It is breathtaking this autumn in the orchard. The apple trees are like jewels, amazing and abundant with fruit; I feel so privileged to be the current custodian of such beautiful trees lovingly planted so many years ago. There is every shape, size and colour of apple here and my daily walk around the orchard is a magnificent feast for the eyes and tastebuds. Yes, my dogs and I are happily munching our way through all sorts of varieties – I’ve found ones that have a gorgeous shocking pink flesh and a tart juicy taste, then enormous cooking apples which I have baked and stewed and popped into the freezer full for later in the year.
The apple is the most accessible and versatile fruit on the planet and there are 1000s of varieties to suit all tastes, from sharply tart to super sweet. Not only does this simple but extraordinary fruit give us breathtaking blossom and rich autumn colour, it is also a pretty huge powerhouse.
“An apple a day . . . ” really could keep the doctor away (this depends of course on the other habits in your life so don’t hold me to this!). As we know, apples are a great source of fibre, key to helping us rid our bodies of the ‘rubbish’. The apple is also a great prebiotic food which means it encourages the healthy bacteria in our gut and helps support our digestive health in such a positive way – this is, in my opinion, essential to the foundation of good health. Apples are also packed full of powerful nutrients that support our immune system and help our bodies to thrive, so the famous saying is not just an old wives’ tale.
Apples are often the first solid food we eat – as babies, pureed apple is a firm favourite for it’s texture, taste and ease. And it is not short of fame and notoriety: think of the forbidden fruit consumed by Eve, the BIG Apple, it helped Steve Jobs launch what’s now the biggest company in the world, and was Snow White’s fairytale brush with death – let’s face it, the apple has earned its impressive status. And I think we take it for granted! As you know, I forever champion the importance of seasonal produce – and it doesn’t get much better than apples in autumn. We are blessed here in the UK to have access to so many varieties, so I encourage you to enjoy as many as you can. Think beyond the supermarket shelves and venture to a farmers’ market or fruit and veg shop for something beyond the Granny Smith.
They can be juiced, grated into salads, baked, poached, pureed and they partner perfectly with so many foods – from vegetables like beetroot and cabbage, nuts such as walnuts and hazelnuts, berries, shellfish like crab, and as an accompaniment to meats. They are also the perfect host for spices such as cinnamon and aniseed . . . the list goes on. But best of all – especially at this time of year – a simple, fresh, super crisp apple picked straight from the tree is one of life’s simple pleasures.
- 8 apples
- 80g walnuts, soaked overnight.
- 50g raisins
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- a good grating of nutmeg
- 1 tbsp honey
For the almond cream
- 80 almonds, soaked overnight
- 150 ml coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp honey
Preheat the oven to 180/160 fan. Combine the nuts with the spices. Remove the apple cores and using a small knife cut a wider opening on the top. Stand the apples up in a baking dish that holds them snuggly and push the nut mix into the holes, finishing with a drizzle of honey. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until apples are cooked.
Drain the almonds and blend with about 50 ml of the coconut milk, just enough to get them moving, this will depend on your blender. You may need to scrape down the edges a few times. Blitz them to a breadcrumb texture then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
Serve the apples with a drizzle of almond cream.
Apple with Salad:
Remember, apples are so versatile – I love to grate or chop them raw into my salads. They pretty much work with anything and add a lovely extra crunch as well as simple sweetness.
Apple with Vegetable Juice:
An apple is the perfect companion to green vegetables when juicing. One apple can take the edge away from the bitter taste of leafy greens adding just the right amount of sweetness. My standard juice or smoothie is: 1 apple with 3 different greens such as cucumber, spinach, celery or kale. Such an easy way to get your apple a day! If you haven’t already seen it, head over to my YouTube Video “How to make a green smoothie’.