You don’t *actually* need anything else, but you can add some dried fruit to sweeten it further, or spices to jazz it up. Raisins, prunes, and dates are all great choices, plus cinnamon and/or ginger.

If you’re wondering if the apples need to be red or green, the answer is: it doesn’t matter! 

I usually use Gala or Fuji apples, or a mix. If I have a couple extras of something else–like the Granny Smiths below–I throw them in, too. Your sauce might just look lighter or darker depending on what type of apples you use. It will also look lighter or darker depending on how many and which additional ingredients you toss in.

How To Clean Apples

Apples make the “dirty dozen” high pesticide list, so knowing how to clean apples is important. Buying organic simply means the pesticides are organic. The best way to clean apples is soaking them in a bowl of water with two tablespoons of baking soda for 30 seconds to 30 minutes. 

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Longer soaks = more pesticides removed. 

According to America’s Test Kitchen, since pesticides aren’t stable at an alkaline pH, soaking them in a baking soda solution breaks down their compounds:

“The solution will remove only certain classes of pesticides, and only from the produce’s surface. Spray pesticides that are designed to be absorbed cannot be rinsed away; neither can those that are applied to a plant’s roots. (In the University of Massachusetts study, one of the pesticides applied to the apples, thiabendazole, was designed to be absorbed by fruit flesh, and 20 percent of it remained in the peel after the baking soda soak.”

Same with the pesticide phosmet, of which about 4% remained on the skin after the soak. Much like thiabendazole, it’s designed to stick around.

Still, like America’s Test Kitchen, I always opt for this method as it’s definitely the best I’ve heard of.

Applesauce Health Benefits

By itself, applesauce is a tool many use for constipation and other tummy troubles. (All that fiber!) Dried fruit only ups the ante for those who need a little help getting regular, making it a wonderful natural remedy for adults and kiddos alike.

Add to the mix some cinnamon and ginger, and you’ve basically got a superfood! In sweet, flavorful applesauce, it’s easy to sneak in powerful spices like ginger, which help with all things digestion even more. Cinnamon is also an all-around excellent health food. 

Apples: Providing both soluble and insoluble fiber, an apple a day truly can improve your overall health. Apple consumption reduces your risk of many diseases, from high blood pressure and diabetes to strokes and heart disease. Their pectins are even more powerful when heated and released, like in a healthy applesauce recipe. Wink, wink.

Raisins: These sweet dried grapes are a healthy source of iron, calcium and fiber, making them excellent for your blood, bones and digestion. Too much of a good thing will hike up your blood sugar, but in moderate portions this dried fruit makes a delicious and healthy natural sweetener.

Cinnamon: Packed with antioxidants, cinnamon has been used medicinally for centuries–and for good reason! It decreases blood sugar, and since it’s usually consumed with something sweet, it’s a perfect match. Additionally, cinnamon lowers LDL and total cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and is naturally antimicrobial—fighting fungus and bacteria. 

Ginger: A rockstar at all things digestion, ginger helps with heartburn, nausea, constipation, and emptying the stomach in general. It is studied and used medicinally for its loads of health benefits from being very anti-inflammatory to reducing blood sugar, heart disease and cancer risk. Plus, if you’re pregnant and have morning sickness, there is really nothing better. Ginger has been used for ages to reduce morning sickness nausea and vomiting. 

How To Make This Healthy Applesauce Recipe

To make this healthy applesauce recipe, simply quarter and boil your apples in a few inches of water. After 10-15 minutes the skins will start looking shiny. Remove the apples and blend, or keep them in the pot and use an immersion blender to make them into sauce. Ta da!

Now, of course, there are some teeny details. 

As mentioned above, knowing how to clean apples is an important step. 

After their soak in baking soda, I rinse them then chop them into quarters. No need to be exact on the sizes, as long as they are roughly the same. Very, very roughly.

I don’t fill the pot with more than an inch or two of water, because instead of draining the water I use an immersion blender and I don’t like my applesauce too watery/runny. Theoretically, I could drain the water and still use the immersion blender, but after a boil the water has absorbed nutrients, so why waste it?

If you opt for a traditional blender that works perfectly, too. Maybe just give the apples some time to cool before tossing them in, according to whatever your blender’s instructions are. 

Back to the recipe. You can leave it as just apples, but why not jazz it up? Toss a 1/2 cup of raisins on top, plus about a teaspoon of cinnamon (if you want to be exact) and some ginger. It is a little too easy to over-spice with ginger and end up with very strong sauce, so you might want to measure here, anywhere from 1/8 of a teaspoon to 1/2 a teaspoon.

As you might guess from my tone, I don't usually do exact measurements. But if you're shaker-happy, then measuring can't hurt.

Bring the water to a boil, then steam everything together, covered and on low. Check in 10-15 minutes and the apple skins will look somehow shinier. It can be tricky to spot, so if you can't tell the difference, just know there will be a difference by that time.

Turn off the heat and use an immersion blender to turn the mixture into sauce. Or, as mentioned above, let it cool then blend in a blender.

Store your applesauce in the fridge for up to two weeks (maximum). Some say 7-10 days, but I tend to push it if I can. Don’t tell. 

If You Like Sweet and Savory...

This easy pickled red onion is for you! Think you might not like raw onions? Think again! You'll be eating these on just about anything. Except ice-cream. But that's what the healthy applesauce recipe is for.

View Pickled Red Onion Recipe

Have a Picky Eater?

I know this is going to sound weird, but plain rice and a side of applesauce? Absolutely divine to a four year old. Maybe you can sneak some tofu blocks or white meat chicken onto the plate, but if not, no worries. At least the kiddo is getting plenty of nutrition from the applesauce while filling up on rice. Four years? Try four stars.

View How To Reduce Arsenic in Rice

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Difficulty Beginner
Time
Prep Time: 4 mins Cook Time: 16 mins Total Time: 20 mins
Servings 8
Description

This healthy applesauce recipe elevates the childhood favorite into a superfood! Packed with spices and dried fruit, it's a delicious snack or sauce.

Ingredients
  • 6 medium size Gala or Fugi apples (if the apples are small, use a couple extra)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger (ground or fresh and sliced)
Instructions
  1. Wash the apples then cut them into quarters.

  2. Add apples, raisins, cinnamon and ginger to a medium-sized pot and fill with about 1-2 inches of water. 

  3. Cover pot and bring water to a boil. Then turn down heat, keep covered and simmer for 10-15 minutes, when apple skins look shiny. (No harm in peeking, you just don't want the small amount of water to evaporate.)

  4. Remove pot from heat. Use immersion blender to make into sauce, or let the mix cool before adding to a traditional blender and blending.

  5. Store in a glass container in the fridge for 10-14 days. 

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